Although radically different from the Arthur Curry fans have come to know, Aquaman first made a splash in More Fun Comics #73. He was created in 1941 by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris. Arthur has evolved quite a bit since then, but has always had a bit of a problem being taken seriously, due in large part to his Super Friends appearances. Don’t get us wrong, the King of the Seven Seas has his fair share of admirers, but despite multiple image overhauls over the years, Aquaman remains the butt of many jokes.
Aquaman fans will tell you that there is so much more to Arthur Curry than just a guy who can talk to fish. Like most superheroes, how you feel about the Aquatic Ace is contingent on what you’ve read, and while there are several excellent Aquaman runs, many writers haven’t really known how to utilize the character. If one looks past some of the goofier aspects of Arthur, which could be found in abundance with all superheroes (especially during the Silver Age), Aquaman is actually incredibly impressive. Briefly introduced into the DCEU in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice back in 2016, Jason Momoa’s version of Aquaman was greatly expanded upon in Justice League the next year. While neither film was particularly well received, many viewers were impressed with Momoa’s portrayal of the iconic character. Here are the 20 Strangest Things About Aquaman’s Anatomy.
20 He is half Atlantean
Like many heroes who’ve been around for decades, Aquaman has had more than one backstory change over the years. Arthur’s Silver Age origin made him the son of a lighthouse keeper named Tom Curry and an exiled Queen of Atlantis named Atlanna. Due to his Atlantean physiology, Arthur was able to breathe underwater, as well as withstand the tremendous physical pressures of life in the deep ocean. He could also survive indefinitely in water and his royal lineage made him even more powerful than a typical Atlantean.
Aquaman’s origin was altered again post Crisis on Infinite Earths. Born Orin, he was a product of the union between Atlanna and a wizard named Atlan (no one strained too many muscles coming up with these names). However, the New 52 largely returned the King of the Seven Seas to his Silver Age roots.
19 He can telepathically communicate with sea life
Despite the fact that Aquaman has spent decades being mocked over this ability, it’s actually a pretty impressive and useful power. Perhaps communicating with sea life seems unimportant to us land dwellers, but it has come in quite handy for Arthur, and this ability has evolved quite a bit since Aquaman’s debut.
Early on, Arthur could speak to fish in their own language, but this was eventually changed to telepathic communication. More about encouragement than actual control, Arthur was able to summon marine life from great distances, even compelling animals that don’t actually live underwater, such as sea eagles. The New 52 chose to majorly downplay this power, possibly in an effort to make readers take Aquaman more seriously. Recognizing that fish don’t have the necessary intelligence for actual conversation, the reboot explained that Arthur simply used the power of suggestion.
18 Sometimes he can fly
This ability hasn’t been explored all that much, but sometimes, the Aquatic Ace is actually capable of taking flight. It may seem strange, considering his affinity for the water, but the Trident of Poseidon gifted Aquaman with several new powers, one of which was unaided flight. Despite this revelation, Arthur still hasn’t done all that much flying; to be fair, though, the guy spends most of his time in the sea.
Aquaman is also capable of leaping great distances both on land and from the water. Sometimes, this can actually give off the appearance that Arthur is flying. Interestingly, DC’s most famous flyer, Superman, couldn’t fly at the time of his creation. Instead, the Man of Steel was simply “able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”
17 He had a harpoon hook for a hand
Aquaman has gotten more than one makeover throughout the years, but one of his biggest revamps happened in 1994 thanks to Peter David and Martin Egeland. The King of the Seven Seas was not only sporting a very different look, but his stories also became markedly darker. Now going by Orin, he grew out his hair and beard, got a major wardrobe change, and also lost his left hand.
The villainous Charybdis stole Aquaman’s powers and forced the hero’s hand into a pool full of piranhas. However, this wasn’t the Aquaman of years past and Orin chose to attach a harpoon hook in place of his lost appendage. It was eventually destroyed and replaced with a cybernetic prosthetic. Around this time, Orin also decided that shirts were optional.
16 He also had a hand made of water
A harpoon hook wasn’t the only way that writers got creative with Orin’s lost hand. In the early 2000s, Rick Veitch took his new series in a more mystical direction. Aquaman was granted a magical new appendage by the Lady of the Lake and the Waterbearer Hand made Orin more powerful than ever before, giving him a host of incredible new abilities.
Orin could take a life instantly by dehydrating someone with a single touch. He could also shoot hot or cold water from his hands, heal people, and open portals into other dimensions. Orin was even capable of transforming the hand itself, changing its shape and density at will. He could also forge it into weaponry, such as a sword.
15 He is amphibious
The details of how long Aquaman can survive on land have been reimagined several times throughout the years. Regardless of how much time Arthur needs to spend in the sea during any given decade, he has always been able to survive both in and out of the water. As previously discussed, his Atlantean physiology makes him perfectly equipped to exist in the ocean permanently.
