Aquaman is the next hero in line for a solo movie in the DCEU. The new film will pit Aquaman/Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) against his brother Ocean Master/Orm Marius (Patrick Wilson) in a battle for the fate of Atlantis itself. But who is Ocean Master, and why is he so determined to keep the rightful king of Atlantis from the throne?
Here’s everything you need to know about this longtime Aquaman villain.
While Ocean Master’s backstory and even powers have changed a great deal over the years, a few things remain constant. His real name is Orm Marius. He’s the half-brother of Aquaman, and he covets the throne his brother sits upon. He’s been one of the most constant thorns in the side of Aquaman as the hero has tried to steer his kingdom in the right direction and promote peaceful relations with the surface world. But Orm would just as soon wage war and establish Atlantis as the dominant force on the planet, above or below.
Orm’s powers vary significantly depending on the incarnation in question. Originally, Orm was depicted as an ordinary human who relied on advanced technology to survive the crushing depths of the ocean and wage war on Atlantis. Eventually, Orm gained magical powers courtesy of the demonic villain Neron. He was able to manipulate magical energy using his enchanted staff as a conduit, but being separated from that staff caused him excruciating pain.
The character was significantly overhauled with DC’s New 52 reboot in 2011. Now, Orm is depicted as being a full-blooded Atlantean with powers that include super-strength, gills and the ability to communicate with marine life – not unlike his brother. He also wields an enchanted trident that allows him to control the weather.
Ocean Master was created by writer Bob Haney and artist Nick Cardy and made his debut in 1966’s Aquaman #29. At the time, he was depicted as being the child of Aquaman’s human father, Thomas Curry, and a woman named Mary O’Sullivan. Jealous of his half-brother’s fame and incredible powers and rendered insane after a bout of amnesia, Orm took up the mantle of Ocean Master. In those days, he was basically a high-tech pirate, roaming the seas with his crew and making life difficult for his brother.
Writer Peter David was hired to rework the Aquaman franchise in the early ’90s, resulting in books like The Atlantis Chronicles and Aquaman: Time and Tide. Orm’s backstory was dramatically revamped as a result. In this new take, the ancient wizard Atlan was revealed to be the father of both Orm and Arthur Curry, giving Orm a more legitimate claim to the throne. As before, he dedicated himself to seizing control of Atlantis, this time bolstered by his supernatural powers courtesy of Neron. At one point Orm even cast a spell to disguise himself as his brother and rule the sunken realm of Sub Diego.
Ocean Master was given an even bigger overhaul as part of DC’s New 52 reboot in 2011. This time, writer Geoff Johns established that Orm and Aquaman share the same mother – the late Queen Atlanna. According to this new history, Atlanna conceived a child with Thomas Curry and left him to be cared for on the surface world. She was then forced to marry a member of the Atlantean Royal Guard, resulting in Orm’s birth. For a time, Orm actually ruled Atlantis in the New 52, at least until Aquaman reclaimed his birthright in the 2013 storyline “Throne of Atlantis.”
Recent stories have tended to emphasize Orm’s humanity rather than portraying him as a deranged villain. The character even briefly started a new life as a surface dweller after escaping Belle Reve Prison in the Forever Evil crossover.
Ocean Master has appeared in animated form a