While Marvel fans continue to viciously debate if the next Spider-Man movie should feature frequently rebooted (and exceedingly white) Peter Parker or the fresher (and exceedingly more diverse) story of Miles Morales, DC Comics struck a serious blow for diverse casting by releasing the first official images of Jason Momoa as Aquaman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.
The traditional interpretation of Aquaman has been a pale skinned blond king of the sea. The casting of Momoa was rumored for months before it was announced, and arguments that Aquaman being blond and pale are crucial to the character have been happening in article comments for months. And even though Momoa himself said that he would not be going blond for the role over a month ago, some fans still seemed surprised at the official pic.
— ZackSnyder (@ZackSnyder) February 20, 2015
So that’s basically how he ending up on the service but Jason Momoa’s Aquaman isn’t blond so I wonder how they’re gonna do that origin
— 4X SuperBowl Champs (@UglyCalifornia) February 21, 2015
The short version: at one point, Aquaman’s origin story involved having been abandoned as a baby because he looked “so strange,” and not like any other Atlanteans. Since DC has rebooted its universe multiple times since 2005, it’s probably fair to say that Snyder can play a little fast and loose with the details of the origin.
— The Nerds of Color (@TheNerdsofColor) February 21, 2015
Meanwhile, Wonder Woman is typically considered to be of Mediterranean origin (what with that whole Amazon thing), so the casting of Israeli Gal Gadot is also wonderful.
UPDATE: GAL GADOT to film for ‘WONDER WOMAN’ in the fall. MICHELLE MCLAREN directing. Film hits JUNE 23, 2017. pic.twitter.com/ULN04TCQ8o
— Superhero Feed (@SuperheroFeed) February 21, 2015
I get why people assume Gal Gadot is white because they assume ALL pretty, skinny brown women must be white, she’s not. She’s Israeli.
— Jeanne (@fangirlJeanne) February 21, 2015
While in the dark, uncomfortable corners of fandom there has been some griping about this, many fans are incredibly pleased. Momoa and Gadot are both popular actors who’ve proved their chops in multiple properties, and it’s about time that comic book movies got a little less white.
Jason Momoa spoke to the Daily Beast in January about the importance of his casting as Aquaman. While he was grateful for the work and its ability to feed his family, he sees it as part of a much bigger picture.
“I’ve had to bust ass to be in this industry. A lot of things are very black and white. Aquaman is especially cool because being a Kanaka Maoli—being Hawaiian—our Gods are Kanaloa and Maui, and the Earth is 71 percent water, so I get to represent that. And I’m someone who gets to represent all the islanders, not some blond-haired superhero. It’s cool that there’s a brown-skinned superhero.”
Most of the fans couldn’t agree more, and can’t wait to see what Jason Momoa and Gal Gadot bring to the screen.