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Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is making his Marvel.
The actor, who is already known to comic book fans as DC’s Black Manta in the Jason Momoa Aquaman movies and for his memorable role in HBO’s Watchmen, is in talks to star in Wonder Man, Marvel’s latest Disney+ series.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton and Andrew Guest, a writer-producer on comedies such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Community, are spearheading the series. Guest will be head writer, while Cretton will exec produce and possibly direct an episode or more.
Wonder Man is one of Marvel’s oldest characters, first introduced in 1964 in the pages of Avengers No. 9. He was initially a villain and only appeared sporadically in the early Marvel Age, but was reconceived as a hero (and Avenger) in the late 1970s.
In the 1980s, the character really came into his own. Known as Simon Williams, he was a founding member of the Los Angeles-based West Coast Avengers and, with a look that included a turtleneck, a red jacket and sunglasses, became a celebrity thanks to his day job as an actor and stuntman.
The character also developed strong ties to classic (and now, thanks to Marvel movies and an Emmy-winning series) globally known characters Vision and Wanda/Scarlet Witch. Stories tied him to the android via ionic energy and brainwaves that implied the two were akin to brothers. Wonder Man even developed feelings for Wanda, after Vision had been dismantled.
The hero has been white in the comics, and the casting of Abdul-Mateen is the latest example of colorblind casting, something Marvel has consistently practiced, from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan).
Takes on the character for the Disney+ series were not revealed, but there certainly are clues. Even as Marvel searched for its hero for several months, it tapped Ben Kingsley to reprise his scene-stealing role as struggling actor Trevor Slattery, suggesting that the series could offer a look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Hollywood.
(And seeing as Hollywood is in Los Angeles, could L.A. attorney Jennifer Walters, aka She-Hulk, pop up? Marvel isn’t one to pass on such an opportunity.)
Abdul-Mateen last appeared opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in the Michael Bay action movie Ambulance and in The Matrix Resurrections and Candyman before that. He is due back as Black Manta in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Warner Bros.’ DC movie that won’t open until Dec. 25, 2023.
Abdul-Mateen is repped by WME and M88.
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