Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice may have divided audiences around the globe, but there’s no denying the film had an impact and that it delivered on its core objective: to help establish the Justice League movies. While Marvel is very much into the later phases of their superhero domination with The Avengers and various MCU associated franchises, DC is just getting its challenge off the ground, and despite the mixed reception, it has people in a frenzy about the future of the Justice League.
Job done? Only partially.
Spoiler alert: While Batman v Superman introduced us to Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and The Flash, all core members of the Justice League, the one that presents the biggest challenge is Aquaman. He made an appearance in Batman v Superman too, but the giggles that erupted from cinemagoers on his somewhat mysterious cameo proves something that everyone already knows: Aquaman has a huge reputation for being a lame hero and the butt of the jokes in the DC Universe. Warner Bros. has a job to convince people of Aquaman’s merit as a hero, and director James Wan not only relishes the huge challenge of making this happen, but he welcomes it.
James Wan has a reputation for helming unique movies — Saw, The Conjuring, and Furious 7 have all been huge financial successes — so it’s no surprise that the director is looking forward to bringing Aquaman to the masses. His goal: To smash audience expectations. He recently spoke with MTV News to share his thoughts on the character.
“A big part of it was me telling them what potential I saw in this character. As we all know, Aquaman is somewhat the butt of the joke in the superhero world. There’s something cool about that. I love the idea of being the underdog, coming in with a take on this underdog character and completely blow people’s expectations away. Like, ‘Oh, you thought he was going to be a wimpy character? No no no.’ It’s going to be so cool.”
It’s interesting to get Wan’s perspective on this, and it’s a positive way to look at the character and his film. The battle lines have been drawn in the sand, so to speak, and Warner Bros. wants to make Aquaman stand apart from his tame, laughable comic book incarnation. Hiring James Wan was a master-stroke, as the director is very much in demand at present after grossing over a billion dollars for Furious 7, and casting Game of Thrones muscle man Jason Momoa in the starring role is a step in the right direction.
The DC Extended Universe is a lot darker in tone — you only have to look at Momoa’s black and white outfit, gone are the orange and green — so expect a lot of his more comedic traits to remain in the comic books. Where jet skiing on dolphins might be a little laughable, controlling and commanding giant sea creatures might not. Remember, Aquaman is the King of Atlantis, so DC may look to utilize that.
DC have tried to redefine the character before, and the King of Atlantis has gone through many different looks over the years. In what will be seen as a cooler iteration, Aquaman grew a beard, lost his shirt, and had his hand replaced with a massive hook. His personality received a huge overhaul too, as DC made the character edgier and more serious. This version appeared in the Justice League animated series, which is also reflected in Momoa’s costume. The hook isn’t there — yet — but his impressive trident looks to play an important part in his story if the cameo in Batman v Superman is anything to go by.
On another interesting note, Aquaman features in the New 52 series, which is written by DC’s CCO Geoff Johns. Aquaman, and his alter-ego Arthur Curry, both underwent another modification in this series, which restored the orange and green costume but kept the edgier, serious personality. His mythology was also expanded, something that not only made Aquaman more accessible to readers but also explained his powers a little better. Where the character used to be a joke, the modern version seems to be a little more appreciated. With Geoff Johns currently helping to shape the DC Extended Universe — he co-wrote the solo Batman movie with Ben Affleck, as revealed by Total Film — you can expect to see some elements from the New 52 appear in the final movie.
But first, Aquaman will appear in Justice League Part One, a fact that James Wan cannot ignore.
“There’s Justice League that happens before it, so I have to be respectful to that, but in a lot of ways… it’s a continuation but there are origin elements as well — and that’s the story that I’m excited to tell.”
Batman v Superman may have got Justice League Part One off to a rocky start — depending on your point of view — but nonetheless, one thing is for certain: DC is bringing the big guns to play. It’s go big or go home for the studio, and their statement of intent is clear. Aquaman may have a reputation for being a lame hero, but everything points to this image being shattered. We will see come November 2017.
Aquaman will first appear in Justice League Part One, which is released on November 17, 2017.
Aquaman is slated for release on July 27, 2018.
[Image via Warner Bros. Pictures]