(SOUTH BRUNSWICK, N.J) — A small-town Florida native from Tangelo Park, just outside of Orlando, is now one of the most recognized characters from the new hit Disney+ show WandaVision. His character is the source of many conspiracy theories online. Some fans believe Payton is the next Marvel supervillain. Despite playing a fairly innocuous neighbor and often the comic relief, fans are theorizing that Herb is something bigger, while Marvel continues to keep mum about future plans for its universe.
The man behind the fun-loving neighbor (and potential supervillain) is David Payton.
“I’m just a Tangelo Park kid. My mom was living off of Mercy Drive, Paramore, some of the tougher neighborhoods in the Metro Orlando area. Destiny brought me to Tampa and that’s where my acting career is on the uprise,” Payton said. He previously held roles on Chicago P.D. and David Makes Man.
After the show’s release Payton is getting recognized by fans all over the world. “I had a couple of people recognize me because I’m wearing my WandaVision hat because it’s really comfortable. They catch it, and someone sees me out and says, ‘You look familiar. Are you the guy from WandaVision? OMG, that’s my favorite show.’ I say yes, and I get excited on the inside, but my ego says, ‘Payton, just chill. They are fans of Marvel. They are not a fan of yours yet,” said Payton.
Bitten by the acting bug at a young age, Payton recognized his dream early on. “I think I have been acting since I was a little kid. I always love entertaining, playing pretend, and becoming the character. There is a true joy to do that,” he told me. His sister always knew he had a gift. “The day that I knew he was destined to act was when I saw him in a play written in medieval vocabulary, yet he acted out the character so precisely that he made you feel, made you believe that he actually was akin to that time,” said Nancy Paulin.
Determined to succeed, Payton continues to work on his craft to become a more successful actor. One of his fellow scene partners, Simone Farrell, said he challenges her as an actress. “When I was new to class he was one of the first people I did a scene with. We went out there, and it was one of our best scenes,” said Farrell.
Of course, Payton doesn’t just go out and relay lines, he undergoes a preparation process for his character embodiment. “For any role, I always have to do a character assessment. I create the who, what, where, when, and why. Once I create that atmosphere, I try and find the events in my life that are relatable. So it’s not David Payton you are seeing on that screen. It’s that character you see on the screen,” said Payton.
Being a part of a Marvel series, which served as a turning point for his career, has been a dream come true for Payton. “It’s freakin’ amazing. Everybody is dope, from the janitors to the casting crew, background, the directors, of course, the leads. I had the opportunity to work with a lot of the lead actors, like Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Kathryn Hahn, a lot of those guys, and just to be in their presence was dope.
Like every child, David Payton was a comic book fan growing up. He was a fan of action heroes and every Marvel movie that came out. “When I got this role it made me look deeper into the storyline,” said Payton.
According to Comicbook, fans believe that Payton could be one of the biggest villains hidden in plain sight. Payton’s character’s name is Herb, a possible similarity to High Evolutionary. High Evolutionary is also known as Herbert Wyndham who first appeared in the 1966 Marvel comics #134 The Mighty Thor. Comicbook notes that Herb is also seen with many cutting devices throughout the show such as garden shears in the opening scene of Episode 2 or cutting the wall with a chainsaw in Episode 3. The latter, the 1970s themed episode, started speculations there could be an “Easter egg” hidden in plain sight or a foreshadowing clue for eagle-eyed fans. When Herb is sawing the fence in half there is a possibility this was a take on High Evolutionary splicing DNA, a crucial storyline of the comic villain.
Keith Williams, a former Marvel comic book artist, believes anything is possible in the Marvel Universe, and he wouldn’t be surprised if Herb was High Evolutionary. “The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a different reality to the comic universe,” said Williams.
Like so many in an important franchise, Payton cannot give away any Marvel secrets and deflected when asked if Herb is the biggest villain.
The Upcoming WandaVision star has seen some articles and videos on social media rumoring him to be High Evolutionary. From the previous episodes, Herb is an interesting character that has a gripping relationship with Vision, one of the show’s lead characters, played by Paul Bettany.
When asked about his dream role, Payton named many. “Spawn would be one of my favorite action hero movies growing up. Seeing Michael Jai the actor was really dope. To see an African-American male play a superhero,” he said. “I have a lot of dream roles. But my most important [role] would be one that will inspire someone else. Whatever that role is, however, I do it, as long as it inspires a young Black kid or any kid with what to do in life. At the end of the day, I feel like it’s never about you with acting—it’s always about the story. So why not be an inspiration.”
The show is making history with 28 Emmy Award Nominations.