A hero, a king, a man with a temper who can talk to fish-- he’s been the butt of jokes on sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory for years. Aquaman has had plenty of ups and downs in comics since his 1941 debut, but he’s remained one of the most recognizable names in pop culture.
When he debuted in the More Fun Comics anthology series, it was as a backup feature. His popularity meant that within the next decade he was ushering in the Silver Age and leading his own solo series. As a founding member of the Justice League, he was a fan favorite in his early years. It was only later that his popularity waned, as characters around him became more powerful (and more popular).
As a result, Aquaman has been through a lot of retcons over the years, and he’s become a brooding king with anger management issues. The pressure of wearing the crown and being responsible for everything in the ocean, has weighed on him, making him a more complex character, and opening the door for what’s sure to be an interesting big screen adaptation, as Jason Momoa brings him to the screen for DC’s Extended Universe.
Before he returns to the big screen, we’ve got a primer for you with the 17 Things You Didn’t Know About Aquaman.
17 He Was A Sea Monster
Following DC’s “Infinite Crisis” story arc, the comics jumped forward one year later, and Aquaman was surprisingly missing, though someone who might have been Arthur Curry resurfaced at the bottom of the ocean.
The possible Arthur was taken under the wing (or tentacles, if you want to be specific) of the Dweller in the Depths, a creature that resembled a cross between a squid and an octopus, but with some very human qualities. As it turned out, the possible Arthur wasn’t Aquaman at all. Instead, it was the Dweller himself.
The Dweller was Orin, the original Aquaman, who had mutated into something of a sea monster when he asked the gods of the ocean to help him save his people. Though he died over the course of the story arc, the new Arthur Curry also became the new Aquaman.
16 Piranhas Took One Of His Hands
While Aquaman had decided to take up his mother’s legacy - chronicling the history of his people and his own adventures - he still ended up embroiled in conflict with supervillains. One even used sea life against him.
When Aquaman discovered that his own brother was a supervillain, he found himself on a downward spiral, questioning his own life and falling into a depression. His sidekick Aqualad wanted to give him something to look forward to, so he led them in an investigation into radiation leaks. It turned out Aqualad had been led into a trap by the villain Charybdis.
Charybdis attempted to end Aquaman’s life by putting him over a pool of piranhas. While he held the hero over the pool, he fell in himself, and Aquaman ended up losing a hand to the fish.
15 His Wife Was Originally An Assassin
Though Aquaman fell for Mera very soon after meeting her, his wife actually had a secret that was hidden for years.
Mera was meant to be queen of her people in another dimension, and when she first met Aquaman, she traveled back and forth between the two. Hers was a “water dimension,” and she felt at home amongst the people of Atlantis, even though they considered her an outsider.
Though she became the queen of Atlantis, her relationship with Aquaman suffered after they lost their child in an attack by a villain. They went their separate ways for a while, with Aquaman even believing that he killed her in a fight at one point. Instead, she merely returned to her home dimension.
When she came back and they started up their romance again, it was during the 2010 “Brightest Day” story arc. It was then that she admitted that she was never supposed to fall for Aquaman. Instead, she had been sent from her dimension to kill him.
14 He Has A Crush On Wonder Woman
Aquaman’s best known romance might be with Mera, but she’s not the only woman he’s had feelings for over the years. In fact, he’s accidentally confessed to being drawn to Wonder Woman.
How can someone accidentally confess to anything? Thanks to Wonder Woman’s handy lasso of truth. The two travelled together underwater during a short story in a giant issue of Justice League of America, pulling a submarine to safety.
While swimming, Aquaman found himself spilling secrets to his travel companion, such as the fact that despite finding her annoying, he couldn’t help but want to be with her, and he couldn’t understand why.
As it turned out, he’d become tangled in her lasso while swimming, and he even thought she might have set him up to spill some truths on purpose.
13 He Had A Costume Change
Some comic book fans were surprised to see that DC’s live action version of Aquaman won’t don the green and orange tones of his traditional comic book costume, but it’s not the first time Aquaman’s look has been changed.
In a miniseries in the '80s, he changed up his look as well, though it was with a blue costume. Why blue? To better allow him to blend in with deep waters.
After Aquaman’s home New Venice was destroyed by his enemy Ocean Master, and the villain also made off with a precious artifact, the people were out for Aquaman. In order to allow himself the chance to take on Ocean Master again, he had to live to see another fight. His blue costume allowed him a kind of camouflage.
