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In a key battle scene from DC’s superteam smash-up, Jason Momoa’s aquatic metahuman Arthur joins Cyborg (Ray Fisher) in the sky to attack the nefarious extraterrestrial parademons. “It’s one of the coolest scenes in the movie,” says Momoa, on the phone from Australia, where he’s currently filming his character’s solo spinoff (due next December). “I originally ride the Batmobile. I jump off with my trident – my trusty pitchfork – and stab parademons. They pull me up into the sky, so I basically fight them in the air. I get to bite into their wings, and tear their wings off. He falls to the ground, and Cyborg saves him. My character’s kind of savage.”
Kind of? Towering over six feet tall, sporting a metal-band beard, Momoa seems like a bold departure from the blond-haired, green-bootied Aquaman that launched a hundred Entourage jokes. According to Momoa, that was director Zack Snyder’s intention. “When Zack was creating the character, he really wanted this Outlaw Josey Wales type, someone who’s the outsider,” says the actor. “He wasn’t really accepted on land, and not really accepted in Atlantis. That was kind of an interesting thing for me with this character. I could relate to it, coming from Iowa and being Hawaiian. I grew up in Iowa, it’s a great place. But I’m born in Hawaii. Half my family’s in Iowa, half my family’s in Hawaii. Not being fully accepted in either, I can definitely relate.”
Within the superteam, the undersea superhero is “a devil’s advocate, more of a reluctant hero,” Momoa says. “I’m kind of the one who doubts everything.” While admitting that the look of his character is different from the conventional incarnation, Momoa considers the Aquaman of the DC Extended Universe as a natural adaptation of the original character. “We’re definitely trying to honor the comics,” he explains. “Polynesian people, obviously, we have tons of water gods. It’s kind of a neat thing that there’s a brown-skinned superhero.”
When we meet him in Justice League, Arthur’s living in Iceland, far away from his native Atlantis. “We just don’t know all the reasons why,” Momoa explains, “What made him want to run away, to be away. And I think that’s what we find in Aquaman, in the solo movie. You gonna find out why he is the way that he is, and why he’s wandered so far away.” While on the phone with EW, the actor is in the middle of a makeup session (“You’re in the midst of me getting fully tattooed”), but his exuberance is palpable when he describes the scope of director James Wan’s vision for Arthur’s solo journey. “You just get the time to understand who he is. That’s the beauty of the origin. You get to see where he grew up, how he was treated,” Momoa says. “There’s gonna be huge battle scenes underwater that feel like you’re in space!”
First up is Justice League, and some famous costars playing famous superpowered icons. But let’s get serious here: What was it like working with the trident? “Her name’s Bernadette,” Momoa says. We smell a spin-off!