Jason Momoa looks pretty menacing as Aquaman.
Poor Aquaman. It’s been tough for the King of the Seven Seas to overcome the campy reputation he earned from the 1970s Super Friends cartoon, where he was famous for chatting with sea creatures. But DC Comics took a huge step toward redeeming the character by casting Jason Momoa, the tattooed, tough-guy actor best known as Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones. He combines that biker bad-guy attitude with a magnetic charm that makes Aquaman believable as a hero and magnetic as a personality.
The movie’s first trailer made a huge splash at San Diego Comic-Con in late July, and as of early August, it’s been watched more than 35 million times.
You know the basic plot: Momoa’s Arthur Curry, also known as Aquaman, is half-Atlantean and half-human, and has superhuman strength and the ability to manipulate ocean tides. He can also swim at supersonic speed and famously can communicate with other aquatic life. The trailer shows him as an adult and also as a child, a boy who felt like an outsider both on land and in the water.
Don’t expect your run-of-the-mill hero-in-tights offering.
“I wanted our film to be more unique,” Wan said at Comic-Con. “So my movie plays more like a science fiction fantasy film than a traditional superhero movie.”
The trailer reveals Nicole Kidman as our hero’s mother, Queen Atlanna, and Temuera Morrison as his father, lighthouse keeper Thomas Curry. It also shows a memorable scene of the young Arthur being teased at an aquarium, with the aquarium’s swimming residents coming to his aid against bullies.
But maybe the best scene shows the warriors of Atlantis on great white sharks (YES!) about to battle the warriors of Xebel, who are riding sea dragons, a humorous poke at the cartoon image of Aquaman riding a docile seahorse. Apparently Wan watched Super Friends, too.
“My version of the seahorse is a sea dragon, or a super-charged seahorse, and they’re terrifying,” Wan told IMDb host Kevin Smith at Comic-Con. “They’re scary. You don’t want to go around one of these, because they will kill you,” Wan said, laughing.
Release date, production info
Various takes on an Aquaman movie have been shopped around since 2004. This movie began filming in Australia in spring 2017, with scenes shot in Canada and Morocco too.
Momoa made his first appearance as Aquaman in 2017’s Justice League. This standalone film is set after that movie’s events. Justice League was a good preview for Aquaman, as fans saw Aquaman swimming and didn’t burst out laughing.
Director James Wan is perhaps best known for his work in horror films. He directed 2004’s Saw, as well as Insidious and The Conjuring. Will Beall wrote the screenplay, based on a story by Wan and comic-book writer Geoff Johns.
And when the film’s official credits were added to the film’s official website, Zack and Deborah Snyder were listed among the executive producers. The Snyders have produced every DC Extended Universe film, but as ComicBook.com notes, there were behind-the-scenes whispers that Zack Snyder’s role might be changing. After his daughter Autumn’s death in 2017, Snyder withdrew from post-production work on Justice League to be with his family.
The film is rated PG-13 for “sequences of sci-fi violence and action” and “for some language.”
Aquaman opens Dec. 14 in the UK, Dec. 21 in the US, and Dec. 26 in Australia. That’d make for a merry underwater Christmas for sure. But as of August 2018, some reports say the Australian release date could be moved to Dec. 14 as well. (Warner Bros did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
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Cast: Who’s who?
- Jason Momoa as Aquaman/Arthur Curry
- Amber Heard as Mera
- Patrick Wilson as Ocean Master
- Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko, Atlantis’ chief scientific adviser
- Nicole Kidman as Queen Atlanna
- Temuera Morrison as Arthur Curry’s father, Thomas
- Dolph Lundgren as King Nereus
- Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta
- Ludi Lin as Murk, the leader of the Men-of-War, the frontline army of Atlantis
- Michael Beach as Jesse Kane, Black Manta’s father
- Randall Park as marine biologist Dr. Stephen Shin
- Graham McTavish in an undisclosed role
Plot news, rumors and theories
Early reviews: Reviews started to trickle out in late August, with ComicBook.com reporting that the film is “shaping up to be a good movie, but not anything that’s going to change the game for superhero cinema.”
Who’s the villain in Aquaman? Aquaman’s comic nemesis, Black Manta, will be played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. Black Manta has a number of complicated backstories in the comics, so it’s anyone’s guess which one will make it into the movie. He’s also famous for his cartoony look, a black wetsuit with a bug-eyed, alien-style helmet. And the helmet will make it into the film: In February, director James Wan shared a photo of Abdul-Mateen recording lines by talking into a trash can, explaining that it was a “fancy way of simulating the inside of a certain large helmet.”
But don’t for a minute think that Black Manta is the only bad guy. Patrick Wilson will play Aquaman’s evil half-brother, Ocean Master, also known as ORM and Orm Marius. Ocean Master’s origin varied somewhat in the comics to match Aquaman’s, but he shares one parent (sometimes dad, sometimes mom) with the superpowered swimmer. In fact, Wan says it’s Orm, not Manta, who’s the real villain. “It’s almost a very classic Shakespearean story about brother from another world vs. brother from another world,” Wan told Entertainment Weekly. “And it really is a classic story of sibling rivalry.”
Wilson has a take on his character too. “He’s kind of an eco-warrior,” the actor told EW. “He’s got a very clear gripe with the surface world, which has been polluting his oceans for centuries.”
How will Aquaman speak underwater in the movie? It was OK in Super Friends for Aquaman to converse with fish via underwater bubbles, but that would be campy and laugh-inducing in a Serious Superhero Flick. As early as 2016, director James Wan has addressed the communication issue, saying,”I love the idea of underwater speaking but with a real sort of sonic, aquatic quality to it.” Expect a “sort of aquatic, almost sonar/whale thing,” Wan said. Aquaman will speak in human language, but with a “slight sort of underlay to it, this ping to it.”
Quindent to trident In Justice League, the hero wields a five-pointed weapon, officially known as a “quindent.” In late August, ComicBook.com reported that the film features Aquaman trying to find “the true trident, the king’s trident,” not the quindent used in Justice League. With that trident, he can “control the whole ocean,” a DC publicist said.
Who will Dolph Lundgren play in Aquaman? The Swedish actor and martial artist, 60, will play King Nereus, ruler of Xebel, Wan said in 2017. But there’s some debate about how Nereus fits into the plot. In the comics, Nereus competes with Aquaman for the love of Mera, but Lundgren told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that his Nereus is Mera’s father. “We’re trying to avoid war between the surface (dwellers) and the people of Atlantis,” he said.
Sorry, Junior: Some of us remember Aqualad, the hero’s sidekick (voiced by Wil Wheaton in the Teen Titans animated series!) but don’t look for him in the film. Take it from Black Manta himself.
Aqualad ain’t gon be in the movie y’all. Lol Confirmed!! ???
— Yahya Abdul-Mateen 2 (@yahya) July 26, 2018
Editors’ note: This story was originally published June 12, 2018 and is updated as new information floats in.
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