The embargo has lifted on set visits for Aquaman, meaning audiences have just learned a lot about the next DC blockbuster. The marketing push for Aquaman is only just beginning, with Warner Bros. already confirming that the trailer will drop at this year’s SDCC panel.
Although Aquaman was properly introduced by last year’s Justice League, that only offered audiences a small taste of the grandeur and beauty of DC’s Atlantis. Since then, there have only been teases of what director James Wan has cooked up, with a handful of images providing a window into the wonderful world under the sea. Now, at last, viewers have a taste of what’s going on – and it’s definitely not fishy.
Here, we’ve collected all the top scoops from the set visit (which includes outlets IGN, Collider, and JoBlo. These stories have unlocked countless details, revealing aspects of the film’s plot and character dynamics, its style and aesthetics – and perhaps even more.
This Page: The Story and Character Arcs of AquamanPage 2: Aquaman’s Action Sequences and the Comic Book Inspiration
Aquaman’s Origin Story
Although Aquaman is set after the events of Justice League, it’s essentially an origin story. The film will focus mainly on the present-day Arthur Curry, but flashbacks will detail three other stages of his life – including an entertaining scene in which young Arthur learns he can talk to fish. As producer Peter Safran said to IGN:
“[The film] starts in the ’80s when Tom rescues Atlanna from the beach. She washes up on a rocky cove, is injured and wounded, and he nurses her back to health. You know, their love story, and they end up with Arthur. That cuts to the present day, and so then we live the rest of the movie in the present day with one or two small flashbacks to different points in Arthur’s youth.”
Amusingly enough, Wan had been using Nicole Kidman’s face in concept art as Atlanna before he even met with her about the film. She signed on as soon as she read the script, which will see Atlanna forced to leave her son in the face of prejudice from her own people. She’ll leave behind a legacy – her quindent, the weapon Aquaman used in Justice League. The film’s plot will see Aquaman learn to forgive Atlantis for the death of his mother, while Mera will come to understand that the surface world should be preserved, and that she should pursue peace. By the end of the film, both Jason Momoa and James Wan teased that Aquaman would don his classic costume.
Ocean Master and the Plot of Aquaman
The main villain is Patrick Wilson’s Ocean Master, who seeks to unite the tribes of Atlantis in opposition to humanity. Aquaman’s half-brother, Orm blames humanity for acts of pollution that are destroying life in the oceans. He’s come to believe that the only way to save Atlantis is to wipe humanity out once and for all. Aquaman and Ocean Master will find themselves competing to recover King Atlan’s Trident, possession of which makes the bearer king of Atlantis – and grants tremendous power. “It’s like the Excalibur story,” production designer Bill Brzeski explained. “You got Excalibur, you can run the knights of the roundtable. Well, it’s the same thing here. With this trident, he can now talk to all the animals.”
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Black Manta is a secondary villain, set up for future appearances in the DCEU; the actor is already signed up on a multi-film contract. Orm will give Black Manta his technology and weapons, designed to kill Aquaman. Incredibly, an entire Italian villa was created for one action sequence between Aquaman, Mera, and Black Manta. As Safran explained to JoBlo, “There is a connection between Orm and Manta that will be revealed that that helps make him a more integral part of the story.”
The Relationship Between Aquaman and Mera
Amber Heard’s Mera will be an important figure in the plot, and the relationship between Arthur and Mera – more an alliance than a love story – will be an entertaining one. “There’s a power struggle for them from the beginning,” Heard told IGN, pointing out that Mera is used to being the one in charge. “It creates this really nice banter and great humour. You can see the relationship evolves when she actually does make it to the surface.” Mera will be a powerful warrior in her own right, a hydrokinetic who can manipulate water at will.
Although Mera comes to Arthur Curry for help, it takes Orm hitting Amnesty Bay with a tidal wave – almost killing Aquaman’s father – for him to agree to come with her. From that point on, the film treats the two as equals. When Mera is on the surface, she is an alien in a strange world, with Aquaman serving as her guide. Beneath the waves, though, it is Arthur Curry who is visitor to a world he cannot imagine, thoroughly dependent upon Mera’s guidance.
