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Superhero movies have featured many different kinds of romantic relationships, from vigilante partners dating to obsessive crushes, but James Wan's upcoming Aquaman should offer up a different flavor for fans of the genre -- specifically with the titular hero (Jason Momoa) and Mera (Amber Heard). Rather than being a long-time colleague turned significant other or a love that needs to be kept secret from the world, the movie will instead take pages out of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Romancing The Stone in mapping that bond. Or as producer Peter Safran puts it,
I wouldn't necessarily call it in this movie a love story... The whole movie is in the vein of Indiana Jones. Y'know, James [Wan] wanted to tell this swashbuckling, fun, quest movie. It's a great time for everybody to see. So the relationship is a little bit Michael Douglas-Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone, which is ultimately a romantic action movie. But I wouldn't say it's actually a romance. There is a great antagonism because of the places they come from. She is all about duty and honor, and he's all about looking out for number one.
Last summer I joined a small group of film journalists to fly out to Melbourne, Australia to visit the set of Aquaman when it was still in production, and over the course of the day got to talk with many of the movie's stars and filmmakers. In those interviews, one subject that repeatedly came up was the relationship between Arthur Curry and Mera -- and with those questions came responses about deep love and affection for those movies.
In referencing Raiders of the Lost Ark and Romancing The Stone, what's really being suggested is that Arthur Curry and Mera won't really get along at the start of Aquaman's story (as previewed in last year's Justice League). Much like Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood, and Jack Colton and Joan Wilder, they'll be forced together because of circumstance -- specifically on the hunt for the King's Trident -- and in that time learn how to appreciate one another.
During our interview with Jason Momoa, the actor made mention of just how important those two movies were to him when he was growing up. Rather than being into the big action movies of the 1980s and 1990s, he was raised by his mother watching romantic adventures and the classics. As a result, he was thrilled to find those kinds of dynamics in the relationship between Aquaman and Mera, saying,
I love Romancing the Stone - I grew up with my mother. I wasn't watching Conan The Barbarian; I was watching Casablanca and Gone with the Wind and Rear Window and Romancing the Stone. So I loved those movies, what I grew up with, and obviously Raiders. It's like Star Wars, it's just a world we haven't seen before. And, I think the bickering between the two of them [Aquaman and Mera], and also when they slowly start to enjoy each other and fall in love, I think it's just a timeless story that's just fun.
Amber Heard shared similar sentiments, but didn't tie them back to her own movie-watching past. Instead, she noted that what she appreciates about her key relationship in Aquaman is how it allows the film to access many different genre shades while never losing an identity. Specifically, like with Raiders of the Lost Ark and Romancing The Stone, the love goes hand-in-hand with the adventure, rather than being parallel or working at cross purposes. Said the actress,
I actually liked that about this film as well. I was drawn to the script because it didn't sacrifice one element in order to achieve the other. It's as much adventure as it is classic superheroes, as it maintains elements of rom-com. I mean, it has all of these elements -- and of course done by a horror master. So I really like that our film kind of respects all these different genres. I was drawn to the adventure probably the most.
Mera has become a powerful figure in her own right on the pages of DC Comics, and before long fans will be able to see her up on the big screen adventuring with Aquaman. The blockbuster will be in theaters on December 21st -- which should give you plenty of time to rewatch Raiders of the Lost Ark and Romancing The Stone to prepare.