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'The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure'
Jason Momoa suggested we all refrain from cracking wise at Aquaman — at least until he debuts his newer, grittier self in Batman v Superman. But it's difficult to take this advice, when the Atlantean’s cinematic past keeps coming back to haunt him. Aquaman made his first on-screen appearance in the animated Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure in 1967. The show was a compilation of short superhero segments, and comparing the hero with the Man of Steel in a fight for favoritism was borderline cruel. That said, our hero who can link mentally with aquatic life has come a long way since those early days.
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The Super Friends series from the ‘70s that followed the Superman/Aquaman Hour is the one jokers most commonly reference. Family Guy spoofed this constantly but most notably in the episode "Family Goy," which began with a reenactment (done at Meg’s expense, naturally).
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Aquaman and Friends Action Hour
After the success of Super Friends, Aquaman continued his ride on the gravy train by hosting his own kids show called Aquaman and Friends Action Hour. This was the premise for the 2003 cartoon, which was itself a parody on the character’s role. It also didn’t help his cause that he slid down a rainbow and had featured sidekicks, like Chuckles McMary.
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Superman: The Animated Series
The DC Animated Universe (DCAU) welcomed Aquaman into the fold in the 15th episode of Superman: The Animated Series. Considered an urban legend, he was captured by Lex Luthor, after which the Atlantean warrior called all sea-dwelling creatures to assault the surface world. No excessive camp or seahorse steeds could be found here.
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Justice League and Justice League Unlimited
One of Aquaman's most famous incarnations came in the 1994 and 2001 comics, which envisioned the character as a Viking-like warrior ruler with long hair, a beard, and a hook for a hand. This iteration was used as inspiration for the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited animated series, both of which are currently available on Netflix.
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Batman: The Brave and the Bold
For Cartoon Network's new show centered on the Caped Crusader, Aquaman brought back some of his signature cheese from his early years. Though, the entire show was a bit goofish. While Batman was busy fighting the Penguin, Aquaman sang a rousing, Broadway-worthy song about the DC heroes.
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While Young Justice focused primarily on a team of teenage superheroes, including Aquaman’s protégé Aqualad, the veteran Justice League members made cameos. Here, the ruler of Atlantis took a more traditional look while retaining a trimmed beard and formidable strength.
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Mad TV's parody of Aquaman began, “He's the king of Atlantis and the butt of every superhero joke." Spoofing the character's parody kids show, the sketch comedy series saw the superhero hawking his own album, called Aquapella. "California Gills," "Call Me, Algae," and "Tides Awake" were some of the tracks, but even his mentally controlled fish companions couldn’t stand his floundering.
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Teen Titans Go!
There was a time when Robin fantasized about hanging up his Boy Wonder outfit and becoming Aquaman. But that’s only because Cyborg’s match-making app paired up Starfire, Robin’s love interest, with the King of the Sea. At least the Cartoon Network show acknowledged the character’s badassery, even though he did have a butt chin.
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Before model-turned-actor Alan Ritchson became District 1 tribute Gloss in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and mo-capped Raphael in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies, he played Aquaman on Warner Bros.' Superman TV series. This was Arthur Curry's first live-action appearance on the small screen and he was turned into a dreamy, Baywatch-worthy morsel who rescued drowning damsels on the beach.
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Aquaman TV series
Much like with Wonder Woman, the WB attempted to give Aquaman his own TV show. A pilot was shot starring Justin Hartley as Arthur Curry, a dive shop owner who lost his mother in the Bermuda Triangle and is now honing his water-based abilities to protect the oceans. Aquaman was never greenlit for a series order, though Hartley went on to play Green Arrow on Smallville.
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South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker offered us one of the more famous Aquaman gags. Seaman, as he’s called, debuted in the episode "Super Best Friends," which replaced the lineup of the Super Friends cartoon with religious deities. While Mohammed could shoot flames from his hands and Joseph Smith had ice breath, Seaman and his sidekick Swallow could link mentally with fish.
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Justice League: The New Frontier
The creators of Superman: Doomsday came back with a new animated Justice League movie based on the Darwyn Cooke graphic novel. The third animated film from the DCAU told of the founding of the team when Earth was attacked by an immense alien force called The Centre. Ritchson reprised his role to voice Aquaman, who’s referred to as Arthur of Atlantis and is seen rescuing Superman.
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Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths
This direct-to-video animated feature, originally meant to connect the two Justice League animated series, starred the main players of the DC universe — except Aquaman. Arthur only appeared briefly when the League's floating tower was under attack from assailants from a parallel dimension. Despite his strength, Aquaman wasn't much of a match for them.
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Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
Based on the famed DC story arc, this animated film featured Aquaman at his most — for lack of a better term — badass. Bolstered with the bod of a hulking WWE wrestler, this iteration of Arthur hacked 'n' slashed his enemies down with his trusty trident. He proved to be a deadly adversary during his battle with Wonder Woman, which took a dark turn when he tried to rip out Cyborg’s heart for interfering.
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JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time
Aquaman dropped the steroids for his next animated movie appearance. Flanked by The Flash and Cyborg, the slimmer and less-menacing hero travels back in time to foil a plot by the Legion of Doom. "You can’t win battles armed with a fork," taunted Aquaman's nemesis Black Manta during a fight. Thankfully, he was armed with enough puns to defend himself.
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Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
After the events of <em, which saw the world attacked by Darkseid's forces, the next installment of this animated universe focused on Arthur Curry. This was Aquaman done right. We see the hero getting the well-rounded origin story that he deserves, as he comes to terms with his abilities and struggles with his responsibilities between Atlantis and the surface world. Even his dominion over marine life was made dark and gritty when he commanded a great white shark to devour an enemy.</em
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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
"Like it or not, I’m the new f—king Aquaman, buddy," Momoa said during the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo earlier this year. The Man of Steel-led cinematic universe will be revamping the character once again, this time portraying the hero with a Hawaiian influence and a ton of tattoos. Momoa will make his first appearance in next year’s Batman v Superman before joining the Justice League film in 2017 and his own solo film directed by James Wan in 2018. As he told EW, "I think, yeah, [Aquaman’s] been cast aside. But, um [laughs] times are going to change now, buddy."