Warner Bros. and DC’s “Aquaman” made a splashy debut on the biggest stage in pop culture Saturday at Comic-Con, where the first glimpse of star Jason Momoa shirtless in a newly premiered trailer drew screams so loud that they drowned out the superhero’s dialogue.
Fans lined up overnight outside the 6,500-capacity Hall H to preview the Dec. 21 DC Universe standalone film, which explores the origins of the “Justice League” teammate — the half-human, half-Atlantean hero Arthur Curry — as he becomes embroiled in a war between his two worlds.
Director James Wan, joined by stars Momoa, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen and Patrick Wilson, debuted an action-packed first trailer to a huge audience response. Fans cheered at expansive underwater battle scenes, at glimpses of nemesis Black Manta in his high-tech suit with glowing red eyes, and at Momoa’s tattooed — and shirtless — rock star charisma.
Kidman, in her maiden voyage to Comic-Con, fondly remembered filming her first scenes as Aquaman’s mother, Queen Atlanna.
“I was so lucky because I got to lie on a rock,” she said of her character’s onscreen introduction, which required the actress to be pummeled relentlessly with water.
Abdul-Mateen revealed that he’d kept a huge secret up until the “Aquaman” shoot: He didn’t know how to swim. “I secretly learned and taught myself how to swim during the mornings and the evenings,” he laughed of his covert sessions spent in the hotel pool.
“I also don’t really like to swim,” added Heard, who as fearless Atlantean warrioress Mera spent a lot of time in stunt harnesses, but frequently had to be wetted-down by costumers for her scenes. “Beach is fine. The ocean? No interest. So, of course, I got cast in ‘Aquaman’ … I’d be hosed down, every morning. Grown [...] woman, here at work, getting hosed down.”
For all his cool, long-tressed onscreen swagger, Momoa revealed that his costumes didn’t quite wear well when his character had to appear wet — which, in an “Aquaman” movie, was often. “You’re in armor or you’re half-naked in tattoos and it was a bad choice looking back to wear denim. They look like leather pants, but they’re not,” he said, mimicking Wan’s on-set commands: “‘Do it cooler!’”
“Bro, I did tell you to take your pants off,” Wan answered.
Headlining a busy Warner Bros. panel that included previews of “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” “LEGO Movie 2,” “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” the “Aquaman” crew delivered not one, but two footage previews for the Comic-Con crowd.
After watching the first “Aquaman” trailer, which was subsequently released online, Wilson, who plays Aquaman’s half brother and rival, raved about their director. “This guy understands story and character more than any guy that I know,” he said of Wan, with whom he previously worked on the hit “Insidious” and “Conjuring” horror movies. “You guys are going to be so thrilled with us pushing the envelope.”
Wan surprised fans with a second extended reel, exclusively for those in Hall H. The footage for Comic-Con eyes only was filled with even more underwater and desert-set action, banter between Momoa’s Aquaman and Heard’s flame-haired Mera, an above-ground rooftop chase in which the two heroes are hunted by Black Manta and a glimpse of a trident-wielding Kidman fighting in action hero mode.
The money shot seen only by those in Hall H and making those long lines worth the wait was the climactic reveal of Momoa, wearing his iconic gold and green Aquaman suit, trident in hand.