If the way Justice League handled Aquaman's underwater scenes had you worried, you can relax. We've seen the changes for ourselves, and Aquaman fans will be relieved... but not in all the ways they might expect.
One would think that after the Justice League movie actually took audiences underwater to see Aquaman talk, swim, and fight, that there would be no more mystery surrounding the same challenge in his solo movie. But after Screen Rant was invited to the Aquaman editing bay to be walked through several sequences with director James Wan, the results speak for themselves. Aquaman's version of underwater dialogue, action, and movement is a bigger change from Justice League than we expected.
So for the fans eager to wrap their minds around the prospect of an Aquaman movie set mostly underwater, allow us to explain the differences.
- This Page: Justice League's Underwater 'Talk Bubbles' Are Gone
- Page 2: Aquaman's Fighting is Better and Worse Than Snyder's
How Justice League Solved Underwater Talking
In all honesty, most Justice League viewers would agree that saying the movie "solved" the challenge of talking underwater would be a stretch. At best, the film sidestepped it altogether. We may never know how the scene between Arthur and Mera (Amber Heard) would have played out had Zack Snyder remained in the director's seat through post-production, but the shortage of time and money to plug plot holes in Whedon's version won out. Instead of the movie giving some idea of how talking in water would differ from talking in air, the movie plopped both actors into a "conversation bubble" that confused the very nature and culture of Atlanteans.
James Wan came out almost immediately to assure fans that this dodge wasn't a sign that the problem still hadn't been solved for his own film, promising that the Aquaman movie wouldn't have air bubbles to get around dialogue. And after seeing several scenes set in and around Atlantis, we can confirm that's the case.
How Aquaman Solves Underwater Talking
The Aquaman movie solves the problem in an unimpressive way, but the one that most fans would likely agree is the simplest. People talking underwater looks like... people talking anywhere else. Would Atlantean vocal chords produce a normal voice when vibrating through water, but shift up to a higher pitch when moved into the less dense medium of air? Science says yes, but the film isn't going to that level of authenticity (again, probably for the best). And from what we saw of Orm, Arthur, and Mera, there's no meaningful difference between their speech underwater and on dry land. Aside from the water-vomit added to Aquaman mythology, of course.
The movie has yet to pin down exactly how the raw physical strength of an Atlantean compares to a human being, but there were moments that appeared to show louder exclamations causing a ripple in the water. The line between immersion and distraction with that device could be difficult to find, however, so it seemed to be used sparingly. Aside from characters gently bobbing or drifting in relation to the camera, it would be possible to forget they were even underwater, during extended exchanges.
But without question, the most exciting use of the underwater world, and the tweaks made from Justice League are found when Aquaman stops talking, and starts fighting.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018