AQUAMAN: Origins of a Prince (2011)

Feature Screenplay
Written by Sean Barther & Clint Horvath


On a dive mission, a marine biologist encounters a mermaid who takes him to a secret location of Atlantis. He finds out he is of royal descent and must free the spell of an evil tyrant.

Behind the Story

So I've been a fan of Aquaman way before Jason Momoa joined the Justice League. Hell, I had this idea back in 2011. I grew up watching/reading DC comics. And I loved the top heroes (Batman/Superman) and I felt Aquaman was much more than a guy who just talks to fish. My main goal was to get this story to Bruce Timm, who's in charge of the DC Original Animated Movies. If you haven't seen them you need to.  

The oil spill had just happened in 2010 and they were passing all kinds of commercials of animals rescued and covered in oil. The main sponsor was Dawn dish soap. I thought this is the perfect time for Aquaman to show up and be heroic. So I knew I wanted to write a script, but I didn't know how to do it. A co-worker, Sean Barther, was a huge comic nerd (That's a good thing) and had written scripts before. I came to him with the idea in mind and asked if he would like to collaborate. He agreed. The next step was for me to learn all about Aquaman. So I did.    

I went to Tate's Comics and bought Aquaman Vol. 1. It's a collection of black and white comics from the golden age. I then, Wikipedia all the characters in his universe. I started to connect the dots of how they would interact with him as well as their profession. The tough part was learning all the characters that lived in the ocean. I've learned that Atlantis wasn't the only city but there were several others. I had a giant monitor at work so I googled the world map and traced it onto two papers. I colored it and planned where the underwater cities would be located.    

I knew I wanted to have the greek gods be a part of it. Mainly Poseidon and Hades. At this point, I laid all this out for Sean and we went to work. We outlined the script, downloaded Celtx, and began the process. I love paying tribute to some of my favorite movies. In the origins of Aquaman, he is left at the lighthouse. So I immediately thought of the film, "The Ten Commandments". There was a part in the film where Moses finds his mother as a slave. We planned this idea where the Villain in the ocean would use a ruby given to him by Hades and with this, he makes everyone slaves including Aquaman's mother Queen Atlanna.    

Next up was to find out who would be the villains in this epic origins story. I literally just picked a name I liked and redesigned him to fit what we wanted. I picked Thanatos. It sounds grand and that's what I wanted (Funny enough this was before Marvel's Thanos). That takes care of the underwater villain. But what about a villain on land? Well, that's pretty obvious, Black Manta. I found in my Vol 1 edition, they mentioned his first name as Harry. Okay done.    

I knew for most of the story I wanted him to be just out of college. We made him a marine biologist working at NOAA. And there would be a department where Harry and his team would work called, O.G.R.E, which stands for Oil Generated Reusable Energy. They would be in charge and the blame for the oil spill. And the reason for the oil spill is because Black Manta was looking for Atlantis. You see it all connects.    

Since I started the research and outline for the writing process, I would write the first part. And since Sean was a major collaborator in development he would write the second half. After the first draft was complete we went through it together, tightened it up, and called it done.    

We never got a chance to send it out. We weren't qualified to do so. But what I take away from it was we did it. The experience of anything you do is worthwhile. Especially if you can take something away from it. In a couple of years, DC Original Animated Movies released an Aquaman film and a few years later Jason Momoa was cast and was in a few DC movies plus his own feature.    

I do have a follow-up outline. Maybe I'll get to it. There's always the idea to make it a kids' book/graphic novel. We'll see what the future holds.

***Image was created using artificial intelligence with Midjourney***

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