In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there has been a considerable lack of Simon Williams, also known as Wonder Man. The actor turned superhero was a staple member of the Avengers ever since his introduction back in 1964’s Avengers #9 and having played important roles in the creation of Ultron and the Civil War, his absence in both films did open up the question what has become of the character. Yet, a behind-the-scenes picture of a movie theatre in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 may have revealed that we may see the character appear in the MCU after all.
The pictures reveal what seems to be a Simon Williams film festival with various posters spoofing real life films. Most notably, it seems that Williams was chosen as the lead actor to portray Tony Stark in the MCU’s incarnation of Steve Jobs. This does hint at the character’s appearance being merely an Easter Egg for eager fans, but there could be more to this story.
If you look closely, you’ll see that Wonder Man is portrayed by none other than Nathan Fillion. James Gunn is keeping his tradition alive of Fillion and Rob Zombie, which was also confirmed by Gunn himself, having cameos in his films one way or another. His casting could open up the possibility to answering a different question that has been haunting followers of the MCU. Fillion is quite famous for his TV work on Firefly and recently ABC’s Castle. So far, there is one major TV production that is still very much up in the air, John Ridley‘s project for ABC.
Ridley promises a unique take on the superhero genre, and that he was still working on rewrites of the script back in January. His reasoning was to create a unique approach on superhero stories. In his interview with IGN he stated the following:
“It’s not like it’s about being better than somebody else or doing something opposite of them just for the sake of being opposite, but even if this were the only project that were existing, is it representative? Is it unique in and of itself in where it lands in television, and is it something that I can stay with over the long haul? That’s what’s what I want to make sure that we can do.”
He states that he views Jessica Jones as a great reference of offering some strong social commentary. This lead to many believing that we could see Ms. Marvel finally getting her time to shine, but he quickly shot down any rumours that were popular, including Ms Marvel. This made it even more difficult to figure out what exactly his secret project could potentially be about. This lack of evidence on popular characters that seemed like shoe-ins lead to a different theory. What if Wonder Man is getting his much-deserved attention on TV?
Ridley has been working on this project since 2014, which is quite some time for this project. Ridley has been kept quite busy with his current show American Crime and wants to truly put in as much work as possible for this story. This time frame also offers the possibility of early production plans having already been in place that could have influenced Fillion’s cameo for Guardians. ABC would also want one of their biggest stars to once again sign a contract with their studios. Castle ran for eight seasons, and it is quite an enticing deal for ABC to expand its Marvel shows beyond The Inhumans, if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. truly ends up being cancelled.
What would make a Wonder Man show enticing for viewers? The concept alone offers a rather strong personal narrative. It could explore Hollywood from a perspective with existing powered individuals. Would Blockbuster cinema even survive in such an environment and how would that affect actors in this world? It could explore how Williams life changes as his acting career loses its edge after people starting focusing more on Iron Man and Captain America. In the comics, he had made deals with some shady organizations that gave him his powers, but it came at a cost. The show could explore a man’s attempt at staying relevant in a competitive field like Hollywood and the world
Moreover, the meta-narrative could also explore cinema in general, the same way JCVD and Jean Claude Van Johnson tackled the life of Jean Claude Van Damme in a very self-referential and self-aware way. People blaming superheroes for destroying cinema would offer an interesting introspective with a character like Williams. It could maybe be a way for TV to vent some frustration, or at least give insight into their own relationship with Marvel Studios. It could also explore the implications of how the international media would adapt to a world with heroes in it. There are many layers that could be explored over multiple seasons.
Maybe each season focuses on Williams being part of a specific film that pushes him and the narrative forward. How interesting would it be to explore how the existence of SHIELD may influence the production of a spy film? Maybe a historical drama will be made of Captain America, but given a darker edge since the events from Captain America: Civil War. There is a lot of potential in this concept, and maybe it is what Ridley, a man who has a lot of experience in Hollywood, may have been working on these last two to three years.