How Aquaman’s Jason Momoa and James Wan made a unique superhero movie

Jason Momoa never doubted he had the talent to be a superhero — he certainly had the background for it.

This is the man who played Khal Drogo on HBO’s Game of Thrones and has the triceps needed to convince Hollywood that a Conan the Barbarian sequel is necessary. Rumors of Momoa eventually entering Warner Bros.’ DC Comics-inspired live-action film universe initially suggested he’d play Doomsday, the muscle-bound, CGI-heavy monster who killed Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

But what about Aquaman? Momoa himself has said that he initially had to be convinced by director Zack Snyder, who ultimately cast him in the role, that he was the right man to play DC’s sea king.

“I was a little shocked because I didn’t really understand why he chose me,” Momoa said.

Momoa says that when Snyder was assembling the cast for 2017’s polarizing Justice League, he was looking for an edgy hero, someone who would question the authority of DC icons like Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman, and who could realistically punch anyone in the face.

Snyder envisioned the hero as having maternal ancestors descended from the mystical underwater world of Atlantis, as in the comics, but added a cultural twist: the character’s human father was of Polynesian descent. Momoa, who was born in Hawaii to a Native Hawaiian father and a white mother and later raised in Iowa, suddenly saw a connection with the historically white and blond character.

Momoa is aware that it would be groundbreaking for an actor of his stature to play the leading superhero role.

“There’s not much brown in 2019. [biracial] “Superheroes. It would have been so cool if Batman was this color when I grew up,” Momoa said. “I’ve spoken to people from so many beautiful and diverse places, from Colombia, Argentina, Mexico to Malaysia and Singapore. [they] “We’re very excited about this. Many of us have a deep connection to water and our own folklore and mythology about supernatural powers and gods that reside in water, so to be the first to bring that to life is really amazing.” [with “Aquaman”] And it sets the tone.”

“Aquaman” is Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment’s attempt to recreate the magic of 2017’s “Wonder Woman,” which was a critical and box office success. Warner Bros. and DC also likely hope the film will drown out the negative press surrounding “Justice League,” a film that failed to capitalize on the buzz generated by “Wonder Woman.”

Aquaman is one of DC’s best superhero movies

Aquaman came out in a year when superheroes of color were on the big screen and films helmed by directors of color behind the camera were now big business. Like Marvel Studios’ billion-dollar hit, Golden Globe-nominated Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Chadwick Boseman, Aquaman has a director of color (Malaysian-born Australian James Wan) directing actors of color.

“James came with a vision. He’s the captain of the ship,” Momoa said. “He embraced what had already been built. [with Snyder] And then I put my fingerprints on it.”

Wang said knowing Momoa was already set to star made pre-production planning much easier.

“I [Aquaman] “We knew exactly how the character would speak,” Wan said, “so it was easy for us because me and the writers came up with something, because we were like, ‘Oh, Jason wouldn’t say it like that, he’d say it more like this,’ or he’d do it more like this,’ and so on. That actually made the process a lot easier.”

Wan was tapped to direct Aquaman, where he will both write and executive produce, by former DC Entertainment president Geoff Johns, who has declared himself a fan of Wan’s work as a director on both horror films and TV series.“saw” and “The Conjuring”) and action movies (“Fast & Furious 7”).

Given the piranha-headed creatures from the darkest depths of the ocean, as well as Momoa’s shirtless performances, such as tossing pirates around like toys and hoisting a submarine over his head, Johns believed Wan’s genre-mixing ability made him the perfect choice to helm the project.

Johns’ creative comic book DNA is all over Aquaman; much of the film draws inspiration from his time writing for DC Comics. The pages of Johns’ comics come to life in the film, featuring fellow royal and love interest Mera (Amber Heard), classic favorite villain Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) bent on revenge, and Orm/Ocean Master (Patrick Wilson), Aquaman’s half-brother who sits on the throne of Atlantis and sees his half-human hero brother as a threat.

Wan said he spent hours reading Johns’ Aquaman series, particularly the issues from the “New 52” era that began in 2011, and that the two worked “very closely” in shaping the film’s story.

“What I wanted to tell was a story of exploration,” Wang says. “A new audience is [Aquaman’s story]”I wanted something simple, with a cast of really interesting characters and the ability to come up with really striking visuals and set pieces. And I needed to start with a story that people could really easily latch onto.”

The story of “Aquaman” is a tale of secret heritage and royalty surrounding an underwater throne, culminating in the hero’s journey to find the Trident that will make him the undisputed king of all things underwater.

“idea [is] that [Aquaman] “Aquaman is searching for the legendary Excalibur,” Wan said of Aquaman (whose real name, coincidentally, is the same as King Arthur, Excalibur’s owner). “There are a lot of superhero movies in the world, but I felt I had to do something different. So I thought I’d make an action-adventure fantasy movie. That was my first step. And the second step was to create visuals and images that had never been seen before, and ultimately be faithful to the comic books.”

Momoa praised Wan’s storytelling approach and the film’s time to explore the royal and superhuman aspects of the Aquaman mythos. Part of that pacing was having the hero spend most of the movie in street clothes rather than the bright orange and green royal Atlantean armor the character is known for. And while the suit did eventually make its debut in the film’s trailer (there’s a fanbase to satisfy, after all), Momoa was pleased that Aquaman earned the right to wear the uniform.

“I’m not interested in making him king yet,” Momoa said. “I’m not interested in making him king yet. [wanted] To see his journey. [But] I love being able to [wear the suit] For the fans.”

Momoa says he’s happy with his fictional role as king of the ocean for now, and is ready to get serious again if “Aquaman” is a box office success.

“Look, I’d love to play him again and I’m contractually obligated to do one more movie,” Momoa said. “If the fans love it and the audience loves it, then of course I’d love to do one more.”

Though Aquaman hasn’t been released domestically yet, it’s already grossed over $266 million overseas, so the new film is sure to be a huge commercial success.

“Aquaman” became the biggest movie in the world last weekend, despite being released in just one country.

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