Believe it or not, once upon a time Aquaman was considered cool. There isn’t actually a source for that or anything. I’m just assuming it’s true because he’s been around for so long, so DC comics must have good reason to keep him around. At the very least, he was an original member of the Justice League and that has got to count for something. Regardless, DC has had an undeniably tough time popularizing the guy for a long time now. But it looks like the decades-long slump for Aquaman is over.
Ever since the first image of Jason Momoa as Aquaman was released, the world knew that things were looking up for the swim trunk superhero. Jason Momoa is poised to do the impossible: Make Aquaman cool (again), and the following are five potential ways he could do it.
1. Momoa’s screen history
With Jason Momoa comes his unquestionably badass screen history. Roles such as Khal Drogo from HBO’s Game of Thrones and the title character in the recent Conan the Barbarian remake have made Jason Momoa synonymous with the heroic and admirable warrior archetype. And die hard fans of Momoa will remember his time on Stargate: Atlantis, so it’s not exactly like he’ll be out of his element as Aquaman.
While comic readers and dedicated fans of Aquaman know that there are plenty of ways the character is hardcore (stay tuned for No. 3 on this list), the general public have a hard time sharing this belief. Momoa’s typecast image of a stoic, battle-hardened character should benefit the portrayal of Aquaman in the new, grittier DC lineup that started with this year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Aquaman will also get his own standalone movie that is currently scheduled for release in 2018, according to IMDb.
2. A darker characterization (possible antagonist?)
Speaking of the more gritty direction DC (i.e. Zack Snyder) seems to be going with their superhero movies, there’s real potential in making Aquaman the center of that grittiness. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice already set the precedent of conflict among superheroes so who’s to say this trend won’t continue? Momoa’s screen history of anti-heroes even lends itself to a darker direction for Aquaman. Not to mention that there’s certainly a precedent for this.
In the “Flashpoint” comic book story arc, written by Geoff Johns, the Flash wakes up in an alternate, much grimmer, timeline. Many things are different in this timeline but the main point of conflict revolves around an Amazonian-Atlantean war. The timeline portrays a much fiercer and brutal Aquaman who is willing to participate in a war that could destroy the planet. This comic gave readers a glimpse at just how dangerous and harmful the king of an underwater civilization could be to the rest of the world. It’s unlikely that these exact events from “Flashpoint” will play out in a Momoa-led Aquaman movie, but there is certainly a chance for Aquaman to be seen as less of a hero for humankind and more of a monarch of Atlantis.
3. Aquaman is strong, but conflicted
We got a few more details about Aquaman’s story arc in the movies, thanks to a DC Films special that aired on The CW in January 2016. “His name is Arthur Curry,” explained DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns. “He is the son of a lighthouse keeper and the queen of Atlantis, and he starts to develop these powers. He can breathe underwater. He can communicate with sea life. He’s very strong.”
And although he’s very strong, Momoa suggested that Aquaman’s mixed background is a source of conflict for the character. “He’s the only one who is both a human and he’s a god,” noted Momoa. “I want to seem him struggle with the fact that he has these powers and doesn’t know how to handle them. He hasn’t been trained.”
4. Jason Momoa has two hands
This one sounds really weird at first, but with a brief explanation, you’ll see why this could be the coolest part about Momoa’s Aquaman. Despite all of the jokes at the character’s expense over the years (or possibly because of), Aquaman made one of the greatest personal sacrifices of any of the major heroes in DC’s lineup: He lost one of his hands.
There are multiple explanations for how this happens, depending on which canon you look at. In the comics, one of his enemies forces Aquaman’s hand into a pool full of pirahannas while he is temporarily unable to communicate with sea life. In the Justice League Unlimited episode, “The Enemy Below,” Aquaman’s loss of his hand is somewhat more dramatic. With his infant son in grave peril and his hand chained up with no way to cut through the metal, Aquaman is left with no other choice but to saw it off.
It’s unknown if DC will go with either of these routes in regards to Aquaman’s hand (hopefully they do and hopefully it’s the latter). But the fact that Jason Momoa is depicted with two hands in the press photo seen previously, there’s at least a chance we’ll see him make the sacrifice play in order to save his family. Is there really anything cooler than that?
5. Hawaiian heritage
The original Aquaman was named Arthur Curry and white, blonde, and blue eyed. So it’s a good change of pace that DC has cast Momoa, who is Hawaiian by descent and from Honolulu. Historically, Hawaiians had strong ties to the ocean and sea life. They were expert navigators that explored the pacific island regions hundreds of years before Europeans.
What effect will all this have on the way Momoa will portray Aquaman? Absolutely none. Momoa was raised in Oklahoma and while he has a deep respect for his heritage (see his participation in the Mauna Kea protests), it would be extremely unfortunate if DC/ Warner Bros. tried to take advantage of that and capitalize off that heritage. That being said, it is always appreciated when studios are willing to make a casting call like this. Aquaman was created when comics were predominately only read by white men. Times have changed and comics are welcomed and supported by all sorts of demographics. Plus it really helps to change the notion that only handsome white guys can be superheroes. Clearly handsome Hawaiian guys can be too.
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