Hollywood’s newest superhero has a surprising swagger, writes Neala Johnson
Meet the man who plays the rock ’n’ roll super hero
Batman is the brooding billionaire, Superman the boy scout and Wonder Woman the feminist warrior. Aquaman, meanwhile, is the rock’n’roll superhero we didn’t know we needed.
Years after Game Of Thrones star Jason Momoa was cast to play the ruler of the seven seas, Aquaman finally swaggers on to the screen in Justice League, wild-haired, totally tattooed and not about to break out of his exile for anyone — Batman included.
That rock’n’roll vibe, says Momoa, is no accident.
“I’m not gonna lie to you, Slash is definitely my spirit animal. So there’s a big influence of Slash in Aquaman.
“He’s a loner, so the arrogance and the rock’n’roll ‘f ... you’, that whole gruff thing, is just a cover-up.”
If Aquaman is the Guns N’ Roses guitarist, Justice League is the opening riff of Sweet Child O’ Mine — a tantalising first glimpse of something much bigger; that being Momoa’s headline DC movie, Aquaman.
Directed by Australian James Wan, the solo outing will flesh out the underwater world of Atlantis and the backstory that is only hinted at briefly as Arthur Curry is recruited to join Batman’s super-powered team in Justice League.
Aquaman wrapped principal photography on the Gold Coast just two weeks ago and is due in cinemas on Boxing Day 2018.
“When people are done watching Justice League, they’re going to want to see his world,” says Momoa. “I just want audiences to go, ‘Woah, why is he like this?’ He’s got a blue collar, he’s got a bit of a grudge, he’s got a chip on his shoulder. ‘Why is he living out on the fringe of society?’
“What James is building, the origin story, is amazing. You get to see before he was born, his parents ... and also get to see him grow up and not be such an ass.
“This reluctant king will eventually become Aquaman, he will eventually become the king of the seven seas and unite the kingdoms. It’s a really cool journey.
“And it’s an amazing world; we go to outer space, but we’ve never been under the ocean to this extent.”
Before moviegoers can take that deep dive, it’s up to Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne to put the band together in Justice League — corralling nascent heroes including The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to join him and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in fighting off a powerful threat.
Wayne finds Curry living off the map in an Icelandic fishing village, where he helps the villagers who shield his super identity. Even Batman is going to have a tough time convincing this guy to play nicely with others.
“Aquaman’s not afraid of Batman at all,” Momoa says. “He’s not a rich guy, but he’s a strong man. For Batman, it’s brave and a little bit stupid to come and try to pull me out.”
Even when he does join the battle, Aquaman remains a pot-stirrer.
“The whole time he’s the devil’s advocate — you’ve gotta add that level of questioning and doubt to what we’re doing and our intentions, that’s what’s going to give it drama,” Momoa says.
While teamwork might be a hard sell for Aquaman, Momoa can’t speak highly enough of his Justice League colleagues. “It’s maybe boring to say, but it was truly like family,” he says. “I probably have more problems in my own family. Gal is amazing, such a queen. Ben, it was great to pick his brain as an actor and director. Ray, we worked out every day together. Ezra I’ve known since he was 14 so he’s like my little brother.”
As DC fans know all too well, Justice League has been a long time coming. Momoa, a lifelong Batman fan, says the first day the team were finally united on set in their superhero costumes was one to remember. “I found myself fan-boying out. You walk around
Ben’s cape ... I was tripping out. You can’t believe you are what you are, then you’re looking across and there’s Batman and there’s Wonder Woman. It’s so surreal.”
Born in Honolulu to a Hawaiian father and mother of German and Irish ancestry, Momoa, 38, is proud to be a rare “brown-skinned superhero”, and of the diversity underneath the other Justice League costumes: Gadot is Israeli, Miller Jewish and Fisher African-American.
Momoa’s kids are just as pumped. He has two children with Lisa Bonet (they wed last month after 12 years together): Lola, 10, and Nakoa-Wolf, almost nine. After seeing Justice League with their dad, “they wanted to see it again and again and again and again,” he reports with a laugh.
“It’s pretty cute. Wolfie, my son, is all about Batman and Lola’s all about Wonder Woman.” The kids were regular visitors to set, too.
Lola would beam when she got to borrow Wonder Woman’s tiara — “Gal’s a sweetheart, she definitely looked after my daughter” — while Affleck let Wolfie try on Batman’s cowl.
The kids also spent plenty of time in Australia this year, joining their father in a country he knows well: Momoa spent several years in the mid-’00s living and travelling here while engaged to McLeod’s Daughters actress Simmone Mackinnon. After a gruelling six months on Aquaman, he’s still up for more.
“I had a ball. I loved your country,” he says. “And the studios up there are unbelievable. I wanna shoot more movies there.”
“I’m not gonna lie to you,
Slash is definitely my spirit animal
Jason Momoa will fully unleash Aquaman in 2018.
Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Ray Fisher and Henry Cavill
on the London red carpet last week.
Miller) and C yborg Woman ( Gal Gadot), The Flash (Ezra Aquaman ( (Jason Jason Momoa), W onder
tice League. threat against world peace in Jus (Ray Fisher) take on a po werful new