Wonder Man is a Marvel Comics superhero created by Stan Lee, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby. Making his debut in Avengers #9 (October, 1964), Simon Williams is one of the Avengers' strongest, most outspoken members. He won the Superpower Lottery with his "ionic energy", which gives him speed, strength, immortality, flight, and plenty of other powers besides. (They tend to change with time.)
Originally the head of Williams Innovations, a munitions company competing with Stark Industries, Simon Williams was bright but inexperienced. Simon inherited the business after the death of his father, Sanford Williams. After his company's profits started to fall, Simon acted on bad advice from his brother, Eric, and was arrested for embezzlement. Eric's ties to the Maggia, an international crime syndicate, also placed Simon and his company in a bad light.
Blaming Tony Stark for his company's troubles, Simon is about to be sent to prison when his bail is paid by Amora, the Enchantress. Temporarily free, Simon is faced with a proposition from Baron Zemo, the leader of the Masters of Evil: superhuman powers in exchange for destroying the The Avengers from within. Agreeing, Simon accompanies the Masters to South America, where he is granted superhuman strength and durability via Zemo's "ionic ray" treatment. Calling his creation "Wonder Man", Zemo has Simon test his strength against Amora's companion, Skurge the Executioner. Besting Skurge, Wonder Man is informed that the treatment that gave him superpowers also altered his metabolism. Without periodic doses of a special serum, Simon would die within a week. This was intended to ensure Simon's loyalty to Zemo, the only man who could provide the serum.
Arranging a staged battle between himself and the Masters of Evil, Wonder Man is successful in winning the Avengers over. After explaining his reliance on Zemo's serum, the Avengers attempt to cure him but are unsuccessful. Left with no choice but to remain loyal to Zemo, Wonder Man leads the Avengers into an ambush by the Masters of Evil. During the battle, Simon has a change of heart and helps the Avengers defeat the Masters instead, knowing full well that he was sacrificing his lifeline in the process. Proud of his choice, Simon succumbs to the treatment's deadly side effect and falls into a coma. Unable to find any life signs, the Avengers come to the conclusion that Simon passed away. Placing his body in suspended animation for the trip back to the United States, Iron Man creates a copy of Simon's brain patterns in the hope that one day they'll be able to revive him. The brain patterns were later used by the super-villain Ultron to create a personality matrix for The Vision, a synthezoid who would turn against his master and join the Avengers. Given Simon's history of having done exactly the same thing, this wasn't one of Ultron's smartest plans.
Meanwhile, his brother Eric, blaming the Avengers for his death, became the super-villain called The Grim Reaper and allied himself with other villains to gain revenge. He even had a voodoo priest reanimate Simon's body to attack them. It turned out however, that he wasn't dead, merely in a coma while he changed into an "ionic" form. In this form he was even more powerful and didn't need the serum to survive, though his eyes now glowed red.
The revived Simon joined the Avengers as Wonder Man, and was a member for years, becoming best friends with The Beast (from The X-Men, at the time an Avenger) and later had a romantic relationship with Wanda the Scarlet Witch (who ironically had once been married to The Vision.) Simon was one of the founding members of the West Coast Avengers, and began a side career in Hollywood as an actor and stuntman. After the dismantling of the West Coast branch, he joined Iron Man's new team, Force Works, but was disintegrated on the team's first mission. Many months later, he would remanifest in a purely energy state, thanks to the Scarlet Witch subconsciously using her powers to call on him in times of need; she would later find a way to fully restore Simon to a physical body.
Simon was unwillingly drafted into the pro-registration side of the Civil War. In the wake of the Secret Invasion, he became increasingly disillusioned with the perpetual cycle of superhero-supervillain violence. After repeatedly asking the Avengers not to re-assemble, he put together a team of similar malcontents (including a new Goliath, angry over his uncle's death during Civil War) who attack Avengers Mansion and Stark Tower, demanding that the Avengers be disbanded. The Avengers lock him up without a trial, effectively proving Wonder Man's point: the Avengers are powerful without accountability.
A Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Deleted Scene with posters for a Simon Williams movie festival teases the thought of adding Wonder Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and casting Nathan Fillion (a member of director James Gunn's Production Posse) as him.
No relationship to Wonder Woman, if you're wondering. Though they have faced each other in some crossovers. Also, he has nothing to do with an old superhero made by Will Eisner of the same name made decades before this one.
- Wonder Man vol. 1. (1986). One-shot.
