While Aquaman has been a part of pop culture since his creation in 1941, the upcoming Aquaman movie offers a major opportunity for reinvention. We've already gotten a taste of what Jason Momoa is bringing to the character courtesy of Justice League, but his solo adventure will be a chance for the DC Extended Universe to dig much deeper. So what does Jason Momoa want people to see from the hero in James Wan's movie? In his own words, he wants him to be perceived as blue collar:
I think I wanted to make [the guy you can have a beer with]; I think that's why they kind of hired me to play the role. I mean, he's serious, but he's just jaded. He's just seen so much, and he doesn't really trust anyone. I think it's all about building the trust, and that's the whole Justice League thing - just being the team. You can't sit down and have a beer with Superman, you know what I mean? You can't. I wanted Aquaman definitely to be that guy - that he's blue collar. I mean the whole thing about him, I wanted him blue collar: he's raised with his dad, worked on bikes, worked on old cars with his father, and at a certain age he's given this gift. He doesn't know how to deal with it.
While primarily set after the events of Justice League, Aquaman will dive into the character's origins and unveil his unique background, and it seems it will be this exposure to his roots that will reveal him as the blue collar hero Jason Momoa wants you to see. This comes from a roundtable interview I did last summer on the set of Aquaman, which I had the chance to visit along with a small group of other film journalists. We had a good amount of time to sit down with Momoa to discuss his vision for Arthur Curry, and a bit part of it for him is recognizing the character's humanity in addition to his power.
Continuing, Jason Momoa further explained how that that divide between two worlds advances the character and makes him a deeper individual. He is in the unfortunate position of being a part of two very different worlds, and that in a way makes him a part of no worlds. He has his prejudices on both sides, but it's also his relationship to both that Momoa believes will make him a just king when he gets to that point. Said the actor,
His dad doesn't want him in the water, cause he doesn't want him taken away. The only thing he does know is that his mother was killed. He wants nothing to do with these people. Fucking hates 'em. And, I wanted to see what kinds of jobs he did when he left his dad's house, working on big oil rigs. He can go underneath, and he saved people and he hasn't saved people. And the side he can't cope with is his human side. That's what makes him great. That's what's gonna make him a great king, is his humanity.
Jason Momoa clearly sees Arthur Curry as individualistic but driven by a strong morality, and is working to make him an everyman in that way. In contrast, though, the same can't really be said for Black Manta -- the legendary DC Comics villain who will be adapted in live-action for the first time in Aquaman, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. During our time with the actor, he was asked what he would say to his character if he were to see him in a bar, and he had a very comical response:
I wouldn't sit next to that motherfucker! I would not... You don't give that man advice; he's not going to take it! Thank you so much! I tried to give you something back for that as an answer, but I'm like, 'No, no, I'm not going to sit next to him!'
These are some enlightening takes on important characters, and we are now just a few months from seeing them up on the big screen. Aquaman will be bringing its eponymous hero and Black Manta to theaters this December, specifically on December 21st. With a supporting cast that also includes Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Ludi Lin, Temuera Morrison, and Nicole Kidman, we are definitely excited -- and will have more for you from my time on set soon.