Translating comic book characters into the medium of film is a challenging task. There are lots of ideas and qualities that work better on the page than they do on the screen. While some fans demand comic accuracy in every adaptation, it can be risky to stay faithful to the source material.
Aquaman‘s source material is an example of a comic property that could have easily been a big-screen blunder. Yet, DCEU‘s Aquaman film managed to find a great balance between staying true to the comics and telling a new story.
10 Comics Accurate: Origin
In the comics, Aquaman’s origin paints the picture of a man caught between two worlds. He is the son of a lighthouse keeper and an Atlantean Queen. While some variations have been made to this story throughout the decades, the bulk of this origin story remains the same.
The Aquaman movie is especially faithful to the New 52 retelling of the hero’s origin. This was the most recent version of Aquaman prior to the film, so it was a wise decision to keep it mostly unchanged.
9 Not Accurate: Trained By Vulko
The version of Aquaman’s origin that takes place in the movie does make one small variation, however. In the film, Aquaman is trained in combat by Vulko (played by a digitally de-aged Willem Dafoe), whereas in the comics, Aquaman is trained by Dr. Shin.
It’s a small difference and an overall insignificant one. Being trained by Vulko ties Aquaman’s youth more closely to his Atlantean roots, so it works in that sense.
8 Comics Accurate: Bulletproof
There’s more than a few bulletproof members of the Justice League, and Aquaman is among them. Aquaman’s Atlantean genes grant him with bullet immunity in the comics, a quality which is shared by Jason Momoa’s Aquaman.
This moment pictured above, from the New 52 Aquaman comics, takes place in almost the exact same way in the DCEU movie. The only difference is that Aquaman is shirtless when it happens in the movie—because somehow Momoa looks even more heroic without his costume.
7 Not Accurate: Boisterous Personality
One of the first appearances of Momoa’s Aquaman characterizes him as a reckless and rowdy pub-goer. Momoa’s Aquaman is more boisterous than the comics version, but this isn’t a negative quality.
The regal, reserved king of Atlantis from the comics can be kind of a bore to read. Momoa’s performance is a lot more energetic and less withheld, which makes for a much more entertaining screen presence.
6 Comics Accurate: Costume
Momoa’s Aquaman has already sported a couple of different looks. His darker, more armored look from Justice League took some creative liberty, which is fine. However, in his solo movie Aquaman sport his classic gold and green threads.
This is an example of why the Aquaman books are a risk to adapt faithfully. His costume doesn’t exactly look great even on the page. Yet, with the help of some extremely talented costume designers, the film manages to pull off a great-looking comics accurate costume.
5 Not Accurate: Dark Hair
Pretty much every iteration of Aquaman in the comics has a head of golden hair. The classic surfer boy with fair skin and hair is a staple of Aquaman’s look. But it isn’t necessarily the best.
Momoa’s darker haired Aquaman is a bold choice, but it works extremely well. Being of Hawaiian descent really suits the seafaring superhero. It makes sense that Aquaman would look like someone who comes from a tropical island.
4 Comic Accurate: Rugged Look
Aquaman hasn’t always a clean-cut boy scout. Peter David’s run on the character had him as a much more rugged hero than ever before. He sported long hair, a beard, and even a harpoon for a hand. This was a much gloomier interpretation of the character.
Momoa’s Aquaman clearly takes inspiration from the rugged ’90s version. With a bear, long hair, and tattoos, he too appears more rugged than the typical Aquaman designs. Thanks to Momoa’s success, it appears that the rugged Aquaman has made a comics comeback as well.
3 Not Accurate: Reluctant King
In the comics, Aquaman has always accepted his role as The King of Atlantis. He maintains his regal attitude and responsibility for his people, never questioning his position.
The film’s version of Aquaman is a much more reluctant king. He isn’t eager to take on the responsibility of ruling over the kingdom. The movie’s version makes for a much more interesting narrative arc, one where Aquaman has to learn to accept his calling. Perhaps the sequel to Aquaman will feature a version of the character who is more comfortable as King.
2 Comics Accurate: Telepathic Fish Communication
One of the more maligned of Aquaman’s powerset, his ability to communicate telepathically with fish, makes a prominent appearance in the DCEU film. Being able to talk to fish could have been ridiculous on the big screen, but it was done in a tasteful and believable way.
Momoa’s Aquaman essentially has all of the abilities of the comics version, even the sillier ones. The film manages to balance having some outlandish ideas from the comics with a more plausible tone.
1 Not Accurate: Aquaman Isn’t The Only Telepath
Momoa’s Aquaman is the only Atlantean who can communicate telepathically with sea life, whereas in the comics, this ability is inherent to all Atlanteans. In the film, Aquaman’s unique ability is what proves that he is the rightful King of Atlantis, so this change does have a specific plot function.
It’s a small change to make, but it does cement Aquaman as unique compared to any other Atlantean. It works for the purpose of the film, as do most of the other changes from the comics version of the character.
Jason Momoa's Aquaman has been mostly accepted by fans, but while the character is comic-accurate in some aspects, he isn't in others.