Jason Momoa’s audition tape for Game of Thrones’ Khal Drogo has done two things by going viral: it’s shown us that Momoa was born to play Drogo, and it’s shown us that Aquaman could actually be a great character on screen.
Quiet as it’s kept, Jason Momoa’s Aquaman has the most breakout potential of anybody on DC’s recently announced Justice League lineup of movies.
Superman is a boy scout, and Cavill didn’t really bring anything new to the character in Man of Steel.
The rest are interesting, but are you really clamoring for a Flash movie? Have you forgiven DC for 2011’s Green Lantern atrocity? Do you even know who Cyborg is?
Aquaman, though, Aquaman could be interesting, especially in light of Momoa’s Khal Drogo audition tape. Why? Because Khal Drogo and Aquaman are, in a way, two sides of the same coin.
How’s that? Well, both Khal Drogo and Aquaman are kings. Granted, the former is an awesome king who was gone too soon from Game of Thrones while the latter is pretty much a total joke in the comic world, but that problem is actually pretty easily solved.
Aquaman’s original origin had the character as the son of a “famous undersea explorer,” an explorer who discovered the lost kingdom of Atlantis and – drawing on books containing their ancient wisdom – taught his son to breathe underwater and oh my god this is so dumb it hurts to type it.
Fast forward through several reboots – each largely met with yawns – and we find Aquaman to be the half-human, half-Atlantean son of Doesn’t Matter and Who Cares. There’s still an Arthurian – as in England’s King Arthur – edge to the character. That’s to say: he’s still based on the Western model of royalty, and he’s still pretty boring.
And that’s where we’ll find our hope. In casting Momoa, Warner Bros. have signaled that the Aquaman you’ll see in Batman v Superman and Justice League will only share a name with the boring, blonde also-ran from the comics.
Look back at that Khal Drogo audition tape. It’s a safe bet that that’s the guiding star for designing Aquaman for film. For Western audiences, Momoa’s recreation of the Maori haka dance is stunning and intense and largely unfamiliar. Don’t believe it? Check the looks on the faces of the U.S. Men’s Basketball team when their New Zealand opponents performed the dance before their match.
The key to making Aquaman palatable for the big screen just might be to make him a kind of royalty that Westerners, at least, will find wholly unfamiliar. Why should the King of Atlantis look, talk, and behave like the King of England? Wouldn’t it be more fun if Aquaman is more Vaes Dothrak than Buckingham Palace?
Of course it would, and ComicBook.com recently quoted Momoa pretty much saying he’s going to bring as much of that Khal Drogo audition into Aquaman as he can.
“The greatest thing for me,” Momoa said this weekend at Walker Stalker Con in Atlanta, “is that Polynesians, our gods, Kahoali, Maui, all these water gods, so it’s really cool and an honor to be playing a [water] character. And there’s not too many brown superheroes, so I’m really looking forward to representing the Polynesians, the natives.”