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Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Marvel Characters He'd Be Perfect To Play

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta in Aquaman
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

With his recent stunning performances in The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Nia DaCosta and Jordan Peele’s Candyman sequel, as well as forthcoming roles in The Matrix Resurrections and Ambulance (to name a few), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has quickly established himself as one of Hollywood’s top leading men, which makes his absence from the Marvel movies a little perplexing. 

Of course, it's likely it has something do with his role in 2018’s Aquaman (and its upcoming sequel) as Black Manta, and in HBO’s Watchmen cast as Dr. Manhattan, which earned him an Emmy Award in 2020. However, he would not be the first DC movies actor to transition into the Marvel Cinematic Universe so, just in case, I had a few characters in mind - such as one with a similar aesthetic to his DCEU character.

Grasshopper from Marvel Comics

(Image credit: Marvel)

Grasshopper

In April 2021, DC decided to give James Wan’s proposed Aquaman spin-off, The Trench - along with Ava DuVernay’s New Gods movie - the boot and, the following October, the director revealed in an Instagram comment (via Nerdist on Twitter) that it was a secret Black Manta solo movie all along. That news certainly makes the cancellation a lot more disappointing, because I think Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is one of the best things about Aquaman and the one of the few who might have actually deserved his own DCEU spin-off. 

Well, if he cannot have his own movie as Black Manta, perhaps he could have his own MCU installment as Grasshopper - another character with insect-like armor, but also a more heroic agenda and goofier personality, which the actor has rarely had the chance to try out on screen yet.

Cardiac from Marvel Comics

(Image credit: Marvel)

Cardiac

On second thought, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is really good at playing serious characters, and perhaps he should be able to continue that reputation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by playing more serious characters with serious backstories, such Dr. Elias Withram. Debuting in a 1990 issue of Amazing Spider-Man, the doctor (following the tragic, untimely death of his brother) would start calling himself Cardiac after he developed an artificial skin made of Vibranium to protect himself while fighting crime, with the use of an artificial heart that can project concussive energy blasts. 

The character actually exists in the MCU (if you still count Netflix’s Marvel TV shows as canon, that is), having been mentioned in The Defenders series. Now, all he needs is a proper introduction, and Abdul-Mateen II certainly has the talent and the “heart” to really make an impression.

Blue Marvel from Marvel Comics

(Image credit: Marvel)

Blue Marvel

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s talent was put on full display (among other things) on HBO’s Watchmen as Dr. Manhattan (essentially the “Superman” of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ groundbreaking graphic novel), who assumes the appearance of a Black man in this continuation. When Underworld cast member and comic book writer Kevin Grievoux had the idea to reimagine Superman as a Black man and set his story during the Civil Right movement, the result was the creation of Blue Marvel (a human given superhuman abilities, including flight, hyper-cosmic awareness, and anti-matter manipulation) in 2008. 

Bringing Adam Bernard Brashear’s alter ego to the big screen sounds like a recipe for the most powerful MCU period piece yet and, as someone with experience in both superhero movies and biopics, Marvel should look no further than Abdul-Mateen II.

Silver Surfer from Marvel

(Image credit: Marvel)

Silver Surfer

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is part of the The Matrix Resurrections cast as a “resurrected” Morpheus, who was played in the original trilogy by Laurence Fishburne. The 60-year-old Academy Award nominee (who is also a veteran of both the MCU and the DCEU) previously starred in the 2007 sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, as the voice of the titular, shiny alien, while beloved horror movie actor Doug Jones provided the motion-capture performance. 

Whenever Marvel Studios decides to bring Norrid Radd (which the Silver Surfer is otherwise known as) into the MCU, I think they should cast somebody who can match both the voice and the physique of the character and, right now, my top choice for that role just happens to be Fishburne’s replacement for the Matrix movies.

X-Men character Bishop from Marvel Comics

(Image credit: Marvel)

Bishop

Another Marvel character who I think deserves to be revamped for the MCU (especially in the hope of getting a little more screen time than before) is Lucas Bishop - an Alpha-level mutant born in the 21st Century A.D. of alternate timeline Earth-1191. He has strong abilities in energy absorption that make him capable of plenty more than what is just on paper, in addition to impeccable skills in hand-to-hand combat and expert marksmanship after years of police training. 

The undeniably badass character was first played by French actor Omar Sy in X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014, and we would need an undeniably badass actor like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II for if / when the character comes back after Marvel Studios’ X-Men reboot. Hell, give him his own movie this time. 

Brother Voodoo from Marvel Comics

(Image credit: Marvel)

Brother Voodoo

However, in the case of bringing Brother Voodoo into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I am open to the idea of seeing him team-up with Benedict Cumberbatch’s character in a Doctor Strange sequel before he gets his own movie, since fans already hoped that might be the case with director Sam Raimi’s upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Anyway, I do not necessarily care how the MCU chooses to bring the Haitian-born Jericho Drumm into its continuity, because I definitely want to see because his ability of inter-dimensional travel throughout the Marvel Multiverse and his reputation as the Sorcerer Supreme in the world of Voodoo sounds amazing. The fact that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II was originally born in New Orleans, Louisiana (a city rich in its history of voodoo practices), is only one of several reasons his candidacy to play this character is solid.

You know, I think I might have just convinced myself that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is the best (if not the only) one who can pull off the role of Brother Voodoo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Is it bad that I am now wondering how long he has until his contract with DC expires?

Jason Wiese

Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.