EXCLUSIVE: Coming off of some of the best reviews of his career for his work in Broadway’s revival of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Suzan Lori Parks play Topdog/Underdog, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is preparing to move over from DC to Marvel as the lead for the studio’s Disney+ series Wonder Man.
Created by writer Stan Lee and artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby, Wonder Man was introduced to Marvel Comics in 1964 via The Avengers #9. The character otherwise known as Simon Williams is the son of the industrialist Sanford Williams and assumes control of his munitions outfit following his passing, seeing its successes limited when it comes into competition with Tony Stark’s Stark Industries. The younger Williams gains ion-based superpowers, including super strength, while working under the villainous Baron Zemo and establishing himself as an antagonist to The Avengers, though he later decides to become part of that superhero team.
The live-action Wonder Man series was first announced as entering development in June, with Shang-Chi helmer Destin Daniel Cretton and Hawkeye co-producer Andrew Guest both announcing their involvement. Cretton will direct and exec produce, with Guest serving as head writer. As previously announced, the show will see the return of Oscar winner Ben Kingsley’s Trevor Slattery — the supervillain- turned-good guy otherwise known as The Mandarin who appeared in Iron Man 3 and Shang-Chi.
Abdul-Mateen is best known in the superhero sphere for his work on HBO’s Watchmen, having won his first Emmy in 2020 for his turn as Cal Abar/Dr. Manhattan in the show based on the DC Comic from Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore. The actor first tied himself to DC with 2018’s Aquaman and will reprise his role as David Kane aka Black Manta in the sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which is slated for release on December 25, 2023.
Abdul-Mateen also has appeared in films including Ambulance, The Matrix Ressurections, Nia DaCosta’s Candyman sequel, Aaron Sorkin’s Oscar-nominated drama The Trial of the Chicago 7, Jordan Peele’s second feature Us and Michel Gracey’s The Greatest Showman. Additional TV credits include Black Mirror and The Get Down. Other upcoming projects for the thesp, who set up both the production company House Eleven10 and a creative partnership with Netflix in 2021, include FX’s limited series Scent of Burnt Flowers based on Blitz Bazawule’s novel, which House Eleven10 will produce; the Dwayne Johnson action thriller Emergency Contact, which he’ll star in and exec produce; and the Amazon Studios film I Helped Destroy People, based on Janet Reitman’s 2021 New York Times, which he’ll produce alongside Michael B. Jordan.
Abdul-Mateen is represented by WME, M88 and Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole.