Although he is best known for playing two DC Comics characters – Dr. Manhattan in the HBO series ‘Watchmen’ (to Emmy-winning effect) and Black Manta in ‘Aquaman’, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II heads across the comic book frontier for Marvel, signing to star in ‘Wonder Man’, a new series in development at Disney+.
The series has ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ director Destin Daniel Cretton as executive producer (and to direct at least some, if not all of the episodes) and ‘Hawkeye’ veteran Andrew Guest serving as head writer.
In August, we learned that Ben Kingsley would also appear in the series as Trevor Slattery. The character, the clumsy actor was originally hired to play the Chinese villain version for ‘Iron Man 3’, next appeared in Marvel One-Shot and then returned for Cretton’s ‘Shang-Chi’.
A Wonder Man primer for those who may not know the slightly obscure character: it was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and first arrived on the pages of Marvel in ‘Avengers #9’, which was published in 1964. The character’s real name is Simon Williams, son of a wealthy industrialist whose company runs into trouble after competing with Tony Stark.
Enraged by how Stark has affected his family, Williams accepts an offer from Baron Zemo that grants him superhuman strength and endurance. He fought the Avengers several times, before joining them.
The comics also include stunts and actors, so the addition of Slattery to the show leads to something that could fool Hollywood.
James Gunn asked Nathan Fillion to make a cameo as a character in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2′ (in a series of film festival posters featuring Williams’ work) but that scene doesn’t end up being the end of the film.
Deadline’s story about casting Abdul-Mateen doesn’t provide details on how the MCU version of the character will adapt the comic book backstory, but we imagine there will be some changes along the way. Most notably, with Tony Stark dead, there will be quite a bit of crossover on that front.
Although Riri Williams’ successor to Stark technology, AKA Ironheart, will be introduced at this point in ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ and the Disney+ series itself, so there will probably be some overlap).
Abdul-Mateen is a busy and in-demand actor who last appeared in Michael Bay’s ‘Ambulance’. He will return as Black Manta for James Wan’s superhero sequel ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’, which is currently slated to hit theaters December 25 next year.
There are also several other projects in the works, including the TV drama ‘The Scent of Burnt Flowers’ and the potential film ‘I Helped Destroy People’, which he will also produce.