Who Are The Wonder Twins? Cancelled DC Movie Heroes Explained

Who Are The Wonder Twins? Cancelled DC Movie Heroes Explained

DC announced a Wonder Twins movie from Black Adam director Adam Sztykiel, but the film was scrapped only a month after the announcement. Known as Zan and Jayna, the titular siblings became famous in comics for their ability to shapeshift by touching hands and exclaiming, “Wonder Twins powers, activate!” This obscure team of metahumans has been around since the 1970s, and were supposed to appear on screen together when the Wonder Twins movie was announced, then canceled. Here’s why the Wonder Twins got the boot and who they are.

The DC Extended Universe has gone through various forms since Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel got things started in 2013. Although Warner Bros. now seems to be burning bridges with the Synderverse, the initial DCEU films have a much darker, more grounded tone that has been the source of much debate over the years. The studio has recently taken a more lighthearted (albeit still graphic) approach with more well-received projects like The Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey, and John Cena’s Peacemaker. This has sparked a debate among audiences, as some believe that the films should stick to the original tone, while others think they should do what works financially and critically.

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In making this tonal shift, the DCEU has begun highlighting some of DC’s goofier characters, such as Polka Dot Man, Peacemaker, Shazam, and the now-canceled Wonder Twins movie. Zan and Jayna (named after Tarzan and Jane) and their monkey Gleek have been making the rounds in the DC comics for a while now, and at first, it seemed Warner Bros. had finally decided that the duo deserved their own feature film – a whole month before deciding they didn’t. The Wonder Twins have a fairly complex history, with varying backstories and appearances, so a lot is unknown about these obscure characters. Here’s everything to know about the Wonder Twins, and why their feature film debut was canned.

The Wonder Twins’ Origin In DC Comics

Unlike most other DC superheroes, the Wonder Twins didn’t first appear in DC Comics. Instead, they were created for The All-New Super Friends Hour, a Hanna-Barbera cartoon that mixed preestablished DC heroes with original characters, such as the Wonder Twins and their blue pet monkey Gleek. After debuting in Super Friends, the Wonder Twins quickly jumped mediums and began appearing in the comics, starting with Super Friends #7 in October 1977. The characters have become a DC staple, appearing in comics, television shows, and video games.

Like most confusing DC character origins, the Wonder Twins have seen a wide variety of backstories over the years, with their different television and comics counterparts all having various canons. However, it seems as if most writers default to their Super Friends backstory. Hailing from the planet Exxor, Zan and Jayna are members of an ancient alien race that was devastated by a plague. However, the twins have a mutation that allows them to shapeshift—something other members of their species cannot do. After their parents die, they are adopted by the ringleader 0f a space circus and perform as a sideshow attraction.

Once they got older, the twins (along with a blue monkey named Gleek) escaped the circus and hideout on the same planet as Grax, an alien supervillain, and enemy of Superman. After doing surveillance on the tyrant, they discover that he plans to blow up Earth. The Wonder Twins decide to travel to Earth to warn the Justice League, and, alongside the team, they foil Grax’s plans. Zan and Jayna decide to stay on earth, where they live with hypnotist Professor Carter Nichols, join the Justice League, and develop alter egos as Swedish foreign exchange students.

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The Wonder Twins’ Powers In DC Comics

Wonder Twins Zan Jayna DC Comics

Similar to other transforming alien heroes like Martian Manhunter and Chameleon Boy, the Wonder Twins are shapeshifters that can morph into all sorts of valuable objects and living things. Brother Zan can turn into any state of matter, the main three being solids, liquids, and gases. He has turned into things like monsoons, ice golems, liquid nitrogen, and more throughout his adventures. To become one of these substances, Wonder Twin Zan must exclaim “Form of…” followed by whatever he wants to turn into. Like Teen Titan’s Beast Boy, Sister Jayna can turn into any animal from any planet or mythology. She has transformed into a vast array of fauna, such as birds, whales, elephants, mosquitos, sloths, and a variety of alien lifeforms. To transform into whichever animal she chooses, Jayna must exclaim “Shape of…” followed by the animal she wants to turn into. To activate their powers, the two must be making physical contact, usually in the form of touching fists, and exclaim, “Wonder Twins powers, activate!”

