Jason Momoa specifically requested Temuera Morrison for the role of Arthur's father, Tom. Morrison is one of Momoa's acting idols.
During the duel between Arthur and Orm, an octopus plays a drum solo. According to director James Wan, this octopus is Topo, Aquaman's octopus sidekick from the 1950s-60s. Wan was initially unsure about putting Topo in the film, but was inspired to do so after watching Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), saying, "If that film could have a guy playing a flaming guitar, I'm going to have an octopus drummer in mine."
Nicole Kidman immediately accepted the role of Atlanna when director James Wan said that she could wear "Mother-of-Pearl and be a Mermaid Warrior."
Jason Momoa admitted to playing pranks on all of his fellow cast members during filming except for Nicole Kidman.
James Wan revealed he had a choice of choosing to direct between The Flash (centred on the Flash) and Aquaman, but chose Aquaman because he is the underdog.
Director James Wan cited the sea monster film Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) as an influence on the portrayal of the Trench monsters for this movie.
A number of underwater waterfalls are seen in the film. This is an actual phenomenon. The ocean is made up of two different layers of water: warm, light water and cold, dense water; the difference in densities means the layers are separate and causes the heavier cold water to fall, forming a waterfall.
Director James Wan confirmed that Atlanteans would not talk inside protective speech bubbles as portrayed by Zack Snyder in Justice League (2017). When asked about it, he said, "People are overthinking it. They're just gonna talk!"
When Arthur and Mera find their sea craft, the Annabelle doll from director James Wan's "Conjuring" horror films can be seen on the floor.
According to Amber Heard, the underwater scenes required cast members to be hosed down and then being filmed on a cold soundstage.
When Atlanna throws her trident at the TV, it's showing Stingray (1964), Gerry Anderson's British children's TV puppet underwater adventure series that featured an antagonist of the Fishmen, who similarly ruled an underwater domain in conflict the surface world.
Nicole Kidman was director James Wan's top choice for the role of Atlanna. They were previously set to work together on a remake of At the End of the Spectra (2006), but the film was scrapped. Kidman has been a long-time supporter of Wan's career and has publicly raved about his films Insidious (2010) and The Conjuring (2013), calling him "The New Master of Horror." She was also eager to join as filming took place in her home country of Australia.
Director James Wan believed that what makes Aquaman unique is his Atlantean heritage, saying, "We're used to superhero movies where the threat is from another dimension or aliens from another universe coming here and trying to destroy our Earth. But we haven't seen one where the main threat is from a massive, massive civilization that is right under our nose, in the ocean.... The idea that there could be a massive civilization living right underneath [us] that we don't know about is kind of scary and exciting."
Nicole Kidman attended her first Comic-Con in 2018 especially to promote this film.
King Ricou was named after Ricou Browning, a noted diver and underwater stuntman best known for portraying the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
In the movie, tridents are used only by those of royal blood from Atlantis: King Atlan, Atlanna, Orm, Arthur, Nereus, King Ricou and the Brine King. The trident is the traditional weapon of the Greek sea god Poseidon.
James Wan wanted Atlanteans to wear capes, but costume designer Kym Barrett pointed out that capes drag underwater. They settled on capes being worn only by members of Atlantean royalty.
Thomas Curry has a H.P. Lovecraft novel, "The Dunwich Horror" on his table. Lovecraft was a horror writer, whose Cthulhu novels involved man-eating fish people and tentacle creatures deep under the ocean.
Nicole Kidman, who plays Aquaman's mother Queen Atlanna, had declined the role of Queen Hippolyta in Wonder Woman (2017) (in the comics, Diana Prince/Wonder Woman was Aquaman's ally and sometimes love interest).
Director James Wan cited the adventure films Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Romancing the Stone (1984) as influences on this film.
Before its initial release in the United States, Aquaman surpassed every solo Marvel Cinematic Universe movie in the Chinese box office -- only seven days after its release.
Amber Heard declared in an interview on Good Morning America (1975) that she would read books between takes and that Jason Momoa would purposely rip out their pages so she would pay attention to him. Eventually, her reading material was kept in a special book bag made of "green screen" fabric, which allowed her to keep her books close even when filming special effects shots.