- Wonder Man vol. 2 (1991-1994)
- Tales of the Marvels: Wonder Years (1995)
- Avengers Two: Wonder Man and Beast (2000)
- Wonder Man vol. 3 (2007)
- Captain America and the Avengers: Non-playable, Wonder Man appears with a hovercraft to help Captain America and Hawkeye cross large gaps.
- Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2: Non-playable, Wonder Man is a boss for the Anti-Registration side.
- Marvel: Avengers Alliance: He was winnable as a limited-time Special Operations hero.
Tropes seen in these series include:
- Actual Pacifist: Simon takes this up once he joins the Avengers Unity Squad, stating that things can't always be solved by punching things. He proves that during the Infinity storyline as he prevents his teammates from attacking a recently activated Inhuman and is able to find out what happened to his family.
- Always Someone Better: DC's Wonder Woman during JLA/Avengers. In an alternate reality where the Justice League and Avengers co-exist, Wonder Woman always beats Wonder Man in an annual arm wrestling contest with a smile on her face. Their fight in the Savage Land also goes Wonder Woman's way after she ties up Simon with her lasso.
- Asleep for Days: In the graphic novel Emperor Doom, Simon goes into a sensory deprivation tank for a month, and thus isn't around to notice when Doctor Doom uses his Mind Control device to Take Over the World. Since he's immune to the Purple Man's powers, it's up to Simon to stop Doom and restore free will to the world.
- Back from the Dead: More than once, like most heroes.
- Berserk Button: Wolverine learned the hard way that you don't taunt Simon about his unrequited feelings for the Scarlet Witch after being punched through a wall like a common Mook.
- Brain Uploading: Ultron used the comatose Simon's brain patterns to create a personality matrix for the synthezoid Vision. Coming to terms with the Vision, who was dismantled by the U.S. government after attempting to take control of the world's computer systems, Simon suddenly refuses to allow the Avengers to use his brain patterns after reassembling the synthezoid. Calling the procedure a violation, Simon refers to his "brother" as nothing but a copy.
- Brought To You By The Letter W: And on some costumes, the letter M.
- Cain and Abel: As kids, Simon was always the favorite while his brother, Eric, was considered the "black sheep" of the family. This made Eric jealous and bitter, leading to his later career as the villainous Grim Reaper.
- Celebrity Is Overrated: Torn between becoming a full-time actor and his superhero duties, Simon comes to this conclusion after the Abomination attacks during his latest movie's public relations gathering. Instead of being concerned by the destruction, Simon's actor friends are shallow and materialistic, forcing Simon to reconsider his life.
- Civvie Spandex: Though his original costume was a garish red-and-green affair, for much of Wonder Man's career he just fought crime in civilian clothes, or pants and a tank top with a big "W" symbol on it.
- Claustrophobia: Simon became mildly claustrophobic after years in suspended animation.
- Cool Shades: Originally worn to hide his red eyes, the shades become part of Simon's costume during his time in Hollywood.
- Cowardly Lion: Early in his career thanks to his fear of death.
- Curse Cut Short: During his fight with the assassin, Ladykiller, in Wonder Man: My Fair Super Hero #1:Wonder Man: Ah-ah. None of that. This is Hollywood, and this fight's been rated PG.
- Decomposite Character: In the Ultimate Marvel Universe, "Wonder Man" is a bit of an odd duck. Ben Grimm 'evolves' from his traditional rock-monster Thing look back into his burly human form with similar abilities ("ionic" energy projections, Flying Brick, etc) to the 616-Wonder Man. However, a later story arc in The Ultimates introduced it's own version of Wonder Man (who is actually named Simon Williams at that). His power set is significantly downgraded from his 616-incarnation, merely being gifted with Super Strength and Super Toughness acquired from his days as a Professional Bodybuilder and Olympian who fell from grace when it came to light he was using PED's laced with Mutant Growth Hormones.
- Embezzlement: Simon nearly went to prison for embezzling from his own company. Later, Simon would embezzle from his non-profit foundation, Second Chances.
- Energy Being: Initially downplayed, his flesh and blood tissues were fortified with an ionic treatment, meaning he was an energy being possessing an organic body. After he seemingly died, his body entered a coma that turned himself more completely into energy, a form he occasionally takes.
- Fingerless Gloves: Some of his costumes have these.
- Flying Brick: Much like Superman, he just started off as an invulnerable superhuman capable of In a Single Bound, replicating flight with various Jet Pack implements. Eventually he developed enough control over his energy form to perform true flight and eye beams.
