‘Aquaman’: 50 Things to Know about James Wan’s Ambitious Spin on a Superhero Movie

     July 28, 2018


Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Mera (Amber Heard) are on the hunt for an ancient artifact. As the two search the globe, they eventually end up in the desert, in a mysterious room below the surface. As they bicker about where they are and what they need to do, a mysterious opening in the floor slides to the left to reveal a bottle with a message inside. A moment later, director James Wan calls cut.

After Wan, Momoa and Heard talk about what they’ve been filming and how they need to tweak the sequence, the two stars go back to carry on the scene. As it continues, the mysterious opening actually reveals an audio message, and it’s a lot of important information about what they need to do. As the message ends, Mera asks Aquaman about the message and what it means. Awkwardly, Aquaman can only remember a few words and plays it off like it wasn’t important. Thankfully, Mera was paying attention and starts to quote back the message with frustration in her voice because of Aquaman’s attitude. Again, Wan calls cut.

Before going any further, let me back up a second.


Image via Warner Bros.

Last year, right after Comic-Con, a few other online reporters and I got to travel to the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia, to visit the set of Aquaman when the film was in the middle of shooting. While there I learned so much about the next DC superhero movie, and I can say with absolute certainty Aquaman is going to be a cool film.

Unlike some of the previous DC films, James Wan is making his version of a superhero movie, which includes a fun tone (think Romancing the Stone and Raiders of the Lost Ark) and taking place in a lighter universe. Now before you start to think Wan is leaving his horror past behind, Aquaman is going to have a sequence or two that will creep you out. In addition, while looking at all the concept art and seeing how they are bringing Atlantis to life, I left the visit thinking they were doing everything right, and I’m beyond excited to see the finished film.

Over the course of walking around, doing group interviews, and just talking with people on set, I learned a ton about the movie and have listed off about fifty things to know about the film. Check it all out below.

Aquaman also stars Willem Dafoe as Vulko, Temuera Morrison as Tom Curry, Dolph Lundgren as Nereus, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta, Patrick Wilson as Orm/Ocean Master, and Nicole Kidman as Atlanna.


Image via Warner Bros.

If you’re trying to stay completely spoiler-free, you might not want to read these ahead.

  • Aquaman takes place after the events of Justice League and is a stand-alone movie.
  • Two thirds of the movie takes place underwater.
  • The production is trying to be extremely faithful to the comics.
  • Everyone on set talked about how Aquaman is a “less dark” DC film.
  • James Wan wanted to make a superhero movie with a character no one has seen before. He was offered any DC character and specifically wanted to make Aquaman.
  • When Warner Bros. and DC gave Wan Aquaman, he said he was only interested in doing it if he could make it the way he wanted to make it and that it needed to be a departure from what DC had done before. He envisioned Aquaman as a Raiders of the Lost Ark and Romancing the Stone type movie where you would have great characters, real jeopardy, and great elements of comedy between Arthur and Mera.
  • When they were making Justice League, the production spoke to James Wan about what he wanted to reveal in Aquaman. That’s why Atlantis was never seen before Aquaman. Also, when they did reshoots on Justice League, they constantly spoke to Wan to make sure everyone was on the same page and the things that were important to Wan were always protected.
  • When Aquaman begins we will find Arthur Curry still being the loner, but as he goes on a journey with Mera (they’re searching for something very important), he learns the need to build bridges instead of pushing people away.
  • The film will have flashbacks throughout the film to explain who Aquaman is, how his parents met, and why the Atlanteans won’t allow his mom to stay on land. One of the flashbacks takes place at the Boston Aquarium.
  • jason-momoa-aquaman-movie

    Image via Warner Bros.

    Producer Peter Safran revealed the new 52 comic series of Aquaman heavily influenced the movie. He said, “The new 52 version of Aquaman was definitely our touchstone and our starting point. And even though the film is not a direct adaptation of that, that was certainly the…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, like the Trench. So, that was our biggest influence.”

  • Mera (Amber Heard) has the power of hydrokinesis – which means she can control water. This power will come in handy at many points in the film. Her father is the Xebellian king.
  • Producer Peter Safran says that while Orm (Aquaman’s brother played by Patrick Wilson) is the primary antagonist, Black Manta is a very strong secondary antagonist.
  • The main reason Orm hates the people on land and breaks the treaty with humans is due to the way the human race has treated the planet. Orm isn’t someone that wants to rule the world. He’s just sick of human’s taking all the fossil fuels, putting acid raid in the ocean, and not taking care of the planet.
  • In the beginning of the film, Black Manta and his father are pirates.
  • Black Manta will have a connection to Orm that helps make him a more integral part of the story. Safran said, “We do show how Manta that we see in the comic books, became that character.”
  • aquaman-nicole-kidman-image

    Image via Warner Bros.

    James Wan had been using Nicole Kidman’s face in the concept art as Aquaman’s mom before he’d met with her about the film or even asked her to be in the movie. From the beginning he envisioned her in the role. When the production reached out to her about being in the film she immediately responded to the script and artwork and signed on.

  • Producer Peter Safran revealed that Wan will get to use his horror sensibilities in Aquaman. He told us the trench sequence, “Is his homage to Creature From The Black Lagoon type scary movies and that whole sequence is classic James Wan from the way characters are revealed. The way the creatures are revealed. To the actual action that goes into that entire sequence. And that’ll be a signature James Wan scary sequence.”
  • Over the course of the film, Aquaman learns he shouldn’t blame all of Atlantis for the killing of his mother by one person, and Mera learns the surface world is a place that’s really worth preserving and they need to find a way to coexist.

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