How Aquaman Will Be Shakespearean, According To James Wan

Jason Momoa as Aquaman

It hasn't been that long since we watched Jason Momoa's Arthur Curry, a.k.a. Aquaman, team up with Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg and Superman to defeat Steppenwolf in Justice League, but the water-savvy hero won't have too much longer to relax. When the Aquaman movie comes later this year, Arthur will not only have to battle Black Manta, a dangerous treasure hunter from the surface, he'll also have to deal with Orm, a.k.a. Ocean Master, his treacherous half-brother who wants the Atlantean throne for himself. Looking specifically at sibling conflict, Aquaman director James Wan noted that the upcoming DC movie is infused with elements you'd find in one of William Shakespeare's classic tales, saying:

The main antagonist in this movie is Orm, played by Patrick Wilson. And Black Manta, played by Yahya [Abdul-Mateen], is caught up in that world with them as well. But the main drive really is, it's almost a very classic Shakespearean story about brother from another world vs. brother from another world. And it really is a classic story of sibling rivalry.

James Wan is of course referring to Hamlet, where the eponymous character's uncle, Claudius, had killed his brother and seized the throne of Denmark for himself right before the story began. Aquaman will present a similar scenario, with Patrick Wilson's Orm desiring to become Atlantis' king and is willing to achieve that goal by any means necessary. The fact that he and Arthur share the same mother won't mean a thing. In fact, if he's anything like his comic book counterpart, Orm will be resentful towards Arthur because he's half-human, and therefore, in Orm's mind, isn't worthy of ruling over Atlantis. Arthur's adversarial relationship with Orm is one of the best aspects of the Aquaman mythology, so it's good to hear Wan telling EW that their rivalry will be the main driving force in the movie. That being said, I expect that upon Aquaman's release, there will inevitably be comparisons to Thor and Loki's relationship in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

When we last saw Aquaman in Justice League, he wanted nothing to do with Atlantis or the wider surface world, instead spending his days in a small Icelandic village and its surrounding bodies of water. But after saving the world and making some new super friends, he decided to embrace his royal heritage and swam back to the underwater city. Much like T'Challa taking the Wakandan throne earlier this year in Black Panther, Arthur assuming the Atlantean throne in Aquaman will be fraught with challenges, as he'll have to look out for both Atlantis' wellbeing while also making sure that its citizens don't invade the surface. Throwing Ocean Master and Black Manta into the mix will make matters all the more complicated.

Aquaman dives into theaters on December 21, so keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more updates about the movie. As for what else the DCEU has on the horizon, you can find that information in our handy guide.

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.