I’m done with people who think Aquaman is lame. It’s less an argument than a played-out meme that draws its evidence from two ridiculous sources: Super Friends, a TV show that no one under the age of 30 actually watched; and Entourage, a TV show that everyone under the age of 30 watched, God damn our rotten souls. Aquaman’s classic costume is silly—green and orange, booties and gloves—but his backstory has ten Game of Thrones‘ worth of awesomely kookbat mythology. He can control all sea creatures, which yes hahaha he talks to dolphins OH LOOK OUT SMART GUY FIFTY SHARKS JUST ATE YOUR FAT FACE OFF.
Very few superheroes are fundamentally terrible. (Even Hawkman has some good moments, though that’s mostly because of Hawkwoman.) And unlike a lot of other superheroes, Aquaman comes equipped with a whole underwater-mystical milieu that could make an Aquaman movie really special, or at least a little different. In movie terms, you could almost see him as DC’s version of Thor: A character who is less a superhero than a fantasy protagonist, with a first film that carefully establishes the character’s status in the real and fantasy worlds.
But Warner Bros. doesn’t do “carefully establishes.” Thus comes word that Jason Momoa will reportedly play Aquaman in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, a movie which also features Wonder Woman and Cyborg and Lex Luthor and maybe Lois Lane and probably not Metamorpho. The casting seems purposefully designed to appease the “Aquaman is Lame” contingent. Momoa is best known for playing the barbarian badass Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones; he also played Conan the Barbarian in the second-best Conan movie and has a lead role as a mountainous morally ambiguous criminal on The Red Road.
He’s also nine feet tall. One thing you can say for the Snyderverse: The casting ain’t subtle. Henry Cavill and Momoa are giants; Ben Affleck bulked up quite a bit for Batman. It’s funny in abstract to compare the burgeoning Justice League series to Avengers, where the fourth and fifth leads are “gal with a gun” and “guy with an arrow.”
Of course, it’s entirely possible that Momoa’s Aquaman will appear for one scene in BvS: DoJ, and it’s entirely possible that his Aquaman won’t have much to do with the Comic-Aquaman. Like Wonder Woman, Aquaman has around dozen origin stories to choose from; based on Man of Steel, they might just junk all those origin stories and throw in something about a genetic codex. It’s not really clear where Momoa fits into the series: Aquaman was the one character who didn’t have his own spinoff in that leaked DCU schedule, which could imply that he’s the Hawkeye.
All we really know is that they cast Aquaman for badassery. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it’s worth remembering that, in the mid-’90s, DC made an aggressive move to cowboy Aquaman up, giving him a beard and a hook-hand and a bad attitude. The results weren’t pretty. Not every character has to be Batman. Let’s hope the filmmakers of Dawn of Justice realize that. And let’s hope the Momoa casting didn’t come about because everyone thought that Aquaman was lame.