- HeelFace Revolving Door: He started off as a mole for the Masters of Evil before Becoming the Mask.As of late he switches between an ally and antagonist to the Avengers.
- Horrible Hollywood: Simon becomes an arrogant movie star during his time in Hollywood. His actor friends aren't portrayed in the best light either.
- Immortality: Simon's immortality has always been an issue because it makes him feel less human.
- Jet Pack: Wonder Man used a jet belt to get around until he learned how to fly on his own.
- Minovsky Physics: His super strength is later explained by the Watcher as being derived from Pym particles, which are capable of modulating strength and density along with mass.
- The Mole: Wonder Man was created to destroy the Avengers from within. He ended up Becoming the Mask and sacrificing himself for them.
- Monumental Damage: The remains of the Statue of Liberty appear in Wonder Man: My Fair Super Hero #3. The statue was relocated to Paris after relations between the United States and France break down.
- The Needless: Simon neither breathes or consumes food, though he'll order meals on occasion when in shared company.
- Purple Is Powerful: Even though the most visible side effect of his powers is glowing red eyes his occasional ionic form is purple.
- Old Shame: Since Dark Reign, where he became a supporter of Norman Osborn's rule, he's been treating his time in the Avengers as this. He first tries to convince Steve not to reform the team and, when that fails, he decides to attack the team while Noh-Varr was building a time machine for them.
- There's also part of his acting career, being truncated by his constantly glowing eyes and drastic musculature, as sunglass wearing leotard clad "Mr. Muscles". Beast found it hilarious.
- Only Mostly Dead: Presumed dead after helping the Avengers defeat the Masters of Evil, Simon was actually in a deep coma while his body converted itself into ionic energy.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Type V. Eric Williams tried to revive Wonder Man using voodoo magic in New Orleans, but the Houngans' magic turned Simon into a mindless zombie.
- The Rival: Simon sees Iron Man as his rival from their time as competing business executives.
- Romantic Runner-Up: To the Vision, the synthezoid who possesses Simon's brain patterns. The relationship between Vision and Scarlet Witch might have been influenced by Simon's unrequited feelings for Wanda
- Robot Me: The Vision, who possesses a copy of Simon's brain patterns. Initially disturbed by the synthezoid, Simon eventually recognizes the Vision as a "brother".
- Second Place Is for Losers: Simon's father used to beat him if he got anything less than straight A's in school.
- Self-Made Man: The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! retcons Simon into one. Instead of inheriting Williams Innovations from his father, he built it from nothing.
- Shout-Out: Wonder Man: My Fair Super Hero #3 directly references Planet of the Apes using the Statue of Liberty. In the same issue, Beast uses Frasier Crane's "I'm listening" catchphrase, which is a reference to Kelsey Grammer, who played Beast in X-Men: The Last Stand.
- Size Shifter: Now latent, Simon used to have the ability to change size in battle.
- Smart People Play Chess: More brains than brawn growing up, Simon loved to play chess as a kid.
- Stunt Double: In-Universe. Taking advantage of his invulnerability, Simon worked as a stuntman when he couldn't find acting jobs.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Simon is killed in a Heroic Sacrifice in the first issue of Force Works. This lead to his second volume being accidentally cancelled because of it.
- Sunglasses at Night: He virtually always wears a pair to cover up his glowing red eyes when in civilian clothes.
- Super Strength: Often considered the third strongest Avenger after Thor and Hercules, Wonder Man is one of the strongest Earth-based heroes in the Marvel Universe. Captain America once described Simon's strength as Sentry-level, while Simon himself compared his punches to blows from Mjölnir, Thor's enchanted hammer.
- Tragic Villain: Simon's actions against the Avengers post-Siege are pushing him in this direction.
- The Unfavorite: Eric Williams, Simon's older brother.
- Welcome Back, Traitor: After the whole debacle with the Revengers, he's brought back into the Avengers fold after he helps rescue the Wasp from the Microverse.
- West Coast Team: Simon is one of the founding members of the West Coast Avengers.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: He's had some angst over being immortal.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: His heel face revolving is eventually figured to be a result of the energy that sustains his body leaking causing instability.
- The Worf Effect: To the point where it became a running joke in Runaways comic and in the Mighty Avengers he had to keep reminding everyone he was supposed to be as strong and tough as either The Sentry or The Mighty Thor.