When Tom (Temuera Morrison) sees Atlanna eating a goldfish from his fish tank, he says, "I was going to cook you some eggs", a line from Morrison's film Once Were Warriors (1994).
Aquaman's suit was supposed to be a surprise in 2016. Instead, Zack Snyder released the photo of Momoa wearing the Aquaman suit in February 2015. Snyder called Momoa moments before its release to the world.
This film marked the fifth collaboration between director James Wan and actor Patrick Wilson, after Insidious (2010), The Conjuring (2013), Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013), and The Conjuring 2 (2016).
King Atlan's trident has Atlantean writing engraved on it. According to James Wan, it reads "Paul & Mort," referring to Aquaman creators Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger.
David Kane's first Manta helmet is based on the Golden Age Black Manta helmet, which was a conventional helmet with breathing apparatus connected.
ILM was the lead VFX vendor and worked on creating Atlantis and all its CG animals, the Karathen and the final battle of the film. Jeff White served as the VFX supervisor. For the underwater sequences, the actors were shot dry-for-wet on special tuning fork rigs designed by the FX team and later the bodies of the actors were replaced with digital doubles in post-production. For creating Atlantis the team relied on the designs provided by the art department. ILM's environment team created over 200 buildings, including the signature jellyfish buildings, and laid over 7000 buildings in districts covering almost 600 sq miles for the action to travel through. The underwater ships were modelled off organic creatures and designed to move that way. For the entrance to Atlantis sequence the team built over 150,000 ships to fill the traffic lanes leading into Atlantis. All the animals, including the Karathen, were built by ILM and animated using keyframe animation. Approximately 700 shots in the film required high detail hair simulations. ILM had to significantly improve their hair simulation software due to the unique aspects of hair flowing underwater. Normally hair simulations use guide strands to define or influence the movement of groups of hair strands. This did not provide a satisfying look for underwater simulation, so ultimately ILM simulated strands individually, which resulted in heavy computations. Additionally, Wan wanted to be able to direct the hair when the physically accurate simulation resulted in undesirable results. ILM delivered 670 shots for the film.
The backstory of Atlantis is very similar to the one in Atlantis: The Lost Empire, where Atlantis used to be a highly advanced civilization on the surface but its king's misguided attempt to weaponize an object caused the city to be sank into the sea. The king then sealed that object away so as not to let others use it in the wrong ways again.
This is the first DCEU film to be shot entirely with digital cameras. Nearly all previous installments were shot solely on 35mm (and partially 70mm IMAX film for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)).
In the film, Aquaman is brunet and Orm is blond, while in the DC comics, Aquaman was blond and Orm was a brunet.
Some Atlantean soldiers are seen riding giant seahorses. In Greek mythology, the sea god Poseidon drives a chariot pulled by seahorses (known in Greek mythology as the hippocampi).
None of the underwater scenes were actually filmed underwater. Instead, methods of rigging the actors into harnesses, along with extensive CG work (sometimes even including their hair), were applied to make them appear floating/submerged.
The film's working title was "Ahab," the name of an anti-heroic sea captain in Herman Melville's classic story "Moby Dick."
The Fishermen tribe were created through a combination of make-up (for the top half, the upper torso) and computer-generated imagery (for the bottom half, the tails).
Method Studios handled the Sicily fight sequence between Arthur, Mera and Black Manta; Arthur's encounter with the Karathen in the Well of the Souls and his acquisition of Atlan's Trident. For the Sicily fight sequence the team built the main square of the Italian village and terracotta tiled roof set pieces that were backed with blue screen. A completely CG village was also created based on scans and documentation of the real village. For the Well of the Souls sequence Momoa was filmed dry-for-wet and captured on set in rigs that simulated underwater movements, but they ultimately felt restrictive so artists replaced the majority of his performance with a digital body double and added the CG environment, Karathen and Arthur's free-flowing locks. A specially designed 700fps shot was used in the scene where the camera travels through Arthur's eyes.
King Nereus and Mera appear as father and daughter in the film, while they were unrelated and betrothed to marry in the New 52 comics.
