The Aquaman Scene That James Wan Says Was Influenced By Star Wars And The Karate Kid

Young Arthur Curry catching trident in Aquaman

Although he first cameoed in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, last year's Justice League gave us our first real taste of Aquaman in the DC Extended Universe and what he's capable of as a superhero. This winter, the water-dwelling superhero will take center stage for, you guessed it, Aquaman, and among the many things the movie has in store is exploring Arthur Curry's past. The first Aquaman trailer was released this past Saturday during San Diego Comic-Con, and one of the scenes showed a teenaged Arthur catching a trident. Director James Wan explained that this moment, which takes place during a training sequence on a beach, is meant to pay homage to movies like The Karate Kid and Star Wars: A New Hope, where wee see the "master" train the student. In Wan's words:

There was a part of me that wanted to have a Miyagi/Daniel-san moment in the movie where he's training him on the beach, basically. The only thing he's not doing is the crane kick. For me anyway, what makes origin stories and origin superhero stories really fun is just watching the training sequences. Watching how they become who they are, and that is a sequence in the movie where his mentor, played by Willem Dafoe, Vulko, trains the boy. How to potentially use the trident. When Willem and I spoke very early on, we always saw him as an old school samurai warrior, like an Obi Wan Kenobi training Luke Skywalker. That was the influence, and Willem is such a big fan of Toshiro Mifune. He's modeling himself after Toshiro Mifune in all the classic Kurosawa films. Even down to the way Willem looks in the movie. His hair is pulled back into a bun like a samurai warrior, and his sword's behind his back.

The Aquaman trailer showed us that Arthur Curry's ability to communicate with aquatic life developed at an early age, but being Aquaman is more than just "talking to fish." He also needs to be a skilled fighter, and now we know that Willem Dafoe's Nuidis Vulko, Atlantis' counselor, is responsible for turning Arthur into a warrior. In the comics, Vulko, while certainly not a pushover, is primarily involved in Arthur's life as an advisor, and he didn't even meet Arthur until our intrepid hero reached adulthood. But for the Aquaman movie, as James Wan told Fandango, at least in the earlier years of Arthur's life, Vulko was the Mr. Miyagi to Arthur's Daniel LeRusso, the Obi-Wan Kenobi to his Luke Skywalker, the comparisons stretch on. And evidently part of that training includes learning how to catch a trident. You never know when that might come in handy.

Seeing bits and pieces of Arthur Curry's adolescent life should be helpful, but the movie's main story will see Arthur traveling to Atlantis to claim the throne before his half-brother Orm, a.k.a. Ocean Master, declares war on the surface. As if preventing a conflict between humans and Atlanteans wasn't hard enough, Arthur will also have to deal with the laster-blasting mercenary Black Manta. Fortunately, Aquaman has allies like Mera and Vulko by his side, though if Vulko's comic book history is any indication, he might have his own agenda to carry out.

Aquaman dives into theaters on December 21, so stay tuned CinemaBlend for more news surrounding the movie. Don't forget to also look through our DC movies guide to learn what else is in development for the DCEU.

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.