Just as his royal lineage makes him stronger than the average Atlantean, it also enables him to survive on land much longer as well. The exact length of time is determined by the humidity in the atmosphere. The New 52 Aquaman was the first iteration who could survive indefinitely out of the water, as he grew up on land before learning of his true heritage; however, hostile environments still leave him vulnerable to dehydration.
14 He has enhanced senses
Aquaman’s enhanced senses can also be traced back to his Atlantean physiology. His sight enables him to see thousands of feet below the sea’s surface; in fact, his eyes have adapted so well to that darkness that Arthur has incredible night vision even while on land.
Arthur’s other senses are heightened as well: his hearing is incredibly acute both on land and in the water, with the latter enabling him to use echolocation much in the same way as whales or dolphins, and he can hear the slightest of sounds from many miles away, alerting him to danger much faster than a normal person. Underwater sounds come across garbled to us land dwellers, but not to Aquaman. His sense of smell is also far superior to our own and his reflexes are much sharper as well.
13 He has super strength
Arthur’s super strength also comes from his mother’s side of the family. He may not be quite at the level of Superman or Wonder Woman, but Aquaman is incredibly strong. The average Atlantean can lift several tons and it’s already been established that Arthur’s royal lineage makes him more powerful than the rest of his people. The guy once sealed up the trench by moving tectonic plates!
Aside from brute force, Arthur is also extra durable. He has an impressive resistance to both heat and energy attacks, having gone toe-to-toe with Amazo, OMAC, and Black Manta. His skin is especially thick and special weaponry is required to pierce it. Although Arthur is not invulnerable to gunfire, he’s not easily injured by it, either.
12 He lost his life
Losing one’s life is kind of a right of passage for superheroes. At this point, there are precious few who haven’t met their end and later been resurrected. Aquaman is no exception to this. We’ll spare you all the confusion of explaining the convoluted plot line involving The-Dweller-of-the-Depths – who was actually Orin after he lost his memories – and the second Aquaman, Joseph Arthur Curry. Instead, let’s just skip to the part where Orin’s life was taken by Narwhal.
Complicating matters even further was the fact that Mera believed Narwhal to be the reanimated body of Koryak, Orin’s son with an Inuit woman named Kako. See, we told you it was confusing.
11 He was resurrected as a Black Lantern
Blackest Night was a major DC event that saw the return of many formerly deceased characters. Aquaman’s body was reanimated, but like his fellow Black Lanterns, he was pretty much just an exceptionally dangerous zombie with only one desire: to extinguish all life. On the bright side though, his form was reconstructed with both hands, so at least Orin had that going for him.
Eventually, Aquaman was restored by the White Lantern Entity and reunited with his true love, Mera. The entire experience had an interesting side effect though. For a time, Orin could only call upon deceased sea life to come to his aid, but this ability didn’t last for too long because the New 52 began shortly after Brightest Day wrapped up, wiping out much of the storylines that had preceded it.
10 He is an expert in hand-to-hand combat
This is another area in which Arthur is frequently underestimated, but the King of the Seven Seas is actually an expert in hand-to-hand combat. Despite his reputation for being the Justice League’s weakest link, Aquaman is quite capable when it comes to fighting, both armed and unarmed. It certainly helps that he’s got enhanced senses, heightened reflexes, and super strength.
Arthur has not only been trained by Atlantean warriors, but also by The Dark Knight himself. Let’s also not forget that he is not only adept at battle on land, but in the sea as well, an arena that many of his opponents would not be comfortable in. This certainly gives him an advantage.
9 He can control water
Mera is usually the one most associated with hydrokinesis, but Arthur has had his fair share of impressive moments manipulating water as well. This is another ability that he has showcased to varying degrees. Aquaman’s power to control the sea, and to a degree, the weather, has been largely dependent on a given story arc.
At various points, Arthur has been able to call down lightning, generate tsunamis, or create and control tidal waves. Many of these powers began with his magical hand made of water, and therefore, disappeared when he was resurrected with both hands intact. However, the Trident of Poseidon granted him many similar abilities, along with some new ones like teleportation.
8 He can swim super fast
This one might seem like a given with a hero who goes by the name Aquaman. However, even for a guy who lives in the water, Arthur can swim incredibly fast. He is considered the fastest creature in the ocean, which is pretty impressive considering how quickly some marine life can get around.
Aquaman can swim at a constant rate of up to 150 mph for hours at a time, but if the situation calls for it, he can accelerate much faster than that. He may not have the same speed on land as the Flash or Superman, but it’s safe to say that the Aquatic Ace could outswim them both with no problem at all.
7 He Was completely turned into water
This is another ability that hasn’t seen a lot of use over the years, but Aquaman was at one point made entirely of water. During a “Just'a Lotta Animals” story known as “The Obsidian Age,” Zatanna used her magic on Arthur to help him save Atlantis. She transformed him into a living body of water who became known as The Water Wraith.
The Water Wraith’s impressive hydrokinesis made him almost god-like in terms of his powers, however, one unfortunate byproduct of this change was an alteration in Arthur’s personality. It turns out that near-divine powers can really go to a person’s head, and Aquaman wasn’t exactly acting like himself during this time. It’s probably for the best that this convoluted plot line didn’t last for too long.
6 He was combined with Namor to become Aqua-Mariner
Although it’s difficult to imagine now, considering the intense rivalry between Marvel and DC, there was a time in the mid-90s where the two publishing titans merged their characters in an imprint called Amalgam. This new universe introduced fans to heroes such as Dark Claw (Wolverine and Batman), Iron Lantern (Iron Man and Green Lantern), and Catsai (Elektra and Catwoman). Of course, the most logical Marvel character to combine with Aquaman was Namor, and the two merged to become Aqua-Mariner.
Namor and Aquaman already shared a fair amount in common and Aqua-Mariner was given a backstory that paid homage to both. His main weapon was an anchor tied to an impressively large chain.
5 Golden Age Aquaman was human
The heroes who’ve managed to endure since the Golden Age have changed a great deal in the years since their introduction. Superman couldn’t fly, Batman carried a gun (not to mention those purple gloves he was sporting), and Aquaman was a mere mortal. That is perhaps the weirdest difference, just because it meant that all of his impressive abilities were learned.
That’s right, Aquaman learned how to breathe underwater, communicate with fish, and grew strong enough to survive the deep ocean through “training and a hundred scientific secrets.” It’s a good thing that the Silver Age chose to reimagine Arthur’s roots, because that version might not have had quite the same amount of longevity as his half Atlantean backstory. The original version of the character was later established to be the Aquaman of Earth-2.
4 He lost a child
Aquaman has experienced a lot of loss throughout his long life, but nothing quite so tragic as the demise of his child. Shortly after his marriage to Mera, the two had a son, Arthur Jr., a.k.a Aquababy. Although Arthur has his fair share of enemies, Black Manta is probably his greatest foe, which is due in no small part to the fact that he took the life of Arthur’s son.
Black Manta captured Arthur Jr. and caused his demise by taking him out of the water. It was the pain of this unfathomable loss that ultimately tore Arthur and Mera apart. This was definitely one of the darker stories in DC Comics, especially during that time period.
3 He has been played by Three different actors
By now, everyone knows that Jason Momoa is portraying Aquaman in the DCEU. While his take on the character is undeniably unique, it seems to have resonated with many DC fans. Prior to this, the Aquatic Ace had a different live-action adaptation on Smallville, in which he was played by Alan Ritchson. The actor wasn’t super well received as Aquaman, but seems to have had more luck as Hawk in Titans.
What you may not know is that Arthur Curry almost had his own TV show. The pilot was shot with Justin Hartley (of This is Us) in the titular role. Although the series wasn’t picked up, the actor did go on to portray another Smallville DC hero: Green Arrow. He quickly became a fan favorite.
2 Silver Age Aquaman couldn’t survive out of the water
Aquaman has a very long history of needing water to survive. The amount of time he could remain out of the sea seemed dependent on who was writing the story, but it had definitely been established that Arthur could not live on land alone. This was particularly big during the Silver Age, when superhero weaknesses were quite common. Superman had his kryptonite, Green Lantern couldn’t win a fight against anything yellow (a fact that he appeared to forget every single issue), and Aquaman needed water every hour or so to survive.
As stated, this was used in varying degrees in the years that followed. Sometimes, Arthur could even subsist by absorbing humidity from the air, however, the New 52 did away with this weakness altogether.
1 There is a Looney Tunes version of him called Aquaduck
There was actually an entire Looney Tunes version of the Justice League called “Just'a Lotta Animals.” They were created in the ‘80s by Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw, and they existed on Earth-C-Minus. The group included Super Squirrel, the Batmouse, Wonder Wabbit, Green Lambkin, and the Crash. Of course, no JLA team would be complete without their own Aquatic Ace, so Aquaduck was also a member. It’s a good thing this team was written into existence as who else was going to defeat Dr. Hoot and Feline Faust?
This isn’t the only instance of a Looney Tunes duck getting involved in super-heroics. After a dry cleaning mix up with Hal Jordan, Daffy Duck wound up spending some time as Green Lantern. The famous fowl definitely did the mantle justice.
What do you think about these facts about Aquaman's anatomy? Let us know in the comments!