With all the excitement surrounding the upcoming [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice](tag:711870) and the new characters who'll be introduced, we take a look at the backstory of a critical character who is perhaps lesser known in the public imagination than the likes of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.
Who is Aquaman?
Aquaman has had a few tweaks to his character throughout the Golden and Silver ages of DC comics, with supporting characters and the definition of his powers altering through the years. He's also had a few different origin stories, but according to the most recent (New 52) continuity, which the DC Cinematic Universe is more or less keeping in line with, Aquaman is the half-human, half-Atlantean son of lighthouse keeper Tom Curry and Atlanna - an water-breathing outcast citizen of Atlantis, from whose blood he gains his powers.
He gave himself the name Aquaman when he took up the superhero mantle as an adult, and in some continuities is also referred to as Orin (his Modern Age Atlantean name). In most iterations he eventually becomes King of Atlantis, and rules the Seven Seas. He has an envious, half-brother called Orm who grew to become his nemesis - Ocean Master - and is the King of Atlantis prior to Aquaman in the New 52.
His powers include:
- breathing underwater
- affecting the electrical impulses in the brains of sea creatures to exert a degree of control over them
- incredibly fast and strong swimmer (up to 3,000 m/s)
- superhuman durability and strength
- the ability to see in the darkness
- sonar-like hearing
He also possesses the Trident - an indestructible melee weapon which can manipulate water and energy, one of seven magical items made by the first King of Atlantis.
What's his connection to the Justice League?
As you might have gathered from the promo materials, Aquaman is a central member of the Justice League and one of its founders alongside Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash and Martian Manhunter (who was later reconnected and replaced by Cyborg). He's been there since the team was first envisioned in the 1960s and took part in most of their adventures during the Silver Age. This has been carried over into the New 52 continuity, where he leaves his position as King of Atlantis in order to focus more on his superheroics, despite lack of public recognition next to his teammates.
The New 52 Justice League initially get together when the individual members are attacked by Parademons, troops of famous DC villain Darkseid. Batman, Green Lantern, Superman, Flash and Wonder Woman battle a released army of the demons, ending up near the sea where Aquaman emerges having been experiencing his own problems with the little monsters. Initially he gets mocked by Green Lantern, but he shuts the hell up when Aquaman demonstrates his control of a goddamn shark.
The Parademons indirectly cause an explosion which leads to Vic Stone's estranged father turning him into Cyborg to save his life. Cyborg escapes the laboratory and joins up with the team then - uh oh - Darkseid shows up to invade Earth. At first it looks like they're screwed, but then Batman does some Batman-ing and convinces them that they need to work together. Which they do, finally overcoming Darkseid and saving the world, and the Justice League is born. Wooh.
Rather than going the way of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and introducing heroes in solo films before bringing them together as a team, DC seem to be going about it a very different way. The Aquaman solo movie isn't due to be released until 2018, one year after Justice League Part One which Momoa has confirmed he'll be appearing in as well as in the upcoming Batman v Superman (and he may have even been in the trailer for that...)
This means that Aquaman's solo venture may build on the events of the Justice League film rather than it being the other way round, which could be a very good thing - keeping the superhero movie format from getting a bit too stale.
"I know about as much as you guys know. I know the Justice League will come first. That’s really what we’re going to focus on. I’m not sure if it will be [set] prior to Justice League, or post. I don’t know too much about it. It will probably be where he came from. It will probably be his whole origin story I would think." - Jason Momoa
Though initially portrayed as a clean-cut blonde dude, Aquaman got a more rugged reinvention in the 90s which looks more like the promo image we've seen of Momoa. During this time he had long hair and beard, but also lost his left hand to piranhas in a battle with Charybdis. Ouch.
It's not all bad though, as he then attaches a harpoon to his arm instead, and generally gets a bit dark and unhinged. He also chucks his trademark orange shirt and goes bare chested in a gladiator style outfit for a while, which fits about right with what we've seen of Momoa so far.