WARNING: Spoilers for Aquaman lurk in the waters ahead. Proceed at your own cation.
It’s not hard to draw parallels between comic books villains; they usually follow a similar well-trodden path. Big bads mostly wear capes, monologue about their justified thirst for power, flaunt a flawed belief system, and share blood (or, at the very least, a close friendship with) the hero.
While Orm (Patrick Wilson), the central villain in the new Aquaman solo movie, ticks every single one of those boxes, there are bigger similarities at play here between DC’s latest villain and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s two most beloved baddies: Loki and Thanos. We chatted with Wilson about his character’s defining characteristics, how he made the power-hungry king relatable, and if he thinks Orm has a future in the Aquaman franchise.
Orm and Thanos Have a Lot in Common
Thanos, the big bad in Avengers: Infinity War (and our Villain of the Year), and Orm share oddly similar motivations. Thanos is a kind of environmental terrorist who destroys half the universe’s population in order to preserve its remaining natural resources, while Orm is trying to unite the Seven Kingdoms of Atlantis to become Ocean Master and destroy the land-dwellers who have spent years poisoning the seas. In theory, their beliefs make sense. In practice, they’re both totally bonkers.
“I remember watching Avengers going, ‘Oh, look at him! That’s a very similar argument!’” Wilson laughed. But it’s a through-line he’d expected. “I think you could go through every major classic comics character and see where they reflect social and political issues. You can’t create Aquaman and not have it reflect environmental issues with the ocean,” he explained.
Wilson also hopes that while audiences might not agree with Orm’s methods, they might sympathize with his message. “I think a lot of people will agree with what Orm is setting out to do. That’s his gripe, his passion, that is his motivation: Getting kingdoms together to become Ocean Master, take over, fight the surface. What’s interesting is his personality. Sure, that’s shaped by bad parenting by his father, a loveless marriage between his parents, and an older brother he never had but wished he did. These are primal character traits that inform why he acts the way he does.”
Orm Could Become DC’s Loki
Like Loki, Orm is our hero’s combative, power-hungry brother who has a penchant for capes and slicked-back hair, and feels similarly burdened with glorious purpose. During one of Aquaman’s more moving scenes, Orm offers his brother the chance to leave and save himself before they engage in combat. There’s a tenderness and understanding, a brief moment of recognition before they have to dive back into being enemies.
Wilson agreed with the comparison. “I think, like Loki and Thor, when you’re blood-related, there’s always that hope. There’s always that bond, and that will never go away. [Aquaman] will never be able to dismiss him.”
We also know that Orm, like Loki, survived his brother’s victory. Instead of killing him, Aquaman had his problematic brother imprisoned. We all know that Loki’s arc has been, well, unending, and Orm’s might prove the same. “I think if they choose to go further with Orm, I certainly am happy to. It would be very complex, putting him in a situation where he has to help people — you’re always gonna wonder what’s behind it. That’s fun to play.”