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Aquaman Is Swimming Into My Cosplay Dreams. Thanks, Jason Momoa.

Ah, Halloween season.

The grand time when, as my friend and burlesque performer Lillian Bustle says, you can let out your inner stripper.

And, for geeks, a grand time of wearing your passions not just on your sleeve, but over your entire body, for days at a time! Nothing gets better than filling up at the gas station in elaborate horror garb.

This year, my wife and I have taken on the Hardcore Halloweeners’ challenge of doing a more classic costume: a witch and warlock.

In retrospect, I should have gone as her black cat for a fun gender flip on that old leotard-ears-and-tail ensemble. Alas, next time.

When Halloween season approaches, I spent a lot of time scouring costume sites for ideas and potential acquisitions. You never know what’s gonna be hot from year to year, what new outfits have moved in, what outrageous and offensive ideas will be thoughtlessly crapped out. (I think the “Sexy Handmaiden” costume, so bad it was discontinued after mass public outcry, takes the cake this year.)

Amid all my searches, my online and brick-and-mortar travels, I keep coming back to Aquaman.

Yes, Arthur Curry. King of Atlantis, King of the Seven Seas, the Dweller-in-the-Depths, the Aquatic Ace, the Marine Marvel. The lamest one on Super Friends.

But, these days, he’s also Jason Momoa in tight jeans. That Aquaman movie is coming, just in time for Christmas.

We got some more footage recently, including that the movie basically looks like Underwater He-Man with all the armor, old-timey weapons, battle creatures and lasers. I’m in favor of that approach. Sometimes I want superhero movies to be action figures come to life, because these character primarily were made for children.

The final shot of Momoa reveals that he’s finally wearing the traditional gold-and-green getup.

It’s about time! All these other variations were fine in the Zack Snyder-skewed appearances of Batman v Superman and Justice League, but c’mon, we wanted the real suit.

And I want that suit on me.

I’ve been having a lot of fun this past couple of years embracing more cosplay. While stumbling into Thor worked out well, everything changed with the Captain Nemo/League of Extraordinary Gentlemen costume. I’ve won some contests with Nemo (including this week!), it gave me some serious entry into the cosplayer world, and it’s been eye-opening to wear a character of color whose story plays into colonialism and other race issues.

I definitely will be putting together a Black Panther cosplay in time, whether as a comics/film accurate version of T’Challa or as my own version of Wakanda’s protector from another point in time. I’ve been making inventory of different purveyors of African-print clothing, plus renfaire vendors who could fashion custom leather gauntlets with claws, maybe even a panther mask.

And now Aquaman has stormed his way into my cosplayer dreams, thanks to this upcoming movie.

Never would I have considered Aquaman near the top of my list, even though I like the character and have a decent-sized stack of his comics. But things changed when Jason Momoa stepped into the role. If Aquaman the movie is successful, Momoa and his brown skin could embody the role worldwide for a generation.

There’s almost no way that Warner Bros. and DC weren’t thinking about how shipping Momoa’s brown face around the world could play. Any forward-thinking studio figure, looking for where the find the future’s next dollar will come from, has to seriously consider and plan for a future of international box office success that don’t, or can’t, always rely on a white man at the front to sell it.

We now live in a world after Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time and Wonder Woman. We live in a Hollywood creative environment with ever increasing Hollywood-China production partnerships, plus Bollywood in India and Nollywood in Nigeria. Dwayne Johnson is the biggest action star in the world, and the multinational, multi-ethnic Fast and Furious movies the biggest franchise going. 

I’m still not all that convinced of Momoa’s screen presence.

However, at the very least, his visage in that golden fish scale tunic moved the needle enough for me to determine that I must know them as well. There’s something about not embodying whiteness in my black body that’s at play here.

And that brings me to a point that I hadn’t realized until recently about why I should have an Aquaman suit. For purely aesthetic reasons beyond how I may fit in the suit.

No, it’s because I, like Jason Momoa, have the complexion for it.

Look at that suit. Orange and green? You need some notable melanin, lest those bold colors swallow you up. The best improvement to Aquaman’s color scheme may be the man who wears the suit. Those bold colors most often look better against darker, warmer skin tones.

In the regular fashion world, orange/green or gold/green can be tricky against many white people’s complexions. In comic book world, the flat style of the traditional four-color method didn’t do Aquaman any favors.

Changing the suit’s colors don’t always help, either. When some iterations of Aquaman go for more of a gold tunic than orange, thanks to the Nordic-looking Arthur Curry, a colorist can run the risk of making him monochrome from the waist up. Thankfully, modern digital coloring methods allow for shading and tones that can break things up more.

So maybe Aquaman should have had darker skin all along, on the merits of the best aesthetics given the colors of the costume? Maybe they shouldn’t have colored Arthur Curry so alabaster?

Given the current kerfuffles in comics world from dudes demanding a status quo because meritocracy, I’m sure they’d agree with me, right?



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