Thanks to the release of a brand new trailer, Justice League has claimed the spotlight in the industry’s DCEU coverage (and a new batch of fan theories). But as much as the team may technically be Batman‘s idea, the trailer’s most memorable moments and one-liners all support the idea that it’s Aquaman being set up as DC’s next big screen mascot. Thankfully, his movie villain is already doing his part to build up the rivalry for their own movie showdown… and the next-level villainy that the Aquaman film will bring to the DC movie universe.
Director Zack Snyder made it his mission during production on Batman V Superman to change the public perception of Aquaman, claiming that he was a “badass” whose famous trident was capable of making Superman himself bleed. We now know that even then, he had already cast Jason Momoa as Aquaman, having dreamed up a wilder, more medieval warrior story for Arthur Curry. The task of telling that tale now falls to director James Wan, who in turn chose his frequent collaborator, Patrick Wilson, to star opposite Momoa as the DC villain Ocean Master. And Wilson is already flexing his supervillain muscles.
Wilson’s tease follows hot on the heels of the previously mentioned Justice League trailer, a preview of the team-up film that at first glance didn’t give the slightest hint of its own ‘big bad.’ As we’ve pointed out, there is a hint of the villain Steppenwolf – fittingly, in combat with Aquaman, underwater – but nevertheless, some took the Parademon enemies as another case of superheroes doing battle with nameless, faceless hero fodder.
And when an editorial wondered why comic book enemies are so often faceless, expendable nobodies, Wilson couldn’t pass up his chance:
The demand for strong, compelling villains in blockbuster superhero movies is nothing new, so fans should be pleased to see Wilson voicing his confidence ahead of Aquaman (in the comics, the dynamic between Aquaman and Ocean Master holds plenty of story potential for sibling rivalry meets royal intrigue). Given the expected trip through Atlantean history in Justice League, it’s possible audiences may be in for an even more layered and complicated villain than General Zod, Lex Luthor, or even Steppenwolf’s mission to conquer Earth for his lord Darkseid.
Wilson’s playful response aside, it does seem a bit strange to single out Justice League for choosing not to spoil the appearance, plan, or casting of a villain that fans already know will be antagonizing the heroes. And while it’s entirely true that superhero movies like Justice League and Avengers throw hordes of faceless enemies at its mighty stars, that’s also true of… well, just about every epic, heroic story ever told. It’s kind of a necessity when being an action hero means being a murderer, too.
The Justice League fights Parademons, Han Solo fights stormtroopers, Indiana Jones fights Nazis, Aragorn and Legolas fight Orcs, and even Logan battles squads of mercenaries. The best fans of the genre can really hope for is that once the hero (or heroes) proves their greatness by vanquishing an army, the rival is worth the struggle. And as unlikely as it may seem, Aquaman seems the most likely Justice League member to find himself in a battle that can’t be won with his muscles or fighting skills. That’s thanks to his unique parentage, born of Atlantean royalty and a human man – an outcast in one world, and an outcast who is rightfully king in the other.
Yet the throne sits empty, leaving it to be filled with Arthur Curry’s half-brother, Orm. Depending on the comic book story, that’s in defiance of what is right, or the specific wishes of Arthur himself. The latter was the case with Geoff Johns’s New 52 Aquaman, so that would seem the most likely. And if the film follows the same path and pits Atlantis and its leader, Ocean Master (Orm’s villainous moniker) against the world of man, Wilson is right to promise something unique. In that tale, Atlantis and North America were pawns in a larger game… and in the DCEU, there’s no shortage of secretive manipulators established already.
So will Ocean Master be a villain, or a pawn? It’s too soon to tell, but we – like Wilson, obviously – hope he really is the hero of his own Aquaman story.
Source: Patrick Wilson