A league of his own
Underwater wars and armoured sharks: does Aquaman represent a sea change for DC?
JAMES WAN ISN’T really treating Aquaman as a superhero movie. It has irrefutable comic-book roots, of course, but the film — the first solo outing for hairy, boozy, fish-whisperer Arthur
Curry, played by Jason Momoa — “has a fantasy approach to it,” the director tells Empire. “It shows you a part of Earth we’ve never seen before. That’s what enticed me to it: the opportunity to play on a big canvas.”
Judging by the first trailer, the canvas isn’t just big, it’s also drenched in bright, salty watercolours. Not only will the movie explore Curry’s backstory, it will also plunge headlong into the subaquatic realm that helped spawn him via his Atlantean queen mom Atlanna (Nicole Kidman). A realm now lorded over by his human-hating half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson), who wants to wipe out all us air-sucking landlubbers for dumping all that shit on his manor.
But it goes way beyond the phosphorescent mer-tropolis that is Atlantis. Not only do Arthur and the scarlet-tressed Mera (Amber Heard) head off on a Romancing The Stone-a-like, terra-firma-based treasure hunt for an ancient relic, they’ll also venture into other briny nations.
“There’s seven kingdoms in the underwater world,” Wan explains, “and in my movie we get the opportunity to explore them.” One of his favourites is the Kingdom Of The Trench, inhabited by “monstrous ancient ones of the deep” that enabled the Malaysian-born master of horror to indulge his passion for H.P. Lovecraft. But there’ll also be big-pincered crustaceans and green-gilled tritons joining in the bubbly fun. Not to mention trident-wielding warriors.
Who ride sharks.
Which all, as you’d expect, required Wan to deal with more visual effects than he’d ever had to wrangle before. Despite his preference for the practical, he had to concede that, when it came to handling Aquaman’s sea-fauna, it was an absolute necessity. As he reasonably points out, “you can’t put armour on sharks and ride them around”. Aquaman doesn’t feel much like a straightforward superhero adventure to its star, either. Which is probably just as well, given the reaction to the muddled, disappointing Justice League last year. “It’s a lot of fun,” Jason Momoa tells us of the new film, “and it’s something different [for the DCEU]. It’s like when Guardians Of The Galaxy came out, and they were up in space. There’s definitely going to be that Star Wars element where, just under the surface, there’s a whole world going to war — seven of them!” Sounds epic. Might be time for Batman to break out his shark repellent spray.
AQUAMAN IS IN CINEMAS FROM 26 DECEMBER
Main: Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Mera (Amber Heard) have an illuminating time in Atlantis. Here: Aquaman is slippery when wet.
Empire spoke to to the Aquaman cast and crew on dry land on 11 and 12 July 2017.