Warning: minor SPOILERS for Justice League are ahead!
Justice League has a stacked cast filled with familiar faces and new characters, but not everyone who was announced to appear in the superhero team-up movie made the final cut. One of the "casualties" was Willem Dafoe, who is playing Atlantean advisor Nuidis Vulko in the DC Extended Universe. Vulko's introduction was one of the ways Aquaman's corner of the the DCEU would be explored in Justice League, and while Dafoe's character will still be seen next year in the Aquaman movie, Jason Momoa revealed that Vulko had to be removed from this latest DC blockbuster due to time issues. Recalling how Vulko fit into the movie, Momoa said:
There's a place where [Aquaman] goes down to, and it got cut out of the movie. He knows spots where he can go and he can see these statues, the remnants of [Atlantis]. There's Vulko--obviously we'll have way more scenes with Vulko, Willem Dafoe--in [the 2018 standalone] Aquaman. There just wasn't enough time in this movie.
Ah, time constraints. A common problem that pops up when putting together a movie, and unfortunately for Willem Dafoe, he was one of the folks who had to be excised from Justice League so that it could hit that two-hour running time. Perhaps Dafoe's deleted scenes will be included on the Justice League home media release, but we'll have to wait more than a year for Vulko's official introduction.
Nuidis Vulko has been a mainstay of the Aquaman mythos since 1967, though it was during Geoff Johns' Aquaman run during the New 52 that the character became more important. As Jason Momoa told GameSpot, Vulko will remain a key figure in Arthur Curry's life in the DCEU, and during Justice League, Vulko was meant to serve as the hero's primary connection to his Atlantean heritage. Momoa continued:
Vulko's his connection to Atlantis. I think what Zack [Snyder] and I did, we were kind of trying to establish that he was taken down there as a boy, and he was an outcast, he was a half-breed, and he was built up as a young boy, because he was fed all these ideas by Vulko--that he was the rightful king. And he gets down there, and he's a half breed, he's impure, and I'm just made to feel like I'm this disease. So after that, I was like, 'fyou, f you, I'm on my own.'
Although Vulko is one of Aquaman's biggest supporters in the comics, he has also take certain actions to help his king that Arthur Curry doesn't condone, making him a somewhat villainous character. It remains to be seen if Willem Dafoe's iteration of Vulko will following in those footsteps (especially given how often Dafoe plays bad guys), but judging by Jason Momoa's comments, it sounds like the DCEU's Vulko thinks just as highly about the cinematic Aquaman and is determined to see him take the throne, despite others in the underwater kingdom believing otherwise.
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Justice League is now playing in theaters, while Aquaman will be released on December 21, 2018. Check out our 2018 premiere guide to see what else comes out next year.