By Mainey Tester
Zack Snyder Shares the First Picture of Jason Momoa in His Aquaman Costume: “There Is Only One True King”
First and foremost, I love how Warner Bros./Time Warner and Zack Snyder have been so almost arbitrary about releasing bits and pieces from what is the new DC Cinematic Universe. A press release here, a random photo on Twitter there. Almost nothing gets leaked, pretty much every piece of information or image comes out when the powers-that-be want it to come out. And last night’s surprise “first look” at Jason Momoa’s Aquaman is no exception. Mr. Snyder just went and dropped this official first-look photo on Twitter several hours ago (literally right after I went to bed, thanks a lot, pal!) with no notice and with no fanfare. I’m starting to wonder if Zack Snyder is just going to drop the Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice teaser on his Twitter account on a random Sunday at 5:00am just to be annoying. Speaking of which, this is a nice bit of misdirection. We were all expecting a Batman V Superman trailer, but instead we got a high-quality look at Aquaman.
Image credit: Twitter
Everyone and their sister have been champing at the bit for the first would-be teaser for Batman V Superman” Dawn of Justice which was “supposed” to debut in front of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies before it was “supposed” to debut at the Super Bowl before it was “supposed” to debut before Jupiter Ascending. Unless Warner Bros. decides to attach it to Universal/Comcast Corp.’s Furious 7, we may in-fact end up waiting until May where it either debuts in front of Walt Disney’s Avengers: Age of Ultron (which would be fitting, akin to Universal dropping its Hulk teaser in front of Spider-Man in 2002) or Mad Max: Fury Road two weeks later. Dropping a trailer is partially about keeping the film in the conversation and in the news cycle, but the above photo, which of course will inspire a million blog posts (mea culpa) with nothing more than an image and a vague tagline. Since there are any number of iconic characters who will be “revealed” for Dawn of Justice and the various other movies in the works, Warner Bros. could very-well keep the film in the news cycle for the next year just by dropping one “first look” image a month (“Hey, it’s Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor!” “Hey, it’s Jared Leto as The Joker!”) and saving money on trailers.
What is interesting is how much I’ve read about how relatively, for lack of a better word, “bad ass” this new Aquaman is. And of course, they didn’t hire Mr. Momoa so he could look sweet and wholesome. Moreover, the notion that we should be surprised by how intimidating the character looks shows something of a generational disconnect. And that disconnect is actually Warner Bros.’ secret weapon in terms of the character standing on his own two sea legs for a stand-alone film. Point being, if you’re an adult who primarily knows the Aquaman character from Super Friends, you probably consider Arthur Curry to be a foppish figure of mockery and incompetence. You know the jokes. “Uh oh, The Penguin has robbed a bank and escaped by air, I’m sure that guy who can talk to animals will be really useful with that one!” The helpless, useless, and comically inept Aquaman from Super Friends (obviously somewhat exaggerated by snarky fans of the show long after the fact) became the status quo for the underwater superhero.
When Aquaman made his debut on the animated Justice League back in 2001, he was something of a revelation to a generation of young kids as well as adults unfamiliar with the comic versions (and let’s be honest, that’s most people at any given time). He was ripped, bare-chested, with long flowing hair and a very manly beard, and he proved his heroism in the initial episode by A) chopping off his own hand to save himself and his infant son and B) coldly letting his traitorous brother fall to his death. If you weren’t an avid comics reader, this new and improved Aquaman was something of a revelation. Bruce Timm and the gang wisely kept him as a recurring character rather than as a regular member of the team, so his appearances were always something of a special event. Aquaman put in his time on Smallville, even getting a not-very-good spin-off pilot that never made it to series.
But the next major incarnation was his supporting role in Batman: The Brave and the Bold. There are many wonderful things to say about Batman: The Brave and the Bold, an animated show that is in love with every aspect of the DC Comics universe, but the most impressive thing about it is how Aquaman is basically the best character on the show. Appearing in the third episode and voiced by John Di Maggio, the animated Aquaman was an unapologetic blowhard and serial exaggerator, but also a genuinely kind and thoughtful friend to his fellow heroes and to the people of Atlantis. He absolutely loved being a hero and wasn’t afraid to admit it, and he was a prime source of earned comedy on a show that was often laugh-out-loud funny even while oddly being the most violent Batman animated show yet aired. Batman: The Brave and the Bold didn’t just make Aquaman cool, they made him the character you most wanted to see over the course of the show’s run. As such, he showed up in 27 of the 65 episodes, more than any other non-Batman superhero.
Here’s the rub to all of this. If you ask someone my age, they’ll probably still associate Aquaman from his stint on the Super Friends show back in the 1970′s and 1980s. But if you ask kids today or even young adults a generation removed from myself, their primary exposure to the Aquaman character is not the campy Super Friends variation, but rather the mighty warrior incarnation from Justice League and/or the righteously cheerful adventurer from Batman: The Brave and the Bold or even the PG-13 incarnations in the various DCAU DTV animated features in which he appeared. In short, if you talk to a kid who isn’t old enough to have had Super Friends be their first (and for much of their life, only) exposure to Aquaman, they already think Aquaman is pretty cool, or at-least decidedly not-lame. The photo above is arguably least surprising to today’s kids because they didn’t grow up in an era where Aquaman was a figure of mockery and derision. As such, the biggest advantage that Warner Bros. has in terms of making the big-screen variation of Aquaman relevant to today’s moviegoers is that the kids of today already expect Aquaman to be cool.
So when Jason Momoa grabs his trident, raises his arms in anger as thunder cracks and the waves rush under him, and bellows “That’s… outrageous!,” those who will be applauding will be doing so not out of mockery, but out of affection. Warner Bros. doesn’t need to convince kids of today that Aquaman is cool. Their animated properties over the last fifteen years did the job already.
Check out the full write up via Forbes.