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Animated Aquaman coming to HBO Max - plus Green Lantern details & more

By Benjamin Bullard & Tara Bennett
A DC Comics image of Aquaman

A veritable typhoon of quick-hit news blew through the WarnerMedia portion of the Television Critics Association press tour, Wednesday, as HBO Max unleashed a whirlwind of information about projects both old and brand-spankin’ new, including a three-part Aquaman animated series from James Wan that’ll be making landfall on the soon-to-debut streaming platform.

HBO Max served up a press release ahead of today’s tour of upcoming projects to unveil Aquaman: King of Atlantis, a three-installment mini-series executive produced by Wan through his Atomic Monster production company, and featuring the iconic characters of his 2018 blockbuster movie as well as the DC comic books.

Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, Aquaman: King of Atlantis “begins with Aquaman’s first day on the job as king of Atlantis and he’s got a LOT of catching up to do,” HBO Max teased in the release. “Luckily, he has his two royal advisors to back him up – Vulko, the scholar, and Mera, the water controlling warrior-princess.” 

Based on the classic DC Aquaman character created by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris, each episode “will have a unique storyline following the adventures of Aquaman as protector of the deep,” according to HBO Max. “Between dealing with unscrupulous surface dwellers, elder evils from beyond time and his own half-brother who wants to overthrow him, Aquaman is going to have to rise to the challenge and prove to his subjects, and to himself, that he’s the right man for the trident!”

Victor Courtright (ThunderCats Roar!) and Marly Halpern-Graser (Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) will serve as showrunners and co-executive producers on the mini-series. There’s no early word, though, on when Arthur Curry will swim ashore on the new streaming service, so keep those tridents polished as we await the platform’s arrival.

With SYFY WIRE in attendance at today's press tour, Sarah Aubrey, head of original content at HBO Max, shared a small update on the upcoming Green Lantern series from DC mastermind Greg Berlanti. The platform- exclusive show “will span several decades and focus on origin stories of two Green Lanterns on Earth,” she said from the stage, while also teasing the appearance of disgraced Green Lantern Corps baddie Sinestro, founder of the Sinestro Corps and the archenemy of Hal Jordan (aka Green Lantern). 

With nearly eight years separating us from our last fling with Green Lantern in Ryan Reynolds’ meme-ably forgettable 2011 movie, we’re practically glowing with anticipation for another go at one of DC’s biggest names. There’s still no news on casting or a premiere date, so for now we’re content to bask in the few new details HBO Max illuminated today.

Raised by Wolves, Ridley Scott’s still-mysterious turn toward directing for the small screen, also got a slight update at today’s tour, with HBO Max chief content officer Kevin Reilly revealing that Scott asked for — and received — the green light to fashion the first two episodes of the series into what essentially amounts to a two-part, feature-length movie. Reilly said at today's TCA event that Scott himself “shot the first two episodes” in the spacey tale of androids who struggle to understand the human children they’re tasked with raising in far-flung galactic colonies.

Originally slated to appear at TNT, Raised by Wolves made the switch to HBO Max late last year and stars Vikings alum Travis Fimmel as Marcus, an ex-soldier with a troubled past. Rounding out the cast are Amanda Collin, Abubakar Salim, Winta McGrath, Niamh Algar, Felix Jamieson, Ethan Hazzard, Jordan Loughran, Aasiya Shah, and Ivy Wong. We’re still not sure when the 10-episode series will arrive, so stay tuned.

Coming back down to terra firma, HBO Max also revealed that it’s given the go-ahead to an anthology series titled The Uninhabitable Earth, from versatile Oscar and Emmy-winning writer/director/producer Adam McKay (Anchorman, The Big Short). Comparing the three-episode anthology to Netflix’s Black Mirror in its dystopian tone, Reilly said at Wednesday’s event that The Uninhabitable Earth will “look at what will happen with the results of climate change,” and teased a 2021 premiere date. 

Via a press release, HBO Max added that the series will take a dark, fictionalized look at “stories covering a wide range of genres and possible futures that could result from the rapid warming of our planet.” 

“I’ve been chomping at the bit to get this show going,” said McKay in the same release. “I’m very happy that HBO Max stepped up and made the commitment. There’s obviously no subject as vast and daunting.” The series takes its inspiration from last year’s New York Times bestseller of the same name from author David Wallace-Wells.

Finally, Reilly touched on the future of the constellation of media platforms that, under the WarnerMedia umbrella, may jostle for attention as HBO Max enters the streaming fray alongside WarnerMedia stablemates like DC Universe and the Boomerang animation network.

As it enters its second year, DC Universe is “evolving right now,” said Reilly from the stage. “It’s a deep fan experience we plan to keep going for now…We have to figure out the two subscriptions [HBO Max and DC Universe]. We hope to honor the fans. I hope we handle it delicately.” Some animated fare may end up finding a home on HBO Max, he added, but stressed that “Boomerang will remain a separate service — similar to DCU, [for] superfans who want classic cartoons.”

If nothing else, we won’t lack for options when it comes to everything from Arthur Curry and Harley Quinn to Looney Tunes and Scooby-Doo. HBO Max doesn’t have a hard premiere date, but WarnerMedia is pledging in its press releases that the premium platform will arrive sometime “in spring 2020.”