Like Thanos and Killmonger before him, the villain of DC's Aquaman will have a fairly sympathetic reason for waging war against an entire people. Superhero films are often knocked for providing the protagonist with a one-dimensional lead, but that's slowly been changing over the years. Marvel has been praised for Loki, Cottonmouth, Kingpin, and more, who have added charisma and relatable goals to the traditional desire to kill and rule. Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War were especially praised for this, as the murderous foes of both films could almost be viewed as anti-heroes in a light similar to The Punisher.
This week, we've finally learned more about the characters and plot of Aquaman, which is hoping to set the DCEU on a better path. We'll have to wait and see if such a weighty goal can be accomplished, but the early looks we've seen certainly promise an exciting and unique spin on the superhero genre. What's more, it sounds as if King Orm won't be the typical mustache-twirling villain in the movie, but will instead be motivated by some altruistic goals.
EW spoke with Patrick Wilson about playing the role of King Orm in Aquaman, and it seems his beef with the surface world actually has a legitimate backing.
He’s kind of an eco-warrior. He’s got a very clear gripe with the surface world, which has been polluting his oceans for centuries. And that’s something for me — I’m sure for you too — that’s very easy to understand. If somebody was just constantly polluting our air and ruining how we lived…
Given the actual state the world is in, the idea that someone would seek vengeance for the environment isn't very far-fetched. It's also a plot pulled straight from many Aquaman stories across comics and animation. Orm and other Atlanteans - including Aquaman himself - have always taken issue with the way the surface world has defiled the oceans they dwell in. And for the villain known as Ocean Master, war with the humans above is often the response.
Despite Black Manta making his debut in the film, King Orm will be Aquaman's main villain. As such, his rivalry with the surface world and proposed war should get a lot of focus. But despite his often surly attitude in the comics, director James Wan says Orm doesn't hate his half-brother - at least not at first.
Patrick is such a talented actor and a chameleon as well, he can disappear into any role. Orm’s got a soft spot for his brother who lives on the surface world and if anything just wants him to rule Atlantis and the world together, but his brother doesn’t see it that way. A lot of the clashes they have stem from their different upbringings. So I didn’t want to cast a typical villain actor.
The idea that Orm is willing to rule alongside Arthur Curry is interesting, but it's safe to assume the plan to wipe out the surface world doesn't sit well with Aquaman. All of this info lines up with the Aquaman synopsis from awhile back that teased Atlantis heading to battle with the world above the waves. And while that means Aquaman will have a typically bombastic threat of planetary destruction, at least the ideology behind it will be refreshingly unique.