Patrick Wilson describes Ocean Master Orm as an ecological terrorist: "He has a very clear gripe with the surface world, which has been polluting his oceans for centuries."
Jason Momoa grew up with the world of superheroes and has always been fascinated by Aquaman because he loves the underwater world and all the mysteries that can be found there.
Arthur and Orm are elder and younger brothers, but Patrick Wilson is five years older than Jason Momoa, while Nicole Kidman, who plays their mother, is seven years older than Wilson.
The Atlantean device in the Sahara bears the symbols of the Zodiac and the accompanying astronomical constellations.
Arthur rides a giant seahorse briefly in the final battle. This came from the opening credits of Aquaman (1967).
Thomas Curry keeps a pet dog, a golden retriever. In the comics Aquaman and Mera adopted a golden retriever whom they dubbed "Aquadog."
Mera has only one name in the comics, but here she is given the full name of Y'Mera Xebella Challa.
Aquaman's Atlantean name, Orin, isn't used for this setting, with him going by his birth name of Arthur Curry, which sticks even as he's crowned King of Atlantis.
Michael Beach who portrays Black Manta's father Jesse Kane, voiced Devil Ray (another name for Black Manta) in Justice League Unlimited (2004).
Most of the actors in this movie have starred as another character from DC/Marvel films. Patrick Wilson starred as Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl II from Watchmen, Willem Dafoe played Norman Osborn/Green Goblin from Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian in Batman Forever, Djimon Hounsou (King Ricou) as Korath from Guardians of the Galaxy and Papa Midnight from Constatine, Temuera Morrison (Thomas Curry) as Abin Sur from Green Lantern, Randall Park (Dr. Shin) as Jimmy Woo from Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Dolph Lundgren as Konstantin Kovar from the Arrow TV series as well as The Punisher. In addition, Graham McTavish, who portrayed King Atlan, also voiced Loki in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
David Kane (Black Manta) has a manta-shaped submarine. This was taken from the comics.
Ocean Master's real name, Orm, means "snake" in Swedish and "worm" in Danish and Norwegian. Marius is also a common name for boys in Norway.
Jay Barton served as the VFX supervisor for Digital Domain. They worked on creating the Dead King's Island environment. For the sequence, the actors were shot in a pool of water against blue screen backgrounds, with Digital Domain adding CG extensions, waterfalls, mountains and dinosaurs in post production. Most of the waterfalls that appear in the scene were created using Houdini while some were created using practical elements of things such as pouring salt and glass beads. They also built an extensive library of shot FX elements. The dinosaurs were animated using keyframe animation. Digital Domain delivered 19-20 shots for the movie.
With the release of Aquaman, The DC expanded universe crosses $4 billion at the worldwide box office, making it the first franchise to cross the milestone with fewer movies -- six movies as of 2018.
Leigh Whannell, James Wan's collaborator going back to the original Saw movie, makes a cameo as the cargo plane pilot.
Scanline VFX delivered 450 shots for the movie. Bryan Hirota served as VFX supervisor for scanline. The main sequences produced by them are: the lighthouse and it's surrounding environment, the "Aquaman" title card that follows the Boston aquarium, Aquaman pushing the submarine to the surface and rescuing the sailors inside, Orm's tidal wave that sweeps away Arthur and Tom, including the rescue and aftermath, Black Manta being paid by Orm for the submarine's delivery, and Arthur and Mera's visit to the Kingdom of the Trench. For the creation of the film's title card the team relied on Rodeo's work on the aquarium sequence and simulated up to 60,000 fish. The tidal wave sequence was realized with a large-scale simulated wave, which was integrated with a combination of day for night footage, blue screen shots for the actors in truck interiors, a truck on a rotisserie rig, an interior cabin in a water tank, and VFX simulations for debris. For creating the lighthouse a full-size house with the base of the lighthouse tower was constructed by the FX team. Additional house and dock sets were built on sound stages. A digital build-out was done to complete the lighthouse tower and extend the dock fully out into sea. For the sequence where the camera pushes into a toy snow globe with a tiny lighthouse inside, a CG transition was created from the lighthouse's living room set to a fully CG winter coastline.
