Everyone is talking about Jason Momoa’s turn in James Wan’s “Aquaman” movie for Warner Bros. But the DC Comics character has a long and convoluted history, having changed origin stories and appearances through the character’s 77 years of existence. Here is a timeline of the King of Atlantis:
Golden Age Aquaman
Writer Mort Meisinger and artist Paul Norris created the first version of Aquaman for 1941’s “More Fun Comics” # 73 for what was then National Publications. The original version was human, not Atlantean at all.
Silver Age Aquaman
The Half-Atlantean, half-human back story of Aquaman–and his Arthur Curry name–emerged with the Silver Age reboot of the character in “Adventure Comics” # 260 in 1959 for what was named DC Comics. This is the definitive back story for the King of Atlantis for the ages.
Most of the mainstream audience really got to know Aquaman–and his somewhat goofily presented undersea powers–with the character’s appearance on the Hanna-Barbera animated show “Super Friends” and its sequels.
Blue camouflage Aquaman
Writer Neal Pozner took the first of several swings at revising Aquaman in 1986 by giving him a more mystical back story and this very eye-catching blue camouflage costume in “Aquaman” # 1 (1986).
Writer Peter David gave Aquaman the most radical redesign in 1994’s “Aquaman” # 1 by turning him into a fierce one-handed warrior. Aquaman lost his hand while battling Charybdis and replaced it with a literal harpoon. He would later grow his beard and wear armor, replacing the harpoon with a more high-tech version.
Justice League Unlimited Aquaman
The iconic “Justice League” (later “Justice League Unlimited”) TV series featured an animated version of the harpoon-handed Aquaman. This was probably the most spot-on adaptation of the character in an animated form.
The first-ever live-action appearance of Aquaman came on the “Smallville” TV show with actor Justin Harley playing him. This appearance was so successful that an “Aquaman” TV pilot was actually made in 2006, but it was not picked.
OK, so this is an ironic reference but hear us out. In 2005, the HBO TV show “Entourage” entered its third season and lead Adrian Grenier playing fictional star actor Vince Chase appeared in a big screen “Aquaman” movie on the show. This movie, which was never shown, was such a success it allowed Grenier to pick his next projects, a path that ultimately proves problematic. So we never really saw Grenier as Aquaman, but one can imagine, right?
There have been many takes on Aquaman in the comics recently, with him being dead, then undead, then alive again. The most lasting effects were those delivered by writer Geoff Johns, from whom the movie “Aquaman” takes many of its cues.
Jason Momoa is now the definitive Aquaman moving forward thanks to director James Wan’s take on him. This is Momoa’s third appearance as Aquaman, the other two being 2016’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and 2017’s “Justice League.” This is his best one so far. Expect a sequel soon.
Warner Bros.’ “Aquaman” is now showing in cinemas.