DC’s Wonder Twins Have Always Been a Joke. That’s a Good Thing

KJ Apa and Isabel May have been cast in DC's Wonder Twins movie. Here's how you can check out the characters' earlier animation and DC Comics adventures.

Wonder Twins from DC Comics
Photo: DC Comics

Warner Bros. is making a Wonder Twins movie for HBO Max. Yes, you read that right, the Wonder Twins. As in, the two purple-clad alien teenagers who can shapeshift when they touch hands and shout “Wonder Twin powers, activate!” Of course, their shapeshifting is somewhat limited as Jayna can only transform into animals and Zan can become water…as in liquid, solid, or vapor. Basically, they’re just useful enough to be the equivalent of interns with the Justice League without overshadowing any of their more traditionally superheroic teammates.

They seem like an unlikely pair of candidates for a superhero movie, don’t they? Adam Sztykiel is writing and directing a film that will go directly to HBO Max, and the studio has tapped KJ Apa (Riverdale) and Isabel May (1883) to play Zan and Jayna. For ’80s kids, the Wonder Twins are almost synonymous with their early experiences with the DC Universe. For everyone else? Well…

So how can “form of/shape of” curious folks learn everything they need to know about these fairly obscure DC heroes? Well, for one thing, every episode of Super Friends, where they were first introduced, is currently available on HBO Max. If you need your Wonder Twins fix, they appear in the seasons The All-New Super Friends Hour (season 2 on HBO Max), The World’s Greatest Super Friends (season 5 on HBO Max), Super Friends (season 6, 7, and 8 on HBO Max), and Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show (season 9 on HBO Max). But honestly, unless you grew up with these shows, they might not connect for a modern audience.

But the real place to start for modern audiences, and the piece of DC history that feels like it’s most likely to influence the movie, would be Mark Russell and Stephen Byrne’s brilliant and thoroughly hilarious Wonder Twins series from DC Comics, which more explicitly outlines their roles as Justice League interns while also exploring the “reality” of two alien teens trying to have a normal high school existence. Imagine something as irreverent about its place in the DC Universe as HBO Max’s Peacemaker or Harley Quinn shows (albeit far less filthy and violent) and that is packed panel-to-panel with background gags and jokes that enrich its storytelling world, and you’ll start getting an idea of what’s in store for you there. The Wonder Twins movie would do well to draw inspiration from this comic.

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“Their super powers are so limited, and minor, means they’re not the people you’ll call when there’s an asteroid hurtling towards the earth, or when Doomsday is attacking,” Wonder Twins comic writer Mark Russell told us in 2019. “They’re the people you’ll call to break up a forging ring, or shoplifters, or something small.”

As a result, this comic features Zan and Jayne squaring off against primarily annoying bad guys like Drunkula and Red Flag, whose codenames may seem self-explanatory, but whose jokes never get old on the page. In fact, perhaps the closest parallel to how this particular Wonder Twins series portrays the DC Universe isn’t in the comparisons to those aforementioned HBO series, but rather in the way The Venture Bros. so effectively deals with the mundanity of superheroics and supervillainy. And it’s every bit as funny, too. The series has been collected as two volumes, Wonder Twins Volume 1: Activate! and Wonder Twins Volume 2: The Fall and Rise of the Wonder Twins. The entire series is also available on DC Universe Infinite.

There’s no release date yet for the Wonder Twins movie, but it will probably arrive on HBO Max in 2023.