Unite the Seven
When Jason Momoa’s Aquaman was first unveiled as part of the marketing for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it was accompanied with a strange tagline, “Unite the Seven.” This led many DC fans to believe there’d be additional members of the Justice League, but in actuality, it was a reference to the seven tribes of Atlantis. Orm will attempt to unite these tribes under his rule, in opposition to humanity; Aquaman is striving to oppose him, by becoming king himself. The tribes are:
The Atlanteans themselves, a physically powerful race who are just below the DCEU’s Superman in terms of their raw power-level. Along with the Xebellians, the Atlanteans are one of the two races who can actually breathe air.The pacifistic, nature-loving Fisherman Kingdom. One scene, the “Battle of the Brine,” will see Orm’s army launch a full-scale attack on the Fisherman Kingdom in order to subjugate them.The Brine, four-legged crustaceans who live on the bottom of the ocean.The Trench people, who Collider compare to “the mole people of the sea.” This race live 8,000 feet below the water, in the depths of the Marianas Trench. Their bodies have uniquely evolved to suit this environment, and they don’t have eyes. The Trench people only come out at night, and live so deep that the water pressure hurts Atlanteans. They seem to be principal enemies in the film, with one scene featuring the Trench people swarming over a boat, wanting to kill and eat everybody aboard.The Xebellians, who are ruled by Mera’s father.The missing kingdom.There is a seventh kingdom, but Warner Bros. chose not to reveal that one as part of the set visit.
According to JoBlo, Atlantis is “massive, sprawling, vibrant and awe-inspiring.” They describe the city as “an underwater metropolis… unlike anything we’ve ever seen before on the big screen.” The Kingdom of Atlantis is envisioned as the size of Los Angeles, with some fifty million people living there. Journalists were treated to a glimpse of the War Room set, which gave them a sense of the film’s epic scale. It’s essentially an office with a large table in the middle for meetings, with artwork decorating the walls that shows all the creatures of the Seven Seas – from the Trench to Atlantis. The design is ripped straight from Geoff Johns’s “New 52” run.
Expect a Lot of Action Sequences
According to IGN, Aquaman has a lot of action sequences. “There’s probably eighteen fight sequences in this film,” weapons coordinator Richard Mandfield noted. “They’re superheroes, they’re bashing each other, throwing each other through walls. They’re weaponized.” Expect a wide range of weapons, from traditional tridents to hydro-pulse rifles that can shoot powerful blasts of water. The action will mostly be restricted to the families, with production designer Bill Brzeski describing a couple of so-called “warning shots, tidal waves and things like that. But for the most part. It’s mostly an inter-family battle.” One particularly exciting action sequence will see Aquaman and Ocean Master duel in front of an active volcano.
The Tone and Style of Aquaman
Aquaman is expected to be a little lighter than the Zack Snyder films, and is consistently described as an epic adventure in the vein of Raiders of the Lost Ark, with an element of Romancing the Stone thrown in for good measure.
James Wan was offered any DC character, and specifically chose Aquaman. Additionally, it sounds as though Wan has been given a great deal of directorial freedom; he was only interested in signing up if he was allowed to do his own thing. Indeed, the production team for Justice League worked closely with Wan in order to ensure they didn’t detract from Aquaman (that’s actually why viewers never got a glimpse of Atlantis in Justice League).
Wan’s trademark horror style will be visible in the film at points, particularly in the Trench sequence. Producer Peter Safran described this as a homage to Creature from the Black Lagoon, saying it’s “a signature James Wan scary sequence.”
With two-thirds of the movie taking place underwater, Safran was excited that the film should have a unique style. “Our action sequences I think are pretty unique,” he observed, “and James has always tried to craft things that people have not seen before and also to service the characters in a really good fashion.”
The Comic Book Origins of Aquaman
The film is working hard to honor the original comics, with a particular focus on Geoff Johns’s classic “New 52” run. Safran told Joblo that “the new 52 version of Aquaman was definitely our touchstone and our starting point.” As he explained:
“And even though the film is not a direct adaptation of that, that was certainly the-y’know, in terms of his origin, who he is, that Tom Curry is his father and Atlanna is his mother, who Orm is, etc. That all comes from the new 52. And, there are certainly creature elements from it, from the Trench. So, that was our biggest influence.”
Read more: screenrant.com