The Wonder Twins also have some lesser-known powers. Zan and Jayna share a telepathic link, which allows one twin to alert the other when they are in danger. They are also (depending on which variation of the heroes it is) resistant to mind control, which can be helpful against telekinetic villains like Brainiac. The twins tend to use their powers to work together in various creative ways. When they need to travel long distances, Zan will turn into water and enter a bucket, while Jayna will turn into a bird and pick up the bucket before flying wherever the two are needed. Their monkey, Gleek, also has some special abilities. Due to his tail, Gleek is an expert at climbing things. Also, if the twins cannot reach each other, Gleek can grab both of them, and their powers will activate, acting as a type of conduit.

Where Else The Wonder Twins Have Appeared In Live-Action

Crisis on Infinite Earths Gleek Cage Superfiriends Arrowverse Space Monkey

The Wonder Twins have made several live-action appearances, being referenced with Easter Eggs in DC properties. Zan and Jayna appear in Smallville season 9, episode 8, helping Tom Welling’s Clark Kent fight crime. Their attempted assistance goes poorly, making Clark have to clean up an even bigger mess. Although it is not confirmed that they are from another planet, it is implied in the episode. Once again, the twins claim to be Swedish, although their less odd appearance makes it a little more believable this time. They also have pictures of Gleek on the back of their phones, but he doesn’t make an appearance.

The two members of the Super Friends have been referenced in the Arrowverse several times throughout its history. In The Flash season 1, episode 12, Barry Allen saves two people named Zay and Jayna from a burning car. This time, though, they are a couple rather than twins, and they are not shown to have any superpowers. Although their appearance is brief, and Zan’s name is slightly changed, the two are undoubtedly a reference to the Wonder Twins. Although this easter egg may have made it seem like the chances of the Wonder Twins appearing in the Arrowverse were slim to none, that would soon be changed. Later, in the crossover event Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Wonder Twins are once again teased, this time as a possible setup for future appearances. At the end of the special, a monkey’s laugh can be heard in the background right as things are wrapping up. Then, a cage labeled “Gleek” is seen sitting open, implying that the Wonder Twins’ notorious monkey had escaped. Although this has not been paid off yet, Arrowverse fans are eagerly awaiting the debut of the Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna.

Related: Is The Arrowverse In Trouble? New Cancellations Are Another Bad Sign

A Wonder Twins Movie Is No Longer Happening

Wonder Twins Is Exactly What DC Movies Need Right Now

Warner Bros. and HBO Max announced that New Zealand actor/singer KJ Apa (Riverdale) and American actress Isabel May (Young Sheldon) were set to play Zan and Jayla, respectively. Only a month after, HBO Max and Warner Bros. confirmed that the Wonder Twins movie was no longer happening. While no explicit reason was stated for the cancelation, there are some insights to be gleaned from the timing of the announcement. The casting declaration came in the midst of the Warner Brothers-Discovery merger. The merger came with a caveat that Discovery’s president David Zaslav would cut $3 billion worth of costs in the new company. The Wonder Twins movie was initially given a budget of $75 million, which may not have fit in with the studio’s new plans. In addition to this, Discovery plans to do a gigantic overhaul of DC Entertainment, which could result in a couple more programs getting the boot so there can be more room for more successful franchises to flourish.

Initially, Black Adam director Adam Sztykiel was set to direct and write the Wonder Twins movie. However, it won’t be coming to fruition. All in all, it’s safe to say that the Wonder Twins movie was canceled due to a lack of funds and lack of interest. A $3 billion budget cut is nothing to sneeze at, and it’s likely that even more programming will be cut/rearranged to make sure that the money studios are spending is catered to a broader audience. The characters themselves are pretty unknown in the context of the DCEU, and frankly, a bit silly. Though the DCEU is giving more comedic characters a chance, like Peacemaker, it’s hard to imagine the Wonder Twins movie featuring the duo fighting crime in a gritty bloodbath sort of way. Therefore, it’s better if they introduce the pair in the Arrowverse first, to gauge people’s reaction, rather than give them a movie right off the bat.

Next: Black Adam’s Justice Society Looks Way Cooler Than Expected

The Flash (2023)Release date: Jun 23, 2023
DC League of Super-Pets (2022)Release date: Jul 29, 2022
Black Adam (2022)Release date: Oct 21, 2022
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023)Release date: Mar 17, 2023
Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2022)Release date: Dec 21, 2022
Blue Beetle (2023)Release date: Aug 18, 2023

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Robert Pitman
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Robert Pitman is a Movies/TV features writer for Screen Rant and loves all things nerdy. He has had experience with editing and SEO in his time working at WVUA 90.7 FM, the University of Alabama’s official student radio station.

Robert is currently a freshman at the University of Alabama and is doing a double major in Creative Media and General Business.

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