It was only a matter of time until the veil of secrecy surrounding James Wan’s Aquaman movie began to lift. With Jason Momoa locked in to bring the aquatic superhero to life, Amber Heard set as his leading lady, and pre-production on the Justice League follow-up under way, we now have a rough idea of the film’s overall story – or its villain, at least.
It’s now been reported that Patrick Wilson – long time collaborator with director Wan on both The Conjuring and Insidious franchises – has been attached to star as Aquaman’s villainous half-brother, Orm – a.k.a. Ocean Master.
The report comes courtesy of Deadline, revealing that both hero and villain of the movie were previously attached by director Zack Snyder. In Batman V Superman, Momoa made his cameo debut after Snyder himself helped develop the pitch for the DCEU Aquaman story, while Wilson also appeared as the voice of the President ordering the nuclear strike on Superman and Doomsday. We’re expecting this role to be a bit more substantial.
Although rumors had previously swirled about the inclusion of classic Aquaman villain Black Manta (one of the admittedly few well-known adversaries to the Atlantean King), Wan quickly issued a “no comment” response, wondering where that rumor had come from in the first place. And while it’s still possible that Black Manta may appear some day – perhaps even played by the actor rumored – it doesn’t look like the debut film will be that day. Because Orm is a movie-length storyline all to himself… and he casts a big shadow in the modern DC era.
For most likely scenario for the standalone film, especially given Ocean Master’s casting alongside Vulko (to be played by Willem Dafoe in Justice League), fans need only look to the New 52 relaunch of Arthur Curry a.k.a. Aquaman. Penned by now-DC Films boss Geoff Johns, the series began as a concerted effort to turn Aquaman – often a pop culture punchline – into one of the most respectable, fearsome heroes in the DC Universe. It worked (and then some), with Johns pitting Arthur against his half-brother Orm in an all-out war with the surface world and Justice League.
The story called upon the same key players now in place in the DCEU – Aquaman, Mera, Vulko, and Ocean Master – so the potential is present for James Wan to craft a “swashbuckling adventure” on a blockbuster scale – and maybe even pull a Justice League member or two in for a cameo, should the story stay true to the comics. But those assuming that Wilson’s villain will be portrayed as “evil” should probably pause. Not only would a purely evil villain be a break from the DCEU tradition so far, but conflicts between Atlantis and the surface world have just as often been manipulated or sparked by outside influences. Considering the larger forces at work in the Justice League universe and… well, Ocean Master may have his reasons to attack in order to protect the kingdom left to him by his half-brother.
For Wilson, it lands him a supervillain role in a shared comic book universe, having previously signed on for a similar part in Marvel’s Ant-Man – ultimately departing the project alongside director Edgar Wright. He’s no stranger to the DCEU’s creative leads, either. Aside from a long history with James Wan, Wilson also starred in Zack Snyder’s graphic novel adaptation Watchmen – a role and film that was, like Snyder’s DC films, criticized at the time (we suppose this also means he comes off our list of potential actors for the new Green Lantern. Damn).