Before he was Arthur Curry, he was aiming to be Batman — although to hear Jason Momoa tell it, he was playing with house money when he showed up for a no-holds-barred audition to become the next Caped Crusader ahead of 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Speaking with Fox Chicago for a recent interview, the Aquaman star said BvS director Zack Snyder saw something raw and refreshing in his Dark Knight tryout, and made a mental note of it for Justice League (and beyond), before ultimately handing the BvS Batman role over to Ben Affleck. Incidentally, Momoa also revealed in a separate interview that Snyder's version of Justice League had been scripted to end with a defnite setup for Aquaman, with Mera (Amber Heard) and Vulko (Willem Dafoe) warning Arthur that "a force" is coming — essentially segueing directly into Aquaman's first action.
Momoa’s Batman comments begin just past the one-minute mark below:
“[I]t was a big casting call, so I knew a lot of people were going to be doing it — and I just felt like it was a booby trap, and I didn’t want to do it,” Momoa said of his reluctant BvS audition, which his agent had to goad him to follow through with.
“I just pretended that Batman got killed in an alleyway, and I picked it up and tried to play him like I was just down and out — poor, over it, just done wrong, and he wasn’t afraid to punch even good people in the face... But also, like, flawed, like the kind of person who would jump off the cliff and figure out on the way down, what we’re gonna do — that kind of guy.”
While Momoa’s let-it-rip version of Bruce Wayne didn’t land him the Dawn of Justice part, his swashbuckling take and overall vibe sold Snyder on the idea that he might’ve just landed on a franchise-worthy new addition to the DC Extended Universe.
"I got called in again probably two, three weeks later," he recalls, "and that’s when Zack laid it down and said, ‘I want you to play Aquaman,’” — an against-type casting vision that Momoa said took some additional explaining from Snyder. But, Momoa added, “when he told me his vision, what he wanted to do with the tattoos, someone who comes from, being... half-white, half-Polynesian... it made sense.”
With Aquaman poised to saturate the box office soon, redefining Arthur Curry for the movies may end up proving a more durable casting move than turning Momoa loose in Gotham ever could. We’ll know soon: Aquaman washes ashore in theaters nationwide beginning Dec. 15 with select Amazon screenings, before officially opening on Dec. 21.