A follow up series was in the works, and it even might have featured the blue costume, but it never got off the ground.
12 He Was Enslaved In An Ancient Atlantean Prison
There were a few years in the early 2000s when Aquaman didn’t have his own solo series, but he was present in the JLA series as part of the team... until he went missing.
When the Justice League began their search for Aquaman, they found him, and his people, in a surprising place. They were all still in Atlantis, but they were in the Atlantis of thousands of years ago, being held there by the Ancients who inhabited it long before them.
Aquaman was in his own special kind of prison as the sorceress leading the ancient city had transformed him into water. Aquaman was stuck in a special pool, looking more like fancy decoration than the king of Atlantis. The League was able to save him thanks to some tricky magic, but the Atlanteans were enslaved in their ancient home for 15 years.
11 He Talks To Fish
One scene in the first Justice League trailer that left plenty of people laughing was Bruce Wayne meeting Arthur Curry for the first time and remarking, “I hear you can talk to fish,” only for Arthur to not have the best reaction to it. Bruce, though, isn’t wrong.
The modern version of Aquaman uses a kind of telepathy to connect with sea life and speak with them, but when Aquaman was first introduced, it wasn’t telepathy. Instead, the hero was actually able to speak the native language of the sea life he encountered.
If he chose to, Aquaman could force marine life to do his bidding, but that tends to leave the animals he meets unhappy with him, even hostile. Instead, he asks for help from sea creatures if he needs it, and offers his own assistance in return.
10 He Helped Found The Justice League
Though comic book writers love their retcons, Aquaman has remained one of the founding members of the Justice League is nearly every version of the story.
The Justice League made their team debut in The Brave And The Bold #28 in 1960, but their origin story was told two years later in their own series. In it, the comics revealed that various aliens wanted to claim Earth as their own, journeying to the planet and attempting to conquer it. Various heroes, including Aquaman, each fought different factions until having to unite to take on more.
DC comic rewrote the founding of the team many times over the years, but the closest to what audiences are about to see on the big screen in Justice League might come courtesy of Flashpoint, which saw Batman teaming up with other heroes to take on Parademons. Aquaman and Wonder Woman teamed up with Batman after he’s already met a few other heroes, but the league is founded all the same.
9 He Has A Fondness For Wreckage
As part of the Justice League, and even as King of Atlantis, Aquaman had plenty of high tech headquarters over the years. In his early appearances in More Fun Comics, though, he went a little bit more under the radar.
Instead of flashy operations centers or a throne room, Aquaman had a wrecked fishing boat. He didn’t spend a ton of time in it during early appearances since he also had his father’s workshop underwater in Atlantis, but the Golden Age character returned to the wrecked fishing boat as a hideout a few times before the stories moved on and the character got his own solo series.
With part of the boat underwater, it was an inconspicuous place for Aquaman to get some rest and plot his next move against the bad guys.
8 He Stopped Drug Smugglers With Dolphins
Even on his travels, Aquaman ends up being a hero. Once on a trip through France, he discovered an illegal smuggling operation.
A villain known as the Fisherman had gotten himself into the heroin trade. Being someone with a name like Fisherman, he couldn’t take the easy route in smuggling his drugs, and actually used dolphins to get the job done, which is how Aquaman discovered it.
He attempted to save a dolphin, thinking it was being fired upon for no reason by authorities, when in reality, the police wanted to tranquilize the dolphin in hopes of getting a clue. Wanting to put an end to it, Aquaman assisted Interpol with their investigation and shut the Fisherman down. While he did a good deed, it wasn’t without consequences.
The work against the drug smugglers was another instance in a long line of times spent away from his people in Atlantis. Thinking he was spending too much time on the surface, his people elected a new ruler.
7 He Made New Venice His Home Thanks To A Museum
Just because Aquaman was known as the King of Atlantis doesn’t mean he was always stationed in his kingdom. As someone who traveled the globe’s oceans and found himself out of favor with his people on occasion, he took on new cities to protect.
After an extended time away from Atlantis, Aquaman visited the Graveyard of Lost Ships in the Bermuda Triangle. When he returned, Aquaman discovered that the citizens of New Venice had built a museum in his honor. He decided to make New Venice his new home.
