How ‘Aquaman’ Director James Wan Will Wash the Silliness From Oceanic Hero

“It was a stroke of genius on Zack [Snyder’s] side in casting [Jason] Momoa,” director tells TheWrap

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James Wan, director of upcoming “Aquaman,” is aware that the DC character is considered a bit of a joke by comic book readers.

Since the ’70s, Aquaman’s been the butt of endless barbs, largely thanks to Hanna-Barbera’s TV cartoon “Super Friends,” which depicted him as a wholesome superhero who rides seahorses and talks to fish.

Wan credits Zack Snyder for doing away with the stigma by casting the brooding Jason Momoa to breathe fresh life into Aquaman, calling the decision “a stroke of genius.”

“Momoa is not a guy that you would go up to and make fun of,” Wan told TheWrap. “I really think you immediately remove any of the stigma of the character from the cartoons that we are familiar with.”

Momoa was cast by Snyder as Aquaman back in 2013. He first appeared in Snyder’s 2016 superhero mashup “Batman v Superman.” Before the character’s standalone project, slated for release in 2018, he’ll next appear in this fall’s “Justice League,” alongside Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Ezra Miller and Ray Fischer.

DC President Geoff Johns revitalized Aquaman in 2011 when he took over as writer of The New 52, a relaunch by DC Comics of its monthly comics.

Johns presented Aquaman as a hero fighting for respect among the community he serves and protects. What resulted was a fresh, occasionally humorous reintroduction in part because Johns used the perceived silliness of Aquaman as part of the character’s foundation.

“Having said that, I’m not completely unaware of the stigma,” Wan added. “If anything, I embrace it and being able to laugh at yourself and have fun at yourself is important and that’s something I am aware of as I make ‘Aquaman’ right now.”

“Aquaman” also stars Nicole Kidman, Amber Heard, Dolph Lundgren and Willem Dafoe. It opens Dec. 21, 2018.