Though the DCEU spent its early years as a saga led by Superman and Batman, the franchise is becoming gradually less reliant on such obvious big names, and the pattern continues with the upcoming solo debut of Aquaman. But as this cinematic universe heads into a future that reportedly includes quite a few names that the average filmgoer is currently oblivious to, actor Jason Momoa observes that the MCU took important strides several years ago in opening audiences up to lesser-known superheroes.
In an interview with The Toronto Sun, Momoa’s interviewer points out that for decades, DC movies would continuously fall back on the tried and tested leads of Batman and Superman, and in his responses, the actor singled out 2008’s Iron Man as a turning point.
“The only thing about it now is, people want more,” Momoa says. “They’ve heard those other stories, and there’s plenty more to tell, but they want new ones. When Batman v Superman came out and it introduced Wonder Woman, she came in and blew it open.
“I feel like Marvel, in its own right, has been blowing the door open with other new characters as well. I mean look what Iron Man did. That was amazing. Who knew what the hell Iron Man did? I definitely didn’t. I feel like I knew more about Aquaman, and I barely knew anything about Aquaman over Iron Man (laughs). Robert Downey just came in and destroyed it. So there are all these beautiful, modern mythologies that people get inspired by and it’s nice to see something different.”
While there’s only so much credit that you can give to the lead actor for a film’s success, Momoa certainly isn’t off the mark when he singles out Robert Downey Jr. as a key reason why audiences bought into Iron Man‘s lesser-known title character. The endearing cynicism of the star’s screen presence proved a refreshing change of pace from the relatively earnest superheroes we were used to seeing in films, while opening the door for further leads who broke from the genre’s old templates.
Jump to the present day, and the MCU is going deeper into the comics with upcoming works like The Eternals, while the DCEU is hoping to adapt the likes of Blue Beetle and Zatanna for the screen. Evidently, we’re in different times now, and we’ll find out if Arthur Curry can earn his place in a crowded genre when Aquaman hits theaters on December 21st.