[Mild SPOILERS for Justice League.]
Although Justice League offers a glimpse at the underwater city of Atlantis, Jason Momoa has confirmed that there were more scenes set there that wound up on the cutting room floor. During the buildup to Justice League‘s release, the first image of Momoa as Aquaman (in)famously included the now-aborted ‘Unite the Seven’ catchphrase. Footage of the actor filming underwater scenes for the film gave fans one of their first behind-the-scenes looks at Justice League, ahead of time.
Given that Justice League brings Aquaman, Cyborg, and The Flash fully into DC’s shared cinematic universe, the film was always designed to serve as a mini origin story for the characters. As such, each was meant to have a few supporting players to help flesh out their backstory. In the end, characters like Kiersey Clemons’ Iris West and Willem Dafoe’s Nuidis Vulko were cut from the film. When it comes to the latter, it turns out he was originally meant to have a fairly sizable role in the film and Arthur Curry’s plotline.
GameSpot spoke with the stars of Justice League about the film’s deleted scenes and asked Momoa in particular what happened to Dafoe appearing as Vulko. Naturally, the movie’s modest runtime played a role, thus cutting some vital shading for Aquaman. According to Momoa:
“There’s a place where [Aquaman] goes down to, and it got cut out of the movie. He knows spots where he can go and he can see these statues, the remnants of [Atlantis]. There’s Vulko–obviously we’ll have way more scenes with Vulko, Willem Dafoe–in Aquaman. There just wasn’t enough time in this movie.”
Atlantis itself (the location where one of the Mother Boxes is kept, to be exact) only makes a brief appearance during Justice League. This, in turn, allows the big reveal of the underwater city to be saved for James Wan’s Aquaman next year. The flip side, however, is that Arthur Curry’s contentious relationship with his people is left out of the former – something that Momoa commented on:
“Vulko’s his connection to Atlantis. I think what Zack [Snyder] and I did, we were kind of trying to establish that he was taken down there as a boy, and he was an outcast, he was a half-breed, and he was built up as a young boy, because he was fed all these ideas by Vulko — that he was the rightful king. And he gets down there, and he’s a half breed, he’s impure, and I’m just made to feel like I’m this disease. So after that, I was like, ‘fuck you, fuck you, I’m on my own.’”
Though Justice League would have to be considerably longer to include these scenes, they would have gone a long way towards making Aquaman more than just one-note thrill seeker. Shades of his tragic past and issues with both of his home worlds are alluded to in the film, but there’s not much time spent exploring these ideas. Fortunately, next year will bring both more context to Aquaman’s life and the debut of Dafoe’s Vulko. For now, Justice League serves as a fitting tease for the future King of Atlantis.
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