Speaking on the set of director James Wan's Aquaman, Jason Momoa explained how Zack Snyder laid the foundation for the aquatic superhero in the DC Extended Universe, ahead of Wan's film. Snyder was responsible for casting the Game of Thrones veteran to play Arthur Curry to begin with and even unveiled the first photo of Momoa in costume as the character, ahead of his brief debut on the big screen in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Momoa then returned to play a far more substantial role in Snyder's third DCEU film, Justice League.
Now The Conjuring and Furious 7 helmsman Wan is putting his own spin on the Atlantean warrior. Among other things, Wan's entry will flesh out the titular character's backstory in the DCEU via flashbacks that offer a better look at his parents (human Thomas Curry and Atlantean Queen Atlanna) and even reveal how Arthur learned to talk to fish, among other things. Nevertheless, Momoa has noted it was really Snyder who mapped out the frame-work for Aquaman's big screen iteration.
As Momoa told the press on the Aquaman set (h/t Collider), Snyder figured out the "bare bones" of the DCEU's Arthur Curry, including where he comes from and "what he was about". The actor emphasized that he sought to balance that outline of the character with what Wan had in mind with his solo film, which he said is "a very spectacular, different view of what, originally, when I was with Zack". Justice League touches on a number of key elements from Arthur's backstory during a conversation that he has with Mera (Amber Heard) in Atlantis, yet leaves room for Wan's movie to reveal the "finer aspects of the character" and connect the dots all together, to quote Momoa.
Momoa further revealed that he spent a fair amount of time on his own plotting out Aquaman's life just before and after Justice League, in order to bridge the gap between that film and Wan's DCEU installment:
That definitely was one of the hard things was going like, ‘Okay, here’s Aquaman’s life and here’s Justice League.’ So, I made up a whole bunch of different scenarios of what it was like beforehand, then he comes and he joins the team and then he goes back to his life. So, that was really important to all the forward stuff, because afterwards that was up for James [Wan] to go, ‘Hey, the future is yours. You’ve already done Justice League. I need everything pre.’ And, uh, building all that stuff on your own is building a character.
Snyder, however, was the one responsible for the most easy-to-recognize difference between the comic book Aquaman and the DCEU version - namely, he's part Polynesian, just like Momoa. This heritage is further reflected in the character's tattoos (which are full of Polynesian symbols) and the casting of his human father Thomas, who is brought to life by Temuera Morrison (Attack of the Clones, Moana). According to Momoa, getting to play another a non-white superhero (a creative decision on Snyder's end) was very much a big deal to him:
I mean, that was the biggest honor, like when Zack [Snyder] told me-there’s just so many brown-skinned kids that are gonna grow up and go, like, ‘Yeah, all of our gods are water gods’. It is an absolute honor. Some people accept that he’s not white. I think it’s cool. It’s an honor for me to be that person standing up. Dream job, you know what I mean?
Indeed, as divisive as the Snyder-directed DCEU movies are, he's also responsible for many of the franchise's best received aspects, like Momoa's Aquaman and Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman. Snyder similarly laid the groundwork for the larger Aquaman mythology in the DCEU, which Wan is now expanding upon in new and (hopefully) captivating ways with his solo movie. In that sense, Snyder's influence and creative role on the franchise will continue to live on in important ways, even now that his own time playing in the DCEU sandbox has (seemingly) drawn to a close.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020