Riding on the wings of fondness for nods and comic familiarity, Aquaman is pretty tightly packed with clever references and honorable links to his comic origins. Horror master, James Wan refused to disappoint with a pretty respectable reverence for Aquaman history, his historic ties to all sea-related folklore and hints at the broader DC extended universe. So, without further introduction, how about we dive into 31 Aquaman Easter Eggs and references all experienced mariners should have spotted…
1. Amnesty Bay
Tom Curry’s lighthouse, befitting the comics, is located in New England. We do get a slight deviation, moving the bay from Massachusetts to Maine, but the visual similarity of a lonely lighthouse with a short pier surrounded by the rocky Atlantic coast is spot-on depiction of how it is in the comics.
When Atlanna wakes up in Thomas Curry’s house, she gets spooked by a TV showing the beginning of Gerry Andersons’ puppet-classic, Stingray – a show about an ocean defense force with a high-tech sub and a princess of the sea who seems a lot like Atlanna herself.
3. A Work of Lovecraft
Apparently, you can’t visit the New England coast without a nod to the king of cosmic horror. On Thomas Curry’s coffee table, we catch a glimpse of a copy of The Dunwich Horror. It seems fate has a sense of rhyme. But this is hopefully not one of the stories he told to Arthur considering the story features an abomination child of two worlds who gets taught magic by an old sorcerer.
4. Talking to Fish
This has been one of Aquaman’s most well-known and derided of powers – the ability to communicate with fish. The movie decides to mock the mockers by having a few boys make fun of a young Arthur about his talent, only for him to mentally call a shark to bang the glass and scare them off. This was clearly a nod to Bruce Wayne’s Justice League line to Aquaman, “I hear you talk to fish”, and of course, the general mockery the character has gained by the public.
5. Flippa Dippa
Black Manta’s father mentions that his grandfather was a frogman for the U.S. Navy during WWII. There’s not many who fit this description but one – the DC hero, Flippa Dippa, a frogman who was a member of the Newsboy Legion of super heroes, created in 1942.
6. Dr. Stephen Shin
Remember that exposition-spouting conspiracy nut on the news? He’s actually Stephen Shin, a friend of Arthur’s from the comics with a fascination for Atlantis as bold as what we see on TV. Hopefully his intentions are benign.
7. Karate Kid
Arthur’s a big fan of movies. Preparing for the duel with his half-brother Orm, Arthur asks for tips from his mentor. To indicate his need, Arthur asks “Teach me how to fight Cobra-Kai,” calling out the rival dojo to our heroes in The Karate Kid. Wax-on, Wax-off.
It seems James Wan inserted a number of his works into the movie. Hidden in the wreckage of the sunken galleon, in the ruins of old Atlantis, an unmistakable, familiar head might be spotted – that of the haunted doll, Annabelle from Wan’s The Conjuring.
Did anyone else spot the Pinocchio book handed to Mera in Italy, right after Arthur made a comment about it? Or how about the moment the duo got stuck inside a whale’s mouth, which was a clear reference to the Disney classic? Aquaman gave Pinocchio several shout-outs, even at the start of the film when a toy of the character is spotted in Arthur’s home.
10. Leigh Wannall’s Sneaky Appearance
Keep an eye out and the pilot of the plane Arthur and Mera use to fly over the Sahara is none other than Saw screenplay writer, Leigh Wannall, who got to show off his character chops by displaying an Australian accent he’s not normally seen using. Nice flying, Leigh!
11. “Hey Fight Club!”
Arthur is certainly one for popping the pop-culture references. While trekking though the desert, he mocks Mera by calling her “fight club.” The name could mean a number of things but we’re guessing he was comparing Mera to Tyler Durden. Like him, she is a devil on Arthur’s shoulder daring our hero to do something incredibly dangerous for some notion of being a hero. That’s our take anyway.
12. The Bifrost
Possibly one of the movie’s less solid ideas was the bridge/tunnel to get into Atlantis. It’s a convenient way to funnel our heroes through to the world of the Atlanteans, but we can’t help but suspect this was a nod to Thor, to which the Internet has already found a few thematic similarities between the two movies.
13. Romulus and Remus
“Through the eyes of the true king, the path will reveal itself” was the message. The eyes of a Sicilian statue of Romulus to be precise. It was quite meaningful that a King Romulus statue helped Arthur and Mera on their quest, as Romulus was, with Remus as son of an ancient king. But more importantly, he killed his brother and asserted himself as king of Rome. Good thing Arthur was only half-Atlantean and thus wasn’t obliged to follow their natures.
14. Mera’s Air Bubble Trick
Remember Mera’s ‘air bubble’ trick in Justice League? When she formed a sort of cocoon to communicate with Arthur? This was somewhat slammed by viewers and even James Wan acknowledged its silliness in a tweet. Thankfully, this idea of underwater communication was removed from Aquaman and it’s gets given a bit of sense here. It’s very useful when Mera reveals that only highborn Atlanteans can breathe air (which we amusingly see proof of later). But, thankfully, Atlanteans don’t need air pockets to talk. Sea people needing air to talk? Really Zack?
15. The Fast and the Furious
When the pair arrive in Africa, they make a dramatic entrance from the sea to a remix of Toto’s Africa composed by none other than Pitbull – the guy who composed a signature song for the Fast and Furious franchise. “I know it seems to some a little bit weird, but it’s almost like my little tribute to my Fast & Furious background. Having made a Fast & Furious movie, it was kind of fun to see the characters come out of the water in slow motion with this hip-hop music in the background.”, James Wan said.
