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,"
The trailer reveals Nicole Kidman as the 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.
Also shown are the film's two baddies, Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and Aquaman's half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson, and his love interest, red-headed Mera (Amber Heard).
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 bust 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.
Aquaman opens Dec. 14 in the UK, Dec. 21 in the US, and Dec. 26 in Australia. Merry underwater Christmas, DC fans!
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Cast: Who's who?
Plot news, rumors and theories
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
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."
Is Aquaman's weapon a quindent or trident? In Justice League, the hero wields a five-pointed weapon, officially known as a "quindent." That's not totally wrong: Aquaman has fought with that weapon in the comics. But as Momoa said in a 2017 interview, the hero will get his trident back in the standalone film.
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.
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