The King of Atlantis has arrived! Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder dropped the first image of Jason Momoa suited as Aquaman, and he’s nothing like we’ve ever seen before. When you think of the model-turned-surfer-boy rendition of Smallville, as played by Alan Ritchson, this version of Arthur Curry looks a million times better — and way more badass. Comic book fans have been making their jokes for a while now, and Snyder has heard them all. But no matter what grievances you might take with this new look, Aquaman bodes great things to come for the DC universe.
Marvel had an early start in their shared cinematic world expansion plans, and unfortunately the saying goes, "The early bird gets the worm." When Warner Bros. revealed the map of the DC superhero line-up, some were doubtful of its success. "A Green Lantern movie? When the Ryan Reynolds one went so horribly wrong so fast?" "An Aquaman movie? You guys have been trying to make one for a long time to no avail? What makes now any different?"
This latest reveal of Aquaman should tell you at least one thing, though: he does look pretty stellar.
The super-powered Atlantian bore the brunt of everyone’s jokes for years. He’s not as strong as Superman, not as smart as Batman, he can’t fly, and his powers aren’t necessarily the flashiest. He’s basically the Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child. The Jan Brady of The Brady Bunch. The Sea-Man of South Park’s "Super Best Friends."
Zack Snyder, however, is a huge fan of the character. A while ago, he reminded everyone that Aquaman has nearly impenetrable skin, strength and durability, due to the fact that he can survive at the deepest depths of the ocean without being crushed by the weight of the seven seas. The first-look image also shows him grasping the Trident of Neptune, which is the mark of the ruler of Atlantis and bears a number of various abilities. In the comics and animated series and movies, this relic was able to grant Aquaman mental mastery over all water to the point of creating tidal waves and maelstroms. He could also summon tempests and emit lightning bolts from its prongs.
Though it’s just a first look, and we don’t want to prejudge the future of the DC cinematic universe too much, the fact that Snyder and co. were able to create something worthy of Khal Drogo says a lot about the direction we’re heading in. Fans criticized Ben Affleck’s casting as Batman (dubbing him Batfleck), they criticized Gal Gadot for not having a Wonder Woman-worthy physique and they bashed Jesse Eisenberg’s casting as Superman nemesis Lex Luthor. And so far, the WB has proven them wrong at every turn. And it’s thrown some curveballs in the process.
While it took a little while for Marvel to please the fans and diversify its film universe, the WB is doing that right off the bat. Wonder Woman is played by an Israeli model-turned-actress, Cyborg will be played by African-American Ray Fisher, The Flash will be portrayed by LGBT actor Ezra Miller, and Momoa’s casting brings even more ethnic color. Snyder even described the character as more of a Hawaiian surfer, and the first look has hints of this influence. It also bodes well for future castings in the DC movies.
It’s still unclear just how many members of the Justice League will be present in this universe, but there’s at least one more superhero that needs to be cast: Green Lantern. Fast and Furious star Tyrese Gibson has been heavily campaigning for the part, but fans are understandably on edge. The Reynolds-led Green Lantern of 2011 was a major disappointment, but if Snyder can make Wonder Woman, Batfleck and now Aquaman look incredible on paper, then there’s hope for Hal Jordan or John Stewart or whoever DC decides to go with.
The only concern at this point, at least in terms of Aquaman, is the physical worlds these heroes inhabit. Despite the Atlantian’s look, there’s still the fact that his domain is under the sea, which is not the easiest thing to render on-screen in an authentic and believable way. With his solo movie coming up in a few years, it’ll be interesting to see how they develop this — or if they’ll choose to skip his ocean kingdom altogether. There are currently a couple of scripts in the works and WB will run with the best one. Could this mean an origin story for Arthur Curry that sees him primarily on land? Or will we dive to the depths of his homeland?
No matter what course this ship takes, I’m personally already on board. Though they’re small previews of what’s coming, Snyder’s first look images have done wonders to turn my attitude around towards the DC films. And Aquaman will be the one to "unite the seven."