When you think of an underwater superhero, the first guy that pops to mind is likely Aquaman. We know the character of the King of Atlantis to be a DC powerhouse, but is that really the case? Is Aquaman really a DC character, or is the King of Atlantis actually a Marvel character? The answer we have for you might be a bit of a surprise…
Who is Aquaman?
Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman, was always a highly popular character among DC Comics fans, but his popularity exploded in mainstream pop culture after Jason Momoa’s portrayal of Aquaman in DCEU’s ‘Justice League’ (2017) and ‘Aquaman’ (2018), respectively. So, who is Aquaman?
Arthur first appeared in ‘More Fun Comics’ #73 in November 1941. His origin story changed several times over the years, but the most common one that’s considered canon is that he is the son of an Atlantean queen and a human lighthouse keeper.
His royal Atlantean lineage, paired with his human father’s DNA, made Arthur a unique hybrid with incredible powers, including superhuman strength, speed (especially while swimming/diving), durability, the ability to breathe underwater, and more.
At first, Aquaman didn’t know of his Atlantean origins, but he eventually took over the throne and became the most legendary King of Atlantis in history – by far the largest empire in the world, covering the Seven Seas and about 70% of the planet Earth.
Arthur is a pure superhero – compassionate to humankind due to him growing up with his father. Eventually, he became one of the founding members of the Justice League, which includes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and others, and defended the world from some of the largest threats and most powerful supervillains.
It’s evident that Aquaman is a DC character – but is he really an original DC character? Well, it depends on who you ask.
Who came first – Namor or Aquaman?
Recently, the 2022 MCU film – ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ – brought another King of Atlantis into mainstream media and popular culture – Namor the Sub-Mariner. Granted, his origins and powers are drastically different from those in the comics, so he technically is a brand-new character.
However, if you’re one of those fans who believe Namor is Marvel’s copy of Aquaman – you have that the other way around. You see, Namor the Sub-Mariner was the first mutant Marvel has ever created, but also one of their first heroes overall. He first appeared in ‘Motion Picture Funnies Weekly’ #1 in April 1939 and ‘Marvel Comics’ #1 in October 1939.
Aquaman, on the other hand, appeared in DC Comics about two years later (‘More Fun Comics’ #73 in November 1941). Arthur Curry was created directly as DC’s version of Marvel’s Namor – with a few twists to avoid copyright issues, of course, but they are basically the same character.
Namor was the son of an Atlantean princess and a human father – a sea captain – but was also a mutant, making him much more powerful than his kin. The Atlanteans killed his father and took Namor’s mother back to Atlantis, where the Sub-Mariner was raised to become their king.
On the other hand, Aquaman was born to an Atlantean queen and a human father – a lighthouse keeper – but wasn’t really a mutant. His royal bloodline and hybrid physiology made him much more powerful than his kin. The Atlanteans didn’t kill his father – instead, Arthur was raised by his dad, which is why he is so much kinder to the ‘surface-dwellers’ than Namor.
Aquaman learned of his Atlantean heritage when he was already grown, and he would become their most noble, most legendary king. Those little twists are here, but it’s evident we’re talking about a rip-off character here. Don’t get me wrong – Marvel and DC copied characters from each other all the time. However, this one is just blatant.
They’re both the King of Atlantis, born to an Atlantean royalty mother and a human father. They literally have the same skills and powers that include superhuman strength, reflexes, and speed – especially underwater, where they can match the fastest heroes of their respective universes – they can both telepathically communicate with all marine life (although Namor does it far less), etc.
Even their weaknesses are the same – the longer they spend outside of water, the weaker their powers become. It’s a bit more highlighted for Namor, but Aquaman has this weakness, too.
Is Aquaman Marvel or DC?
So, in the end, is Aquaman Marvel or DC?
The character of Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman, is the creation and property of DC Comics; there’s no doubt about that.
However, the character Aquaman was based on that came a couple of years before is not from DC Comics – Namor is from Marvel Comics.
Now, Namor is more of an antihero, or even a villain in numerous storylines that wants to wage war on the surface world, whereas Aquaman is purely a hero, with a strong bond and kinship towards the surface world due to him being raised as a human by his father.
Aquaman was a regular member of the Justice League – the most popular superhero team in DC Comics, while Namor was arguably more often the enemy of the Avengers – the most popular superhero team in Marvel Comics – than he was their friend.
It resulted in Aquaman outgrowing Namor in popularity, which is why many fans still believe Aquaman came first. Fortunately for you, after reading this article, you’re not one of those many fans.
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