Of course, the biggest news these days is the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a movie that’s impressively filled with cameos and surprise appearances (as usual, it will take a while to get a pic for each one of them: stay tuned to learn everything you can about them). Let’s start from an announced photo cameo, the one and only Simon Williams, an actor portrayed in-movie by Nathan Fillion. Williams only appears on some posters, the ones for his many movies, that include a Tony Stark biopic, the fantasy Arkon, the horror Axan 2, the romantic comedy Oh, Rebecca! (pictured) and the superhero-parody Toxic Janitor 2. In the comics, Williams is indeed an actor, but he’s also Wonder Man, an impossibly powerful superhero… who dies roughly as many times as Kenny in South Park. Let’s see together.
Simon Williams was born in Paterson, New Jersey, the son of rich industrialist Sanford Williams and of his wife Martha. Simon, a skinny bookworm, grew up in the shadow of his older brother, Eric, but when he refused to enter Williams Innovation as his father’s successor, the youngest Williams stepped in, eager to earn his place in the family. Sanford taught his son everything he could about management, but he died when Simon was little more than twenty years old, and although young and inexperienced, Simon inherited total control over the company. Despite his best efforts, Simon wasn’t exactly able to run the company in an increasingly competitive market, and started losing ground to emerging companies such as Stark Industries: desperate, he looked for Eric’s advice, since his older brother had managed to get rich on his own. Unfortunately, what Simon didn’t know was that Eric was indeed a successful man, but only because he had become involved with the Maggia crime families; the advice he gave to his younger brother was one you could expect from a gangster, as he told Simon to embezzle Williams Innovation’s funds to invest them into Maggia activities. Trustful and desperate to protect his father’s legacy, Simon did as he was told… but he was immediately caught into stealing the company’s money, and when the board discovered he was involved with renowned criminals, they had him arrested, put on trial and sent to jail. Distraught, humiliated and embittered, Williams declared to the press that he blamed Tony Stark for what had happened to him… a declaration that attracted the attention of Baron Zemo, who was looking for a way to get revenge on his enemy, Iron Man (who, at the time, he believed to be Stark’s bodyguard). Zemo sent one of his Masters of Evil, Amora the Enchantress, to break Simon Williams out of jail, then brought him to his base in South America where he offered the disgraced businessman a way to get his revenge: he would have been subjected to an experimental treatment to gain superpowers. Williams accepted, and gained power enough to effortlessly defeat the mighty Executioner in his first test.
Of course, albeit holding a grudge against Stark, and being naive to a fault in trusting the likes of the Masters of Evil, Simon was no supervillain… but Zemo ensured his total cooperation by informing him that, as a side-effect of the experiment, he would have died if he didn’t receive a special antidote once a week. Obviously not wanting to die, Williams agreed to do what Zemo told him: the Baron renamed him “Wonder Man”, and instructed him to win the Avengers‘ trust and to join them, only to betray them when the time came. Soon after, Zemo staged a battle between the Avengers and the Masters of Evil, with Wonder Man readily intervening to save the heroes; introducing himself, Wonder Man told them he suffered from an incurable disease, that he was about to die and that he wanted to do something good with his life before passing away. The Avengers fell for it, and Giant-Man even worked hard to find a cure for his state, but to no avail. Eventually, the time came that Wonder Man was ordered to lure the Avengers into a trap, but in the meanwhile he had experimented on himself how truly good-hearted and heroic they were: feeling guilty, he chose to rebel to the Masters of Evil, and battled them alongside the heroes, only to “die” immediately after for the lack of his serum, happy to have done something good with the last moments of his life. Obviously, this wasn’t the end for Williams, as his “death” was just a coma caused by the unstable nature of his new ionic body. During his unconsciousness, Wonder Man’s body was collected and used by many, as his consciousness was downloaded by Ultron to create the mind pattern for his creation, The Vision, and later even his brother Eric, who in the meanwhile had become the villainous Grim Reaper, tried to use his remains to defeat the Avengers. He was also used as a puppet by villains like Kang the Conqueror and Black Talon, but every time he was resurrected as a “zombie” he was much weaker than before… basically because he was sleepwalking. Finally, the ionic hero returned to true life, just in time to help his fellow Avengers against heavy-hitters such as Attuma, Doctor Doom and Graviton. He “came back to life” with quite a psychological trauma, after all those years in a coffin, but thanks to his friends, Beast especially, he was ready to face them to become the hero he wanted to.
Simon Williams is a well-meaning but impulsive man, who wishes to do good in his life but ends up embracing an embarrassing number of bad choices… always finding the courage and the will to amend, of course. As Wonder Man, he’s a being composed of pure ionic energy, a unique nature that grants him a variety of abilities: he’s impossibly strong, pretty much invulnerable, impervious to fatigue, extremely fast, gifted with enhanced senses and theoretically immortal, since he doesn’t age and he can heal from any kind of wound to any extent (a characteristic that allows him to come back from the dead over and over again); he’s also able to fly, to alter his size and to manipulate ionic energy into powerful blasts, and possibly even more, since the full extent of his powers is still unknown, mostly due to the traumas that prevent him to fully explore them. Hurt but not broken, Wonder Man is a phoenix who constantly rises from his ashes, always trying to be the hero he desperately longs to be, in a constant struggle between his fragile psyche and his inhumanly powerful body.