Jason Mamoa Image Credit: The New York Times

1. ‘Aquaman’ is the first DC Extended Universe (DCEU) movie since 2017’s ‘Justice League’

Director James Wan’s ‘Aquaman’ is set a year after the events of the Steppenwolf incident in the ‘Justice League’ movie, a disaster of a film that everyone, including the makers themselves, are trying to forget. Jason Momoa reprises his role as Arthur Curry/Aquaman, a reluctant superhero, who feels lost between his dual identities of half-human and half-Atlantean. When he learns of his Atlantean half-brother King Orm’s (Patrick Wilson) plan to declare war on the surface, Arthur is persuaded by Atlantean warrior Mera (Amber Heard) to journey to Atlantis and take his rightful place as king.

2. Aquaman has had a long and tumultuous history in the comics

Created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger, Aquaman made his debut in ‘More Fun Comics #73’ way back in November 1941. He didn’t make much of a splash in his early years and spent nearly two decades in the shadows owing to the Second World War when the only comics that managed to survive where the big three — Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Aquaman finally made his presence felt in the 60s when he joined the Justice League as a founding member and got his own cartoon series that ran from 1967 to 1970.

3. Aquaman: The aquatic superhero

Aquaman, the King of the Seven Seas, is the ruler of all things oceanic. He can breathe underwater, swim at tremendous speeds and communicate with all sea creatures as well as control them. Being an Atlantean-human hybrid, his underwater skills help him largely on land as well. Able to withstand ocean depths, he gets bonus points on land with his superhuman strength, enhanced senses and nearly impenetrable skin. He also has extraordinary vision, which makes it easy for him to see in the murky depths of the ocean as well as give him night vision powers on land.

4. Aquaman’s parents are played by Nicole Kidman and Temuera Morrison

Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman makes her comic book movie debut with ‘Aquaman’, playing the titular hero’s royal mother, Queen Atlanna of Atlantis. While she’ll remain largely off-screen, her presence will be felt strongly through the movie, reports say. Renowned New Zealand star Temuera Morrison (‘Once Were Warriors’), also known for playing the feared Mandalorian mercenary Jango Fett in the ‘Star Wars’ franchise, will play Tom Curry, Arthur’s human father and a lighthouse keeper.

In an interview with Comicbook.com, director James Wan revealed how the parents’ roles are crucial to Arthur Curry’s character development. “The love story between Atlanna and [Arthur’s father] is the emotional backbone for the movie and how it informs Arthur’s character and his journey and sort of his bitter outlook on the world of Atlantis,” Wan said. “He blames them for something that happens to her and it shapes his point of view.”

5. ‘Aquaman’ features two major villains — Black Manta and Ocean Master/Orm

No superhero film is complete without its rogue’s gallery. While fans have been thrilled ever since Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) was announced as a villain in the ‘Aquaman’ film, makers have been quick to point out that the overarching villain of the movie remains King Orm/Ocean Master (Patrick Wilson), Arthur Curry’s fully Atlantean half-brother. Power hungry and quick to a fight, Orm’s ultimate desire is to establish Atlantis as the ruling kingdom of the seven oceans as well as the surface world.

Toning down on the superhero and magical bits, the film also offers up David Hyde/Black Manta, a skilled engineer and undersea pirate with no powers of his own, other than his super suit that helps him navigate the deep seas and also shoots cool plasma blasts from his eyes. While Black Manta’s origin stories have changed as often as Aquaman’s, his motive behind fighting the hero in the movie is still unclear.

6. Amber Heard’s Mera is almost as powerful, if not more, than Aquaman

An Atlantean warrior princess, Mera was first briefly seen in ‘Justice League’ to provide some backstory to Momoa’s Aquaman. In the spin-off film, Amber Heard’s Mera, apart from being the obvious love interest, will very likely overshadow the Marine Marvel himself. She has the unique ability to form ‘hard water’ objects, as well as super strength and powers related to her adaptation to living under water. She has been shown to be powerful enough to control huge amounts of water, enough to pull an entire army out to sea. In the trailer, she’s also seen jumping off a plane, sans parachute.

7. Director James Wan brings his love for horror to the underwater adventure movie

Wan’s name has been synonymous with horror for years now, having directed nightmare fodder such as ‘Saw’, ‘Insidious’, and the ‘Conjuring’ franchise. And while ‘Aquaman’ is not by any long shot a horror movie, elements of the genre have snuck into the superhero film, including a very cool nod to ‘Anabelle’.

Fans of the comics will remember the Trench, a terrifying underwater race who live way below the ocean floor in total darkness; the monstrous bipedal creatures are set to make an appearance in the film, and Wan says he took ample inspiration from horror writer HP Lovecraft’s classic works to create bring these creatures to life.

“People are terrified of the ocean because they don’t know what’s down there. There’s all these creatures that live down in the ocean that are dangerous to humans... that’s one of the things I want to capture; I want to capture the fear that we have of the ocean, the scariness,” said the director in an interview with Cinema Blend.

8. Willem Dafoe makes the jump from Marvel to DC with the film

Sixteen years ago, Willem Dafoe made his superhero movie debut with Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’ (2002). With ‘Aquaman’, the Academy Award nominee jumps ship from Marvel to join the DC clan as Nuidis Vulko, Arthur Curry’s longtime guardian and mentor and one of the few Atlanteans who pledges their fealty to Queen Atlanna’s half-human son.

9. The film borrows heavily from Geoff John’s run on ‘Aquaman’ comics

DC’s critically acclaimed line-wide New 52 reboot saw Aquaman’s origin story relaunched to re-establish his link to both the surface world and Atlantis, again making him the son of human Tom Curry and Atlantean Queen Atlanna. Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Joe Prado served as the initial creative team of the new series, the first issue of which was released September 28, 2011, for those who want to go back and give the series a read. Johns also worked on the story for the ‘Aquaman’ movie, signalling a close-tie with the comics.

10. The film is already a hit in China and has been green-lit for a sequel

Releasing a week before the rest of the world in China, ‘Aquaman’ crossed $100 million (Dh367.2 million) in ticket sales in three days, a mark the rest of the DC films failed to reach at their entire run in the country. That marked a new opening-weekend record for both Warner Bros and DC in China, a promising sign for the future of the Aquaman brand and franchise. The box-office blitzkrieg and projected cash grabs in the rest of the world also had Warner brothers announcing their intention to give the movie a speedy sequel, according to a report in The Hollywood Reporter.

Don’t miss it

Aquaman releases in the UAE on December 13.