How The Aquaman Movie Will Tackle Characters Talking Underwater, According To James Wan


Aquaman may not be as high profile a superhero as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, but he's slowly becoming more of a household name thanks to his introduction to the DC Extended Universe. After cameoing in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and fully debuting next year in Justice League, Jason Momoa's Aquaman will lead his own movie in 2018. When you think about it, that project aims to be one of the most ambitious superhero movies yet, as a lot of the movie will take place underwater. However, one of the big problems with that setting is how the characters will communicate, but fortunately, director James Wan already has a solution.

During an interview with IGN, James Wan admitted that because Arthur Curry and the other characters will have waters in their lungs, there won't be an air bubble for them to talk normally. Since speech bubbles aren't an option, Wan aims to work around this by adding a "sonic" quality to the underwater dialogue in Aquaman. He explained:

I love the idea of underwater speaking but with a real sort of sonic, aquatic quality to it. So there's this sort of aquatic, almost sonar/whale thing. Even though it's in a human language, there's this slight sort of underlay to it, this ping to it, which I think would be interesting for us to design from a sound design perspective. Yeah, it will be fun. Also, Zack has some ideas that he'll be doing in Justice League.

While he haven't seen him fully in the action yet, the DCEU's Aquaman is the defender of the Seven Seas, and although he can fight with ease on land when necessary, he's more comfortable within Earth's aquatic depths. For simplicity's sake, having the Atlanteans speak English is the best course of action, and while literally talking underwater isn't the scientific approach, including that "sonar/whale thing" is a cool way to distinguish their communication from how us land-lubbers talk to one another. Wan also admitted that Justice League will be "an experiment" for him about what works and what doesn't concerning Aquaman, so the exact communication methods might differ between that movie and his solo adventure. Originally I was going to suggest using telepathy in the same way that Aquaman controls sea life, but since regular Atlanteans aren't gifted with that ability in the comics, that would be a drastic change for this universe.

Details about Aquaman are scarce, but the latest report states he'll be battling Black Manta, arguably his great adversary from the comics. Moviegoers will get the first taste of his kingdom, Atlantis, in Justice League, where we'll meet the live action iterations of Mera (played by Amber Heard) and Vulko (played by Willem Dafoe), both of whom are returning for Aquaman. Beyond that, we can look forward to the trident-wielding hero battling threats across the seas, whether they're human, Atlantean or some kind of sea monster.

Aquaman swims into theaters on July 27, 2018.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.