Who is the Grim Reaper in Marvel? Wonder Man’s brother, explained

Image via Marvel Studios

The Marvel universe is wide, expansive, and deep, making keeping up with it a job in itself. There are countless main characters, heroes, villains, and victims. To make things even more complicated, they often mess with time, meaning there is a metaverse of possibilities to contend with. A new series, Wonder Man, is being developed Disney Plus which will introduce a full new slew of characters for audiences to know, and the Grim Reaper is one of them. His presence in the universe was foretold when eagle-eyed Marvel fanatics spotted his helmet in the animated intro of WandaVision’s second episode. So who is he? How does he fit in? What can audiences expect from him? Let’s take a deeper look.

Wonder Man’s origins

To understand who the Grim Reaper is, one has to first examine how the character of Wonder Man was created and portrayed in the comic books. Wonder Man was created by the late Stan Lee and artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby in 1964. He first appeared in The Avengers #9 where it seemed like he died. At first, Wonder Man was less than wonderful and was instead a super villain with “ionic” energy who worked against the Avengers. His next appearance would be four years later in The Avengers #58 when readers learned he was not actually dead but was uploaded to a computer. This is where the WandaVision connection comes into play. While he was in the system, he interacted with Vision. In June of 1977 in The Avengers #160, Wonder Man finally gets his body back and joins the good guys. He develops a close friendship with The Beast as the pair both like to party.

Wonder Man’s character backstory

Wonder Man was not always Wonder Man. He was born Simon Williams and is the son of Sanford Williams, a wealthy munitions manufacturer and owner of Williams Innovations. If this sounds familiar to you, you are on the right track. Williams Innovations biggest competitor was Stark Industries, run by Tony Stark also known as Iron Man. Sanford dies and leaves his company to his son Simon. Simon tries to keep it going but is losing massive profits because of Stark Industries. His brother Eric gives him some bad advice to embezzle from the company, and he gets caught but an unexpected ally bails him out. At his wit’s end, he agrees to work with the villain Baron Heinrich Zemo who needs someone to act as a mole in the Avengers. Simon agrees and is given an ion treatment to transform into Wonder Man with superhuman strength. Wonder Man turns on Zemo at the last minute sacrificing himself for the Avengers, but as previously stated, he eventually comes back.

The Grim Reaper

Remember Simon’s brother Eric who gave him the bad advice? Well he eventually becomes the Grim Reaper, but let’s take a look at his childhood to find out why. Eric did not have an idyllic one. His mother Martha openly preferred his brother Simon. She told Eric he was born bad and that became a sort of self-fulling prophecy. Eric’s father Sanford was left to discipline him when he got unruly but often could not be bothered to look up from the television. Eric understandably became jealous of his brother Simon, becoming more and more rebellious. He gambled to fill the void of his family’s neglect, eventually joining the Maggia, a mob-like crime syndicate, and moved to Vegas.

Simon reached out to his brother for help when the family business was failing. Eric had Simon embezzle money and invest it with the mob to save it, but this backfired as Simon was caught. When Simon “dies”, Eric does not know the whole backstory. He blames the Avengers and gets in touch with the Tinkerer to get his revenge. The Tinkerer supplies him with a scythe to use as a weapon and Ultron imbues it with the ability to put someone in a coma. A super villain and foe to the Avengers is born.

What we know about the Wonder Man series

Andrew Guest, writer best known for his work on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Community, and Destin Daniel Cretton, director of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, are co-creators of the Wonder Man series. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is slated to star as the title character, with Ben Kingsley reprising his role as Trevor Slattery. It is not officially known who is playing Grim Reaper but the word on the street is Demetrius Grosse is in talks with Marvel about it. An official release date has also not yet been announced, but filming is supposed to begin this month.