Jason Momoa’s Aquaman Role Puts a Much Needed Spin on Hollywood’s Whitewashing

If you're missing Khal Drogo's fine self, fret not because Jason Momoa is slated to play Aquaman in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The former Game of Thrones actor, after denying "rumors" of the role himself, was finally confirmed for the role of the king of Atlanis. At Atlanta's Walker Stalker Con, Momoa spoke about how honored he is to be able to bring his Polynesian culture to the role of Aquaman, which will surely enrich the film. He explained,

The greatest thing for me is that Polynesians, our gods, Kahoali, Maui, all these water gods, so it’s really cool and a honor to be playing a [water] character. And there’s not too many brown superheroes, so I’m really looking forward to representing the Polynesians, the natives.

Momoa continued, speaking of his background and what it can bring it to the role of Aquaman:

My family are some of the greatest water men on earth. I’m not, but I’m going to go train with them. But it’s really an honor just being a Polynesian. And water is the most important thing in this world and we all know it.

Beyond his personal connection to the sea, Momoa being chosen for the role of Aquaman is progress in the overwhelmingly white world of comic book films, and especially exciting because Aquaman as a comic book character is blonde and white. It's a small step for the diversification not only of comic book films but for Hollywood in general, which still has blatant issues with whitewashing films.

I could give a laundry list of all the problematic white-ified films of late, but the most recent offender is Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings, a story about the Bible, literally in Egypt, and yet the whole damn cast is white. Don't get me wrong, I love Christian Bale, Aaron Paul, and Signourey Weaver, but Ridley, you're tripping if you expect us to believe that Christian Bale at all resembles Moses. MOSES. Which is why it's exciting that Momoa is taking the role of a white superhero. After all, a superhero isn't a historical figure (like Moses) who existed in the real world, so he can be portrayed by multiple races. I just hope that they don't make Momoa wear a blonde wig, which would be a travesty to his fabulous raven hair and beard.

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Comic book film adaptations are often guilty of replacing characters of color with white actors on the big screen. One of the most well-known cases of this whitewashing is the character of Ra's al Ghul, the notorious Batman villain portrayed in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy by Liam Neeson. Neeson does do a bang-up job, but Ghul is distincly Middle Eastern, whereas Neeson is super Irish. I'm excited for Momoa and glad that he wants to consciously create the image of Aquaman as a brown superhero, not just as a brown man playing a white one.

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