Casting is underway for Marvel Studios’ Wonder Man, and it’s already insanely interesting. News broke recently that Aquaman breakout Yahya Abdul-Mateen II would star as the title character Simon Williams, a stuntman and actor with incredible ionic powers, and now it would seem Breaking Bad favorite Bob Odenkirk is in talks to play his manager. If this comes to fruition, Wonder Man would be coming out of the gate with two top-tier talents on board. Yet, it is a little odd to think that Kevin Feige and the folks at Marvel would sign such massively gifted performers for minor characters. Abdul-Mateen II would, of course, be around for the long haul, likely joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe for more than a few projects. Odenkirk appearing in the role of “Wonder Man’s agent,” however, almost feels like a downgrade following an award-worthy stretch on Better Call Saul. That is unless there’s more to the character than initially meets the eye.
While not specifically named in the article revealing Odenkirk‘s potential casting, Wonder Man did have an agent in the comics that could also fill that role in the Disney+ series. Neal Saroyan, created by Gerard Jones and Jeff Johnson for Wonder Man’s second solo run in 1991, appeared as Simon Williams’ slimy talent manager for on-and-off stints over multiple years. At first, Saroyan was used mostly as a Hollywood caricature, designed to satirize the kind of awful behavior industry veterans have long been known for. For example, not long after becoming Simon’s agent, the established sleazeball purposefully orchestrates conflicts that endanger the lives of civilians so his client can look like more of a hero when he arrives to save the day. This style of promotion originates without Simon’s knowledge, but even after he learns the truth, Saroyan sticks around as a “this-is-how-the-business-works” foil for Wonder Man’s back-and-forth ethics.
Neal spends nearly a decade in comic book obscurity, occasionally popping into Wonder Man stories as a means of driving the plot forward with his specific brand of chaos. Whether it be hiring Simon a fake sidekick to boost his image, booking appointments with supervillains, or trying to force Simon’s love interest to write a film based on tragic Avengers-based events – Saroyan was usually the man pulling the strings. It wasn’t until 2007 that he became something a lot more sinister than just a shady businessman. In a miniseries titled My Fair Super Hero, Simon’s third solo run, Neal steps up and quietly takes the part of main antagonist.
Writer Peter David and artist Andrew Currie concoct a story in which Saroyan convinces Williams to star in a documentary reality show called – believe it or not – “My Fair Super Hero“. The premise stems from an earlier comic when Simon created a foundation known as “Second Chances”, where, being a former villain himself, he aids in the rehabilitation of criminals who want to be better. In My Fair Super Hero, Neal persuades Simon to publicly work with a superpowered assassin known as Ladykiller. Williams’ goal would be to reshape her image into a hero, under the new name “Ladyfair,” with the process being filmed as a way of bringing attention to both Wonder Man and Second Chances. A reluctant Simon agrees, and the remainder of the story revolves around Williams’ televised, eventually-romantic, relationship with Ladyfair as the duo fight off her dangerous former employers, “The Nobility”. The plot culminates in the surprise twist that Neal is not just a talent agent, but the secret leader of The Nobility and a hidden supervillain with brainwashing abilities. Saroyan waits until Simon brings Ladyfair into the presence of the Avengers, and then busts out his powers on the assassin in an effort to kill as many of the heroes as possible. Obviously, this doesn’t work, and only results in Neal’s untimely demise.
My Fair Super Hero was not an overly memorable comic arc when it was released, but the notable casting of Bob Odenkirk as – possibly – Saroyan could mean it’s destined for an MCU makeover in the near future. Odenkirk excels at portraying fast-talking men with a secret, so it makes sense that Marvel might want him in a similar kind of role in Wonder Man. The fact that the studio would shoot for an actor of Odenkirk‘s caliber also indicates that “Wonder Man’s agent” will likely be a bigger factor in the series than originally imagined, and if that character is actually a live-action version of Saroyan, what better story to adapt than the one where he takes center stage? Depending on how Marvel chooses to implement Simon Williams’ origin in the MCU, My Fair Super Hero could actually be their best route in bringing a Disney+ series to life. It would only take some slight adjustments to fit perfectly in the context of the world they’ve established.
Murphy’s Multiverse has already speculated that Abdul-Mateen II‘s hero could first debut as a villain in 2024’s Thunderbolts film. If this occurs, it will give Williams a genuine reason within the MCU to have founded an organization like Second Chances before aligning himself with a rather convincing representative of Hollywood. Furthermore, early reports on Wonder Man stated it was possible the series adapts the popular “mockumentary” style of television, another concept Murphy’s Multiverse got a jump on before its time. This idea was made more realistic by the hiring of Andrew Guest, a well-regarded mockumentary-style writer, to work on the show’s scripts. A My Fair Super Hero adaptation, which, as previously stated, sees Williams starring in a documentary reality series, would work naturally with this type of television.
As for Williams’ partner and love interest in the arc, Ladykiller, Marvel Studios could choose to keep the character for the show. Alternatively, they could go for something a little bit bigger. My Fair Super Hero, the comic, begins with a discussion between Simon and Neal about the odds of Scarlet Witch’s redemption. At the time, her public image had just taken a turn for the worst, as it has recently done in the MCU. The conversation happens because Simon, who shares brain patterns with the Vision, is the other major romantic partner for Wanda Maximoff in the Marvel universe. So, putting all the pieces together, one comes up with quite the pitch for Wonder Man on Disney+ – Abdul-Mateen II’s Simon Williams founds Second Chances and hires Odenkirk’s Neal Saroyan as his agent to build upon a burgeoning career in Hollywood. Saroyan convinces Williams to create a documentary series in which he attempts to turn around the biggest public fall from grace in history and reestablish the Scarlet Witch as an Avengers-worthy superhero. Simon and Wanda begin to fall for each other as their mockumentary leads them on comical adventures around the MCU, culminating in a moment where Saroyan reveals himself as the villain and tries to force Wanda into once again losing it.
Odenkirk gets his moment in the Marvel spotlight as a big bad, flexing his best entertainment muscles as a smooth-talker with the power of mental manipulation, and is more satisfyingly used in his one-off appearance. Simon develops his place in the MCU and solidifies his code of morals, while Wanda returns to superhero status. All wrapped in a fun, She-Hulk-style series on Disney+. It’s a win all around, and it only takes an obscure storyline from 2007 to get it done.