What Willem Dafoe’s Vulko Was Going To Do In Justice League

Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Mera (Amber Heard) and Vulko (Willem Dafoe) talk in Aquaman 2018

While James Wan's Aquaman is the first film to fully dive into the story of the titular superhero, audiences did get a taste of his world in Zack Snyder's Justice League. Not only was it the first time we really got to know Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry, but Amber Heard also made her debut as Mera. In a cut scene, Willem Dafoe was also supposed to make his first appearance as Vulko, and now, thanks to Geoff Johns, we know what his scene entailed:

There was a scene at the end where Vulko showed up and gave Arthur the trident.

It was never expected that Willem Dafoe was going to have a huge role in Justice League -- the actor openly acknowledging that the work was setting up for Aquaman -- but it was still a surprise when he didn't appear in the movie. It was part of the material that got removed when the blockbuster underwent major reshoots, and details about it have mostly been vague. That is still kind of the case, but at least we have a better idea of what was initially going to happen.

This information came out of an interview I did last week with Aquaman writers Geoff Johns, Will Beall, and David Leslie Johnson, the subject coming up when discussing the overlapping productions of the new film and Justice League. I asked how work on one wound up impacting the other, and the cut scene with Vulko came up as an example.

From what I was told, it doesn't sound like the Vulko cameo was ever really intended to be a big set up for Aquaman from a plot perspective, however his absence did wind up creating a certain demand in the James Wan movie. Specifically, Justice League was no longer going to serve the purpose of introducing audiences to Willem Dafoe's character -- Aquaman's longtime mentor -- so the 2018 movie had to build the on-screen presence from the ground up. Said Johns,

Yeah, there was a scene with Vulko in Justice League that was cut out. But we just really stayed in communication, because when that scene got cut out it was like, 'Okay, we've got to introduce Vulko now. We can't just drop him in, we've got to meet him. It was little stuff like that.

Without more context it's hard to say exactly how Vulko's scene in Justice League would have fit into the DC Extended Universe timeline, particularly because Aquaman is seen using his mother's trident a lot in the film, and his quest for the King's Trident is central to Aquaman. It's possible that any kind of conflict with continuity could be explained, however, by the Snyder movie's aforementioned post-production changes.

Those who were particularly sad not to see Willem Dafoe in Justice League will be happy to know that he plays a prominent role in Aquaman, starring within an awesome ensemble cast that also includes Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Nicole Kidman. The film arrives in theaters this Friday, December 21st, and we'll have plenty more coverage coming your way over the next few days and weeks here on CineamBlend.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.