With the word spreading that Aquaman had placed the city under his protection, numerous villains began to target it. Doctor Light was the first, but Aquaman and his allies had their hands full with several villain over the following years.
6 He’s A Family Man
Despite his gruff attitude and anger issues in modern comics, in the Silver Age of comic books, Aquaman became a family man very quickly.
Aquaman did have to declare her an honorary Atlantean first since the king could only marry a citizen of Atlantis, of course. It only took a handful of more issues for the two of them to have a baby. Little Arthur Jr. even got the nickname Aquababy.
Aquaman was actually the first hero of the Silver Age to marry and have a child, even beating Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, and Marvel’s first family, to the altar by two years.
5 He Was Blind
Unlike a character like Daredevil, whose blindness is a part of him, Aquaman was struck blind temporarily by an enemy. It lasted for a single issue.
Like the Wonder Woman comics, the Aquaman comics frequently introduced ancient gods to its readers, specifically those who have dominion over water. Aquaman’s people didn’t typically worship any of these gods, instead differing to their king. That didn’t sit well with the gods, especially Triton and his father Poseidon.
After Aquaman bested Triton in a fight, Poseidon was enraged, believing Aquaman and his people shouldn’t put themselves above the gods, and blinded the king to teach him a lesson, telling him that he would be willing to reverse the effects if Aquaman would pray to him.
The king of Atlantis refused, and instead, he learned how to fight blind, though his sight was restored after a single issue.
4 He Doesn’t Own His DNA
In a strange turn of events, Aquaman ended up not even owning the rights to his own DNA when part of San Diego ended up submerged in the ocean.
“Sub Diego” was full of residents of the city from above ground who had been the subject of a scientific experiment by a local company. The company had discovered strange anomalies in the DNA of Aquaman and his people and begun experimenting with it, creating a DNA sequence that they introduced to people in case the city were to become flooded. The idea was to give them a way to survive.
The business then patented the work they had done, effectively taking ownership of Aquaman’s DNA, something he didn’t even realize until the company announced it during a press conference.
3 The Flash Named Him
Once upon a time, Aquaman didn’t have a superhero moniker. Instead, he was just known as Orin or Arthur Curry, the names given to him by his parents in different continuities. The mini series Aquaman: Time and Tide took a look back at some of the events that shaped him, revealing just how he got his name.
The Flash and Aquaman were both in pursuit of the same criminals, crossing paths in the middle of the ocean with the former running on water and the latter swimming beneath it. After the usual misunderstanding amongst heroic meet cutes in comics, the two decided to team up.
The King of Atlantis wasn’t yet well known amongst the average human, and Flash suggested he accompany him to a press conference about the duo stopping the criminals. Flash told him that it wouldn’t do to go before the press without a name, christening him Aquaman before they faced reporters as a heroic duo.
2 He Can Fly
Since his debut, Aquaman has always been shown to be able to swim faster than the average human, make powerful leaps, and even have superior strength. As of 2012, though, flying appeared to be added to his power set.
In his 2011 solo series, Aquaman ended up being able to draw from Poseidon’s power, allowing Wonder Woman to track him down as she focused on the power of the god instead of simply following Aquaman through the ocean. It was during their meeting that he demonstrated his new ability to the readers.
Wonder Woman and Aquaman hovered in midair to have their conversation instead of having it on the ground in the midst of his people. The sudden addition of the ability can put down to him having access to the powers of a god instead of just his own, so don’t expect to see him flying without a little help in Justice League.
1 He Was Almost A TV Star
During the height of Smallville’s run, several other superhero origin stories were considered as spinoffs. Aquaman came very close to getting his own tv show.
Though Alan Ritchson played the character on Smallville for a few guest appearances, Justin Hartley (who became Smallville’s Green Arrow) was the one who was cast in a pilot and would have starred in the series.
The show had A.C. as a resident of Mercy Reef and starting to discover the truth about his aquatic past. Adrianne Palicki, who went on to be cast in a Wonder Woman pilot before landing another comic book role as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Mockingbird was also set to star.
Though the pilot didn’t go to series, the single episode was available on iTunes and aired as a TV movie in Canada, leading to a lot of speculation that Aquaman would eventually make his way to the screen at a later date.
Did we miss anything that you think fans should know about Aquaman? Let us know in the comments!