It took a whole lot of rumor-mongering and denial, but after a year of waiting, Warner Brothers and DC Comics officially cast Jason Momoa as Aquaman in their developing movieverse. Read that again: Jason Momoa is Aquaman. That’s pretty exciting, not just for Momoa’s fans but for Momoa himself, who has long been poised just on the verge of breaking out and transforming into a big movie star.
He’s had a few noteworthy roles throughout his career, of course, the most widely recognizable of them being Game of Thrones‘ Khal Drogo, a nobly savage Dothraki warlord and loving husband to Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen. But that part only carried Momoa for ten episodes; his accord with DC and Warner Bros., meanwhile, will last a good bit longer.
Momoa will debut as Aquaman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice before appearing in 2017’s Justice League – Part 1 and then 2018’s standalone Aquaman film. Quite a full plate, that; and in a recent Sundance interview with the fine folks at The Daily Beast, he shared his enthusiasm for the character of Aquaman as well as the hard work he had to put in to secure his casting.
Those two elements meet somewhere in the middle; Momoa sees his Hawaiian heritage as being an integral component of playing Aquaman, while tacitly acknowledging Hollywood’s issues with race. Here’s the quote from Momoa:
“A lot of things are very black and white. Aquaman is especially cool because being a Kanaka Maoli—being Hawaiian—our Gods are Kanaloa and Maui, and the Earth is 71 percent water, so I get to represent that. And I’m someone who gets to represent all the islanders, not some blond-haired superhero. It’s cool that there’s a brown-skinned superhero.”
It goes without saying that there have been other brown-skinned superheroes in the past; Wesley Snipes played the fearless vampire killer of Blade, Halle Berry has portrayed Storm in multiple X-Men films, Michael Clarke Duncan tried to makeover his huggy bear image in Daredevil, and most recently Anthony Mackie took to the skies in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. (And don’t forget, Michael B. Jordan will play the Human Torch in Josh Trank’s The Fantastic Four!)
But Momoa’s comments still resonate with truth, even if he relies more on allusion than direct commentary about his experiences coming up through Hollywood. There’s still a wide diversity gap in the entertainment biz at large and in the superhero niche specifically, even today. There may be roles for minority performers in these sorts of movies, but they’re both few and far between and also typically supporting roles rather than leading roles.
It’s true that there’s a Black Panther film (starring Chadwick Boseman!) coming down the pipeline, and in the meantime movies like X-Men: Days of Future Past and Guardians of the Galaxy arguably help allay the genre’s overarching homogeneity, if only slightly. That’s one reason why a Hawaiian Aquaman is a good thing; while the King of the Seven Seas will be introduced in one of those aforementioned supporting roles in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the fact that he already has his own film on the books is significant (because diversity of films is just as important as diversity in films).
And, just like his future Justice League colleague Ezra Miller, Momoa is happy to have a long-term role that his family can actually enjoy:
“It’s awesome as an actor to know what your future is going to be because I have children and I’ve busted my ass to put food on the table… It’s awesome knowing that I’m going to be in Justice League because my son is the biggest Batman fan and my daughter loves Wonder Woman. It’ll be cool for them to see me in something because they’re not going to be watching Game of Thrones or Red Road anytime soon, but now they can see Daddy kicking ass in IMAX.”
Momoa is obviously passionate about Aquaman; the personal connection he sees between his and the character’s respective heritages is inspiring, which in turn could make his performance in Warner Bros.’ films all the more compelling. That alone should justify his hiring, but seeing more minority superheroes on the big screen is an equally big deal, too.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice reaches theaters May 6, 2016. Aquaman is scheduled for release on July 27, 2018.
Source: The Daily Beast