16. Austin Power’s Dr Evil
We’re not sure if this was intentional, but if you’re a fan of the Austin Powers movies, it’s hard to not imagine the shark-mounted Atlantean cavalry as being very similar to Dr Evil’s greatest wish – “Frickin Sharks with Laser Beams”.
That octopus playing the drums in the arena? It’s got to be Topo, Aquaman’s Silver Age pet who was also a musician. James Wan confirmed in a later tweet that yes, this one was for the fans!
18. Jules Verne
Later in the game, we get a stunning view of an ocean area in the center of the Earth. Jules Verne described exactly such a place in his novel, Journey to the Center of the Earth, which has been adapted several times. Like the land we see, that place was also filled with dinosaurs. Arthur also references the legendary author in the opening narration.
19. The Deep Ones
If you’re vaguely familiar with the work of H.P. Lovecraft, the fishy monsters of the Trench might seem frighteningly familiar. Lovecraft described a race of ‘deep ones’; mutant fish people that would eat people. Their angler mouths certainly help conjure the impression and meeting them during a stormy sea was almost straight out of his pages. They’re in the comics too, and a big source of problems for the Protector of the Deep.
20. The Dead King’s Trident
If you’re new to Aquaman, you might mistake King Atlan’s trident as what he normally uses. For bigger fans, one could say they are actually looking for the trident of King Orin – Atlan’s dead (and late zombie) brother. The shape is closer – gold with barbs on the side of two curved prongs. Like what we see in the movie, this one is said to command the Trench.
21. Rusty Starfish
It’s often funny when producers slip naughty words under the censors’ radar. Not content to stick to common lingo, Arthur describes Vulko as a “rusty starfish.” An odd sea-euphemism? Nope. It’s a vulgar way of saying “butthole” that’s been around for several years now. It could have been an ad-lib by Jason Momoa that Wan was perfectly fine with.
Aquaman tried hard to avoid any reference to the flop that was Justice League. But there was a quick moment that Arthur brushes off. Its notorious villain, the demon lord, Steppenwolf, gets a brief mention by Mera as she recounts when he attacked Atlantis.
23. Arthur Killing Manta’s Father
A cold act by Arthur early in the movie is a nice nod to the New-52 relationship between Manta and Arthur, who cried vengeance on Aquaman after Arthur accidentally offed Manta Senior. It was an accident back then, whereas here, he considers the man’s suffering as justice for harming innocents.
Version 1.0 of Manta’s new helmet could have done with some tweaking. After the plasma emitters fired and he blows a hole in his shelter, David’s initial conclusion when the helmet cracked open from the stress, was that he was “gonna need a bigger helmet.” This was a classic paraphrasing of the iconic line in Jaws when the boat crew realize just the size of the shark they’re dealing with.
25. Submarine Lifting
If you’re big on the comics, then the scene where Aquaman lifts a sub is likely familiar. There is an iconic display of Aquaman’s strength from the New-52 universe when he reaches a downed submarine filling with water, collides with the side of it and lifts it to the surface. He’s regularly known for lifting ships out of the water.
26. Top Gun
“Bogey on your six!” shouts Arthur as Mera drives them away from some very angry Atlanteans. Although this Top Gun quote didn’t help much as Mera, not being familiar with surfacer culture, was confused as to what he meant.
27. The Classic Look
Normally, when you’re designing a superhero’s costume, there is a need to tweak the designs which might not translate well. The impressive thing about Black Manta, Aquaman, Mera and Ocean Master is that they all eventually get some pretty close approximations of iconic versions of their outfits. Ocean Master even gets some expressive eye holes for his fish-mask.
28. Losing a Hand
It seems DC is trying its own luck with the “someone loses a hand” tradition that Marvel and Star Wars have been playing. During the fight in Sicily, one of the Atlantean soldiers fighting with Black Manta gets his hand cut off by Mera. A handy sealing agent closes over the wound and prevents his suit from losing all its water.
29. Terry’s Sunken Galleon
It wouldn’t be a goofy movie without a little fun with local businesses. The Amnesty Bay bar that Arthur visits with his dad, befitting a fishing town it seems, is called Terry’s Sunken Galleon. That’s not the only sea-link. As the bar also serves Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum. Does the bar serve Captain Morgan rum too?
30. Unite the Seven
Four years ago, Zack Snyder teased an Aquaman poster with the tagline “Unite the Seven” on it. Many assumed that this cryptic hint was a reference to the key seven members of the Justice League. With the movie’s release however, it’s understandable that the Seven to be united were actually the seven kingdoms of Atlantis – Atlantis, Xebel, Fisherman, Brine, Trench, Deserters and the Missins.
31. Atlantis of the Sand
The Deserter kingdom isn’t something known about in the comics. But that’s not to say it’s a new invention. A popular hypothesis regarding Atlantis is that it was located somewhere in the Sahara Desert before the whole place became sand, like Arthur said. Suspected locations are a little more significant than a random dune in the desert, but maybe we’re digging in the wrong place?
We’re back on dry land now, but we won’t miss the journey at all. Are there any Easter Eggs or references we might have skipped whilst on the hunt? Let us know in the comments below…