According to James Wan, the scene where Arthur and Mera emerge from the ocean in slow-motion to Pitbull's song "Ocean to Ocean" is a tribute to Wan's previous film Furious 7 (2015).
Principal photography began in Australia on May 2, 2017. Most of the film was shot at Village Roadshow Studios in Gold Coast, Queensland, with production also held in Canada, Italy and Morocco, and wrapped on October 21, 2017.
Arthur/Aquaman gets injured on his pectoralis major, at the same place as Khal Drogo. When he wakes up on the fishing boat, his hair is pulled back and he has seaweed dressings over his injuries, like Drogo again.
Altogether there are 2,300 visual effects shots in the movie completed by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Rodeo FX, Scanline VFX, DNEG, Moving Picture Company (MPC), Method Studios, Digital Domain and Weta Digital. The visual effects for the director's cut of the film were created at the same time as the theatrical cut.
Rodeo FX worked on two key sequences for the film, with Sebastien Moreau leading as VFX Supervisor for the film. For the aquarium that young Arthur Curry visits near the beginning of the film, Rodeo FX used a large volume of simulations as well as algorithms for the fish behavior. They created hard and soft corals by developing a colonization growth system, along with procedural stem and tentacle generation tools. They also created the environments for the Atlantis ruins below the desert. Artists used a lego-type approach to layer the environment with a large amount of sand, dust and rocks, all of which would realistically give way to the characters' interactions. From there, they sculpted ruined buildings, bridges, towers, statues and temples, which were textured and shaded to add depth to the ruined city.
Michael Kenneth Williams and Michael Jai White expressed interest in playing Black Manta.
Peter Safran and James Wan made a concept video of Aquaman and Mera fighting the Trench and showed it to Warner Brothers. The studio was impressed with the video and Safran feels it got the film produced.
Black Manta is given the name David Kane while in the comics his last name is Hyde.
The Fishermen are the comicbook Tritonians given the name of an obscure Aquaman villain from the comics.
Jason Momoa was surprised to be cast as Aquaman because the character in the comics is a blond-haired Caucasian man who actually looks a lot like his co-star Patrick Wilson. Zack Snyder wanted to break the barrier of not having any mixed-race heroes in the DC Universe's films and knew that Momoa was the only choice to play Aquaman.
Thomas, being a lighthouse keeper (with a broken television) has time to be well read. He likens Atlanna's story to King Arthur and chooses that name for his son. He also sees that Arthur gets education from the land beyond what is taught in school. This foreshadows both the Pinocchio thing and his knowledge of ancient Roman kings.
The scene of Arthur attempting to outdrive the tsunami is similar to the scene from Ponyo.
Jason Momoa previously starred in the TV show Stargate: Atlantis (2004). Michael Beach also starred in that show in a minor role.
A longtime rebuttal to Aquaman's perceived lameness is that he could command Cthulhu if the two were in the same setting. This movie includes a Kaiju with tentacles dwelling in a lost underwater city, who ends up helping Arthur in great part because he's the only one that managed to converse with it.
This is John Rhys-Davies's fifth comic-book role after The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989) (Wilson Fisk), Batman: The Animated Series: The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy (1992) (Baron Waclaw Jozek), Fantastic Four: The Animated Series (1994) (Thor), and Justice League (2001) (Hades).
Additionally, DNEG worked on digitally de-ageing Willem Dafoe for the scene where his character Nudris Vulko trains the young Arthur Curry.
Djimon Hounsou has appeared in the DC extended universe as King Ricou in Aquaman, as the titular wizard in Shazam and also in Constantine as Midnite. In the Marvel Movie Universe Djimon was Korath in both Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel. He also voiced T'Challa in the animated version of Black Panther.
Mera falls into a wine shop and uses her powers to create a wall of blood-red wine to impale the attacking guards, her screaming and the camera angles evoking a number of horror films like Carrie.
Mera using her water power to save a drowning Thomas is remarkably similar to a scene in Avatar: The Last Airbender when Katara uses waterbending to save a drowning Aang.
First DCEU movie to cross a billion dollars at the worldwide box office and the first DC comics movie to cross a billion since The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
Mera's red hair and green outfit pay homage to Ariel (though Mera precedes the Disney character), as well as her interest in the surface world's items and her innocent misunderstanding of how things work.
Atlanna eating a pet goldfish, and then Mera eating a rose from a bouquet, both due to cultural misunderstandings since they're both Fish out of Water, bring to mind the scene of Madison eating a lobster in Splash (1984).
The scene of Mera using Arthur's sweat to activate the message from King Atlan is extremely reminiscent of a scene from a certain other movie involving an ancient relic upon a pedestal being activated by someone's sweat (The Fifth Element).
This is the third comic-book feature for actors Temuera Morrison (after Green Lantern (2011) and Barb Wire (1996)), Dolph Lundgren (after The Punisher (1989) and Arrow (2012)), and Willem Dafoe (after Spider-Man (2002) and Death Note (2017)).
On the submarine at the beginning, Arthur uses a broken off hatch lid in a very Captain America manner.
In another possible shout-out to one of Wan's own films, the wrist mounted blade on Black Manta's suit is very similar to the one Jigsaw uses in the first Saw film.
After appearing as Jimmy Woo in Ant-man and the Wasp, Actor Randall Park appears in Aquaman as Dr. Stephan Shin. Though the film takes Inspiration from New 52 Comics run, Dr. Shin's character had been changed/improvised for the film.
Just like Wonder Woman, Aquaman draws inspiration from both the New 52 and Golden and Silver Age comics. The story of Arthur and Orm fighting over the throne is lifted from the Throne of Atlantis storyline and its animated adaptation. Arthur himself is based on primarily on his down-to-earth hero like in New 52 with a few OUTRAGEOUS! characteristics pertaining of his Batman: The Brave and the Bold counterpart. He wears his traditional orange and green costume though his long hair and beard recall his Justice League incarnation. Black Manta's costume has both the exaggerated proportions of his classic look and the more tactical design akin to his appearance in Young Justice.
When Arthur wakes up on the boat that Mera "borrowed," he is lying on his back, with his hair in a tight bun and beard wet, (and appearing closely trimmed), bringing shades of Khal Drogo, even sporting a wound in the same place as the "scratch" that ultimately felled Drogo.
This is Patrick Wilson's second role in a DC Extended Universe film. He previously portrayed the President of the United States in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).
In Thomas Curry's house, on the table is a H.P. Lovecraft novel, "The Dunwich Horror." Dunwich was a large town in the county of Suffolk, England, which was lost to the sea in 1278 during a great storm.
This is Graham McTavish's sixth comic-book role, after Loki (Marvel animated features), Sebastian Shaw (Wolverine and the X-Men (2008)), Savanti Romero (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012)), Fergus McDuck (DuckTales (2017)), and the Saint of Killers (Preacher (2016)).
Atlanna vomits up water once she comes to in Thomas's house, foreshadowing Mera incapacitating Orm by sticking him into an air bubble and also forcing him to expunge water from his lungs.
The vortex that Arthur and Mera flee into to escape the Trench and enter the Hidden Sea is like the storm clouds that conceal the Castle in the Sky.
Kurt Johnstad and David Leslie Johnson worked on the script before being replaced by Will Beal.
Jason Momoa appeared in Baywatch (1989), and his co-star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II starred in Baywatch (2017).
It is the third live-action theatrical film featuring Aquaman, following Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017), and the first full-length feature film centered around the character.
Patrick Wilson and Michael Beach have worked together in Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013) which James Wan directed.
Willem Dafoe and Temuera Morrison previously worked together in Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997).
Patrick Wilson (King Orm) is the fourth actor from Watchmen (2009) to appear in the DC Extended Universe, after Carla Gugino (Kelor in Man of Steel (2013)), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Thomas Wayne in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)), and Billy Crudup (Henry Allen in Justice League (2017)). Before being adapted to film, "Watchmen" was also a comic book series published by DC Comics.
At the beginning of the film, Arthur goes bare-chested; this was Aquaman's attire in the 1990s.