Warning: SPOILERS for Aquaman
If you had told comic fans that the Aquaman movie would bring the monstrous Karathen to life, they might have believed you. But tell them it would be Mary Poppins voicing the creature in a secret cameo, and nobody would have bought it.
Yet the Aquaman movie has arrived, making Julie Andrews the undisputed, and undeniably biggest character in the DC movie universe. The story of her casting is yet another attempt by director James Wan to flip expectations on their head: to give the biggest, baddest, most ancient kaiju in the DCEU not just a woman's voice, but that of one of the most iconic English actresses alive today... even if most fans will never even notice the incredible cameo in their midst.
When word broke of Julie Andrews' cameo in Aquaman, a fair bit of the controversy was due to the film's release date, competing directly with Mary Poppins Returns. Knowing that director Rob Marshall planned to have Julie Andrews cameo in Mary Poppins Returns from the very beginning, many raised eyebrows over the fact that Andrews passed up the part to voice the literal monster her successor would be contending with. But fear not, Andrews fans, there is no shade being thrown behind this strange twist of fate.
The promotional tour for Aquaman has explained the story of Andrews' involvement to one and all, and it sounds as if Andrews wasn't the only English thespian of acclaim that Wan considered. But it's hard to solve a problem like the Karathen with anyone other than Julie Andrews, so she became the top choice. And if you think 'voicing an ancient hateful leviathan in the Aquaman movie' is all the sales pitch even Andrews needs to hear to sign on, it turns out James Wan - a favorite director of her grandson - tipped the scales. Fate had spoken, and Andrews can now be heard (with help from some vocal effects) issuing the following lines prior to Aquaman's final trial:
You do not belong here. I have guarded the trident against false kings since the beginning, and for a thousand years. I have seen the greatest champions try and fail, but never have I sensed one as unworthy as you. You dare come here, with your tainted, mongrel blood to claim Atlantis' greatest treasure? So be it, half-breed... You thought yourself worthy? You thought yourself a king? You dishonor this place with your presence.
You understand me? No mortal has conversed with me since King Atlan. Who are you? No man has ever freed the trident from Atlan's grip. Should he deem you unworthy, well... I haven't feasted in eons, and I am famished.
The Karathen is not a new creation for the film, but a fairly accurate depiction of the same giant beast from the comics. Fortunately, when that Karathen (or "Karaqan" as it was spelled there) emerged from the depths it did so in a rage not even Aquaman could control. The comic confirmed its origins as an ancient defender of Atlantis, loyal to its king, which the movie keeps mainly intact.
That Karaqan ended up being killed in the scuffle, so the question for the movie is just how the world will be potentially changed if the gigantic Karathen sticks around for the sequel. And whether or not Julie Andrews will return to the role, if it does.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018