Willem Dafoe has explained the process of filming the underwater scenes for Aquaman. Even before Jason Momoa makes his true DC Extended Universe in Justice League, fans are already pleased with his rock ‘n roll approach to the King of Atlantis. The excitement has only heightened the interest in his solo film, which is good news as is it is the only DCEU film set to come out in 2018. If the early reactions to the character are any indication, Aquaman could be a big hit, and it could also be thanks to the environment it will work with.

Aquaman is set to take place primarily underwater, exploring the depths of the ocean and Arthur Curry’s standing among Atlanteans. In doing so, it will open up his own unique corner of the DCEU filled with brand new characters, all of whom live underwater. Director James Wan has said these effects are quite challenging technically, but thankfully Dafoe has filled us in on the process of filming these scenes.

Screen Crush spoke to Dafoe about the process of filming underwater scenes for Aquaman. Since Atlanteans can breathe and speak underwater, it would understandably be a difficult task to do the entire film practically. Instead, the water-filled world will be added in post-production – though Dafoe clarifies that the film’s production crew is not taking any shortcuts with their actual setups:

Most of my scenes are underwater. Some are not. So much of it, because we’re talking, and shooting underwater is a lot of ways impractical because you’re limited to what you can do with sets. It’s more about shooting them dry for wet, and then the effects do certain things to give the water feel. But we aren’t doing the scenes underwater, but we are in harnesses and on wires. There is movement. It’s not like were all sitting around pretending were underwater like this [stands up still], we’re swimming around, we’re moving. So that should be really beautiful.

No footage from Aquaman has been released publicly just yet (aside from the Aquaman SDCC teaser), so there is no way of knowing how well this method will work in the final product. However, Justice League marketing has shown Curry and Mera (Amber Heard) moving around underwater in a natural way, so any kinks should’ve been worked out by now. Judging by Dafoe’s comments here, it sounds like they have and has made for a seamless transition to filming this way.

Dafoe will play Vulko in the film, serving as an advisor and mentor to Curry according to this interview. This should give Dafoe plenty of opportunities to work with Momoa in and out of these elaborate set ups. Fans just recently got the best look at Vulko yet, thanks to some Justice League merchandise – and after having worked on that movie, Dafoe may have already familiarized himself with the process of filming underwater, prior to Aquaman starting production. It sounds as though Wan has a handle on this filming style too and should be able to put his talents to work in making the underwater sequences here stand out. If they can accomplish that, it could be one of many reasons that Aquaman succeeds.


Justice League release date: Nov 17, 2017
Aquaman release date: Dec 21, 2018
Shazam! release date: Apr 5, 2019
Wonder Woman 2 release date: Dec 13, 2019
Cyborg release date: Apr 3, 2020
Green Lantern Corps. release date: Jul 24, 2020