Jason Momoa talks Justice League

The star who plays Aquaman in new flick Justice League spills the beans

Jason Momoa talks Justice League

Spoiler alert! At the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the Man of Steel ends up dead. Even if you watched the movie, that might have slipped your mind, such was the borefest that was supposed to kickstart the DC Universe. Wonder Woman’s appearance was the real highlight of the film, and the character’s subsequent standalone movie proved a huge hit.

With that in mind, director Zack Snyder’s Justice League, essentially DC’s answer to Marvel’s Avengers franchise, looks like it could be thje smash that the studio is hoping for, and by the look of these pictures, Superman is no longer dead.

Henry Cavil is back in the role, alongside Ben Affleck’s Batman, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, Ezra Miller’s Flash and Ray Miller’s Cyborg. Oh, and Jason Momoa, who played Khal Drago in Game of Thrones, as Aquaman. Here, he spills the beans on the movie.

Did you feel any pressure bringing an iconic comic book character to life?
When Zack first approached me, he wanted me to read for Batman but Ben [Affleck] had already been cast in the role by that point. So, I knew something fishy was going on and just read the lines with a lot of attitude, like I didn’t care what was on the page. Zack said, “Do you know who I want you to play?” I said, “Oh, yeah, I’ll be a villain or some bad dude who comes in and fights Batman – sounds like fun.” He said, “I want you to play Aquaman.”

So, I was just standing there, kind of in shock. All I could think of was the traditional Aquaman from the comics – who is white and blond and wears the orange and green costume. I thought he had to be joking, but Zack had this look on his face. He said he wanted the Aquaman in this film to be an outsider, along the lines of Clint Eastwood’s character in The Outlaw Josey Wales.

I was born in Hawaii and raised in Iowa, and basically grew up an outsider, so I could definitely identify with that. I also liked that he is a half-breed – half-Atlantean and half-human – and was really interested in the idea of him being this brown-skinned superhero who is part of two worlds but doesn’t belong to either one. I think that’s pretty special.

With me being Hawaiian, Aquaman’s mythology also resonated with me because we have water characters in our culture. It feels like such an honour to play this guy.

Were you a comic book fan growing up?
Absolutely. I read a lot of different comics when I was a kid and loved Batman and superhero movies in general. When Tim Burton’s Batman came out, it just blew my mind; I was amazed by that film. But I hadn’t read a lot of Justice League prior to this, so I did my research. I also had the opportunity to meet with [producer] Geoff Johns, and he’s just a wealth of knowledge about Aquaman and the entire DC universe.

Were there any challenges playing Aquaman? It can’t have been all fun.
Zack encouraged all of us to bring our own personalities to the characters, and that was really interesting. I’ve never played anyone like Arthur [Curry, Aquaman’s alias] before – someone who’s defiant and an outcast and a rascal and that was a lot of fun.

The biggest challenge was knowing that we’re only seeing a glimpse of this epic journey that Arthur goes on to find his place in the world and become the great warrior and king that he is. When we meet him in Justice League, he’s this gruff, surly rebel, but we don’t know what this kid went through to get that way or who he’s going to become. We find him in a little fishing village in Iceland, among these villagers who are on the absolute fringe of society. They kind of revere him because when fish aren’t around or supply lines are cut off, he helps them. They never asked for it, he’s just taking it upon himself to protect these people and provide for them.

So, when Bruce Wayne shows up looking for Aquaman, they’re reluctant to give him up. Bruce figures it out, of course, but Arthur makes it clear that he has no interest in helping Batman or anyone else. He just wants to be left alone. It’s only later, when he realises that the world really is at stake – not just the over the land, but under the oceans as well – that he knows he has to become a man and do his part, and as he explores his powers and begins to understand who he is, only then does he start to actually start to believe in himself.

It’s a fantastic cast. What was it like the first time you were all together on set?
I played it cool, but I was totally geeking out on the inside. We really loved being on this journey together, and always wanted to see each other on set. Whether it was doing team-building scenes or these ambitious, complicated stunt sequences, we’d always support each other and try to make each other laugh; it was a joy.

One of the great things about having these actors in these roles is that they’re all just so perfectly cast. Batman is my favorite character, and when I first saw Ben Affleck in that cape and cowl, it was so cool. He’s an amazing Batman and Gal Gadot is the perfect Wonder Woman. She is unbelievable and that movie was unbelievable. She’s just this powerful presence, but so warm and absolutely stunning. I can’t think of a better choice for The Flash than Ezra; so intelligent, so witty and just a beautiful creature. And then there’s Ray as Cyborg, and, to me, he has the hardest role – to play this half-man, half-machine – and yet he brought so much humanity and gravity to it.

On set, we really had to use our imaginations to picture Ray as Cyborg. We’d all be in our costumes, and Ray would be in these polka-dot pyjamas for the effects. We had a lot of fun with him about that. But Ray is obviously an amazing actor, and we had a great time playing the dynamic between the two characters. Arthur doesn’t trust him at all, and they’re at each other’s throats a lot of the time, but then they become brothers.

As for my character, I don’t mind saying that I’m probably the greatest Aquaman that’s ever lived. There’s not exactly a lot of competition, so in that sense, it’s cool not be Batman [laughs]. But it’s great to get to set the tone for this character on screen, and I’m interested to see what fans think of this Aquaman. It’s definitely not how they’re used to seeing him in the comics, but hopefully it will be true to the Aquaman they know.

You’ve filmed Aquaman’s solo movie with James Wan, what’s that going to be like?
The cool thing about Aquaman is that it’s an origin story, and where we start and where we end up is just going to be amazing. It really is a beautiful movie, and I feel really lucky to be part of it. James [Wan, director] is fantastic to work with. We’ve never seen an epic adventure under the ocean like this, and we haven’t seen an undersea world like the one we created. I’m already excited to watch it with my children, and for other kids to see it. My son plays with Batman non-stop and it’ll be cool to see what he thinks now that there are Aquaman action figures. I haven’t made too many movies that my children can watch, so I’m really looking forward to that.

Why do you think superheroes continue to be so popular, generation after generation?
I think having heroes who are so aspirational really helps people overcome adversities in their own lives. They help us believe in ourselves, and all of us need that. We all need to be inspired, and these characters teach us that we, too, can be heroes. We can help others, and try to make this world we live in a better place.

Justice League is in cinemas across the UAE from November 16.

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