Aquaman Can Breathe Underwater For One Disgusting Reason

The Aquaman movie's director explains why Atlanteans vomit to survive out of the water - and we explain the actual science behind it.

Warning: Minor SPOILERS for Aquaman

If comic book nuts were hoping the Aquaman movie would explain his ability to breathe both on land and underwater, we've got good news and bad news. The explanation is a simple one... but more disgusting than Aquaman fans expected.

Screen Rant got to join director James Wan in the Aquaman editing bay, and see firsthand how the biology of a water-breather would be solved. The first hurdle is easy enough to explain: Yes, Atlanteans like Aquaman are equipped to breathe water just as easily as air. But the only thing weirder than the unexpected, wondrously gross side effect... is the fact that the science behind underwater breathing is totally true.

Aquaman fans, get ready for water-vomit.

Aquaman Can Breathe Water, Thanks to "Vomit"

Before we get to explaining why human beings can already "breathe" liquid like air, it should go without saying that if you're exploring the science of Aquaman, you're willing to suspend some disbelief. But rather than write off the nuances of an underwater civilization, which they probably could, Wan's team has come up with some surprisingly detailed ways of using the habitat to their benefit. Yes, Aquaman's underwater scenes have changed since Justice League - but the best detail we caught was when Atlantean shifted from breathing one substance to the other.

RELATED: New Aquaman Scene Descriptions & Plot Details

When Arthur's human father discovered Queen Atlanna washed up in a massive storm, as is shown in the first Aquaman trailer, it wasn't shocking to see her regain consciousness, and expel two lungs' worth of water before passing out once more. But when our preview of the Arthur/Orm fight showed Mera suddenly surrounding the villain with a bubble of air, and him also vomiting out a stream of seawater, we had to ask Wan the pressing question. What's the deal with this Atlantean water-vomit?

People would ask me, you know, 'So when they talk, is it bubbles that come out of their mouth?' And I'm like, 'No because there's no air in your lungs, so there wouldn't be any bubbles.' Right? So then in that sequence where you saw Mera open up this air pocket... when [Orm] lands in that, he's breathing air. The first thing he does is, he's in an air pocket, so he'd puke out all the water that's in his lungs. So that's the first step. We think about all these little details and stuff like that. And then when he's screaming [when the water returns], we want bubbles coming out of his mouth because now there's actually air in his lungs.

The question we didn't get an answer to is whether every shot of Jason Momoa or Amber Heard, majestically exiting the surf on a sun-drenched beach, would be cut short by the need for them to hunch over and heave up the water preventing their lungs from intaking and expelling air. We're going to assume the movie will either ignore that reality, or offer a quick excuse (hopefully after Arthur's origin story allows for at least one fantasy-busting aqua-barfing).

So, as we alluded to above, is Aquaman's ability to breathe saltwater just as easily as air total comic book fantasy, which the movie will similarly take as a given? Or is it based in actual science, and explained away thanks to the way Atlanteans in the DCEU evolved? Well, no sense in keeping the suspense: Yes, breathing water is scientifically sound for everyday humans already - but Aquaman has an edge.

Page 2 of 2: The REAL Science Behind Breathing Underwater

Key Release Dates
  • Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
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