5:45 pm EDT, June 22, 2018

‘Aquaman’: Everything we know so far

The Aquaman marketing push has finally begun! Here’s what we know so far about the big screen debut of the king of Atlantis.

Long maligned and the butt of endless jokes, it’s pretty easy to see why the king of Atlantis has never been pushed to make a big screen debut. However, that time is now over, with director James Wan and star superhero Jason Momoa working to bring the king of the seven seas out of tier three supeherodom and into the major leagues.

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To prepare us for his big screen debut, here’s everything we know so far!

The plot

It’s not a traditional origin story

Superhero debut films generally cover the familiar ground of the origin story, but everything we’ve heard about Aquaman points to a decidedly different kind of first time outing for Arthur Curry. Jason Momoa actually described the film as a “a combination of an origin, an epic battle, and a big road movie.”

So while we’ll certainly see elements of Aquaman’s origins, the movie is set after Justice League, which already offered us a glance at an Arthur Curry who was both aware of his abilities and the existence and expectations of Atlantis.

Likewise, even though we don’t have an official plot synopsis yet, we do know that the movie will begin with Mera showing up in Arthur Curry’s sleepy coastal town to warn him of an impending war between Atlantis and the surface world. Speaking of which…

It will feature a royal conflict between Arthur and his half-brother, Orm

Like Jason Momoa himself (and a major way Momoa has said he relates to his on-screen counterpart), Arthur Curry is a child of mixed heritage. His mother was the Atlantean Queen, while his father is a human/surface-dweller. While Arthur Curry is meant to be the actual king of Atlantis, his own right to the thrown will be challenged by his half brother Orm, who believes himself to be the far more deserving heir.

Orm, better known as Ocean Master to DC fans, has another major beef with Arthur Curry’s Aquaman, one that I’ll go more into in the last section.

It’ll be a sci-fi fantasy adventure story

Director James Wan described the movie as a swashbuckling adventure story in the vein of “Raiders of the Lost Ark meets Romancing the Stone.” Ludi Lin, who will be playing Murk in Aquaman has described the movie as “Star Wars underwater,” a sentiment likewise echoed by Aquaman himself, Jason Momoa.

Recent promotional photos also indicate a fair bit of high fantasy influence as well. Part of the mythology of Atlantis is that when it sank into the ocean, it split in seven kingdoms, with each of the kingdoms having distinct cultures of their own. We’ll get to see the Atlantean royal army riding great white sharks, the Xebel (a kingdom within Atlantis) army riding sea dragons and Orm himself riding a giant alligator-esque “tylosaur.”

It will feature flashbacks to Arthur’s childhood

Producer Charles Roven revealed that Aquaman will include flashbacks to when Atlantis was merely a myth rather than a thriving underwater empire. Likewise, the inclusion of Nicole Kidman as Arthur Curry’s mother Atlanna, plus the recently released promotional photo of her holding a baby Arthur Curry and the fact that younger versions of Arthur Curry have been cast, points to at least a few scenes of Arthur’s childhood and journey to finding out that he’s the King of Atlantis — or at least, meant to be.

We’ll know (and see!) more at San Diego Comic Con

James Wan officially announced that we’ll be seeing the very first trailer at San Diego Comic Con in July. I cannot wait!

The protagonists

Aquaman Jason Momoa Amber Heard

Arthur Curry, played by Jason Momoa

First seen as a brief clip in Batman vs. Superman and given a fair amount of screen time in Justice League, this December will finally give us a full-length film focusing on Jason Momoa’s Aquaman. Momoa described Aquaman as Arthur’s “call to become king,” and that we’ll see Arthur initially as a “kind of dirty ,dark, drunkard” who will then “turn into this regal king.”

Mera, played by Amber Heard

More than just a love interest for Aquaman, Mera is a warrior raised by the queen of Atlantis to one day take over as the queen. Her duty, first and foremost, is to the kingdom of Atlantis and her background as a warrior has made her very disciplined to the point of being militaristic. She also has the power of hydrokinesis, which means she can manipulate water and is just a badass all around.

Atlanna, played by Nicole Kidman

Atlanna is the former queen of Atlantis and mother to Arthur Curry. All signs point to her no longer being alive at the start of Aquaman, so it’s likely we’ll only see her in flashbacks to Arthur’s childhood.

There is, however, the possibility that the film takes a page out of comics continuity and actually has Atlanna fake her death so that she can found a refuge for individuals who are looking to either escape or remain hidden from Atlantis. With a big name like Nicole Kidman, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that was the route they ended up going.

The antagonists

King Nereus, played by Dolph Lundgren

There’s been a major shift in Xebel’s King Nereus character when he made his transition from comics to screen. In the comics, King Nereus was set to be betrothed to Mera and actually sent her to assassinate Arthur Curry — who she ended up falling in love with instead.

Luckily, Aquaman recognized that a love triangle within a movie with two villains and an impending war was a little much, and decided to make King Nereus Mera’s father instead of her potential love interest.

Still, while he does attempt to keep the peace down below, Lundgren describes his character arc as having to be “convinced by [his daughter] to join the right side,” so my prediction is that he isn’t exactly welcoming Arthur Curry with open arms either.

Orm/Ocean Maaster, played by Patrick Wilson

Described as the primary villain of Aquaman, Orm has a couple of chips on his shoulder when it comes to his half brother Arthur Curry. First, he believes himself to be the rightful ruler of Atlantis since he is full Atlantean. Secondly, he has an intense hatred of the surface and surface-dwellers for their treatment of the oceans for the past few centuries.

Patrick Wilson described Orm as a “kind of eco-warrior” with a “very clear gripe with the surface world, which has been polluting his oceans for centuries.” The main conflict of Aquaman will center around Mera and Arthur’s quest to stop Orm from declaring and carrying out war on these polluting surface-dwellers.

David Hyde/Black Manta, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

Black Manta is one of Aquaman’s biggest villains, so it’s no surprise that he’s included in the character’s big screen debut. While we don’t know too much about his role in the film, he’ll likely play a part in Ocean Master’s machinations.

In the world of DC comics, Manta has a sad bit of history with Aquaman as the son of a man mistakenly killed by Arthur Curry. Because of this, he has a personal vendetta against the King of Atlantis, swearing to avenge his father by killing the man responsible for his death. No word yet for if this is the backstory that will follow him into the Aquaman movie, so I can’t wait to learn more about him.

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