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16 years after he left his mark on the world of Marvel Comics by playing the Green Goblin in Spider-Man, Willem Dafoe made his DC movie debut in Aquaman, where he appeared as Nuidis Vulko, mentor to Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry. However, that wasn’t the first time that Dafoe played Vulko, as originally the plan was to introduce the character in Justice League and use him to flesh out Arthur’s past and status in Atlantis.
Alas, like so many other things from that movie, Willem Dafoe’s Justice League appearance was scrapped. Now, over two years after its release, director Zack Snyder has posted some images of these Vulko scenes. Let’s start with one that places the man front and center.
Along with having longer hair and wearing a different outfit than the one he wore in Aquaman, what stands out about Vulko in Justice League is that he looks more unkempt. Whether this is because he just fought against Steppenwolf as the Apokoliptan general stole Atlantis’ Mother Box, or he always looked that way, is unclear.
Next, we have Vulko next to Amber Heard’s Mera and some Atlantean soldiers. I’m guessing they’re looking at a recently-entered Arthur Curry, but it’s hard to say.
Finally, we have Vulko and Aquaman together, confirming that in the Snyder Cut, it was the former who supplied the latter with the armor and quindent he’d wear for the rest of Justice League rather than Mera.
Zack Snyder also posted a fourth image showing Aquaman and Vulko talking within the same kind of car bubble that the former conversed with Mera in during the theatrical Justice League cut. Snyder elaborated on the decision to have the underwater dwellers talk within these bubbles on his Vero page, saying:
I invented that because I don’t like talking underwater. It makes no sense. I believe Atlanteans’ underwater language would be a series of clicks and squeaks, never got a chance to work it out.
Ultimately, like Barry Allen’s scene with Iris West, Vulko’s Justice League scenes were cut due to time constraints, leaving Mera as the main representative of Aquaman’s ties to Atlantis. While it doesn’t seem like he would have had a ton of screen time, it nonetheless would have been interesting to meet Vulko in Justice League, and then see him become an even bigger player in Aquaman.
That’s not the way the cards played out, but luckily for Willem Dafoe, he had plenty to do in Aquaman. We saw in flashbacks how Vulko trained the young Arthur Curry in combat and taught him about Atlantean culture, and in the present day, while publicly having to support King Orm, he set Arthur on the path to find Atlan’s trident, which would make Arthur Atlantis’ new ruler.
In the two years since Justice League’s release, Zack Snyder has shared numerous looks and tidbits of information about how his cut of the movie would have unfolded, while has helped drive the fan fervor for Warner Bros to make the Snyder Cut available to the masses. Despite Snyder Cut support reaching an all-time high earlier this month, there are still no plans for the studio to release it, so we’ll just have to suffice with Snyder supplying more pictures.
Willem Dafoe will likely reprise Vulko when Aquaman 2 swims into theaters on December 16, 2022. If you’re curious about what other DC movies are in the works, look through our handy guide.