Amber Heard entered the world of big screen superheroes in last year's Justice League as Mera. Although her role was small in that team-up film, the character of Mera clued audiences in about the larger mythology at play under the sea. We learn more about that mythology when we visit Atlantis in this December's Aquaman. Mera will be the co-lead in that film opposite Jason Momoa's Aquaman, but she almost wasn't. When she was first approached about the role in Justice League, Amber Heard was not planning on taking it, but Zack Snyder convinced her by selling her on who Mera is, as she explained:
I said, 'I am not interested.' Then, Zack Snyder explained to me a little bit of who this character was and he said, 'she's a warrior queen, this is no damsel.'
Amber Heard was not interested in playing the stereotypical damsel in distress that is always waiting to be saved by the burly hero. Historically those kinds of characters are not the most interesting or complex and probably don't provide much in the way of challenge for an actor. Zack Snyder clearly understood this and attempted to sell Amber Heard on who Mera is as a character. As Amber Heard told ET Canada, Zack Snyder mentioned that Mera is a warrior queen, which obviously sounds awesome, and getting to have a sword and a crown piqued her interest. We saw a glimpse of Mera the warrior in Justice League, where she did not hesitate to mix it up with Steppenwolf to defend the Mother Box.
Amber Heard also said that Zack Snyder told her to check out the comics, and there she saw that Mera is not just the female counterpart to Aquaman. Mera is not Aquawoman, but is her own character with her own name, story and agency. And we've heard that Mera's story in Aquaman will see her as an incredibly loyal and disciplined Atlantean, with a militaristic bent who must go to the surface world and get the loner Arthur Curry to help. This will make for an interesting contrast between the two with each having their own strengths. Zack Snyder's Mera pitch clearly worked, and now Amber Heard is one of the main characters with a compelling story in one of the biggest movies this year.
Seeing a badass warrior queen like Mera is probably part of the reason that Aquaman is polling so well with women, for whom it is one of the most anticipated movies the rest of this year (although Jason Momoa probably has something to do with it too). Reports out of early screenings for the film were generally positive, indicating that Aquaman will be good, if not great, and that's okay.