When it comes to the future of the DC Extended Universe, all eyes are on its 2017 releases: Wonder Woman hits in May, with Patty Jenkins exploring the World War I antics of Diana Prince, followed by Justice League in November, which will finally unite DC’s finest against Ciarán Hinds’ Steppenwolff. After that, however, it’s unclear where the series will go. Ben Affleck’s solo Batman movie has been the topic of much discussion, but the star himself has been rather vague on details, while The Flash recently suffered a big blow when it lost its director Rick Famuyiwa. And not much has been said about Shazam since Dwayne Johnson was cast as Black Adam way back in 2014.
The movie that looks the most certain, then, is Aquaman, which has experienced genre-hopper James Wan at the helm and looks to be steadily coming together. The film obviously stars Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry, who as Bruce Wayne succinctly said in the Justice League Comic-Con footage “can talk to fish.” Momoa will be joined by Amber Heard as Mera and Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko, fellow Atlantians who will make their big screen bow in Justice League. Little is known about how they’ll factor into the story, but the latter actor has recently suggested his part will be more than just a cameo.
Speaking to The Guardian while promoting Paul Schrader’s Dog Eat Dog, Dafoe was asked about his decision to join the DCEU and made some choice words about how important his role would be going forward:
“Well, Justice League is very particular because it’s an ensemble movie and my character is being introduced here in order to be a principal role in Aquaman. These films are a different experience. They have different responsibilities, different resources and different intentions. It’s nice to go between those worlds if you can. They serve different impulses.”
Dafoe’s character, Vulko, has been an Aquaman mainstay since the 1960s, starting out as Atlantis’ chief science advisor before evolving into one of the King’s closest friends and confidants. In the New 52 his role was adjusted slightly and expanded upon, providing a vast array of source to be plundered for the big screen. It’s still unclear what story exactly Wan’s film will tackle (although rumours suggest Black Manta will be the villain), but Dafoe’s comments suggest that he’ll factor in heavily, pointing to a very Atlantian-set adventure. The flipside of the comments are that it means Vulko won’t be in Justice League all that much; meaning the Ocean realm won’t be a major location in that film.
The quote also sheds a little light on why Dafoe took the role in the first place. He may have played the snarling Green Goblin in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (a role he reprised for both sequels), but since then he’s altogether looked to be avoided blockbuster cinema, which made his casting in Justice League something of a surprise. His words suggest that the more playbox style of acting that a big budget movie allows drew him to the project – which, along with the payday it will naturally bring, makes perfect sense.