'Aquaman' Director Comments on the VFX Challenge of Underwater Hair

Aquaman is a big success for Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment - and something of a game-changer for the superhero movie genre. The technical achievement of creating an entire world of underwater civilizations and people may have been overlooked by the awards circuit, but fans have been appreciating what director James Wan and his VFX team have accomplished.

If you're the type of cinephile who enjoys learning about how the Aquaman filmmakers tackled the technical challenge of creating Atlantis, then this will probably be of interest to you:

As you can read above, Aquaman director James Wan revealed that one of the hardest technical challenges of making the film, was actually getting the effect of hair floating in water right:

"This is a great, little insight into ONE VFX component (of which there were many) — the damn HAIR. Momoa’s long hair and beard were such a pain to get right, but ultimately it became an important visual cue to help sell the underwater look."

When Jason Momoa's Aquaman first debuted in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, one of the immediate concerns was how the DC Extended Universe version of Aquaman depicted details like breath control. That same concern extended into the first footage for the Aquaman solo movie, where fans questioned how Atlanteans speak and breathe underwater, and how the movie depicted these acts. It probably didn't occur to a lot of fans that it would be Momoa's or Amber Heard's long flowing hair that would actually be the biggest challenge - but it now seems more clear why Patrick Wilson's Orm and Willem Dafoe's Vulko kept their hair pulled back in tight man-buns. The VFX budget probably couldn't handle more hair animation (kidding?).


The DCEU is no stranger to animating minor portions of their superheroes' looks, such as Batman and Superman's CGI capes. Knowing how Aquaman artificially created its hair effects, the bigger scandal is probably the fact that all that flowing hair never seemed to obstruct a characters line of sight. In the real world of Atlantis, hair flying in your face while your speeding through the ocean like a bullet would be dangerous - and not carrying a hair tie would be a potentially fatal fashion choice.

Upcoming DC Extended Universe films include Aquaman on December 21st, Shazam on April 5, 2019, and Wonder Woman 2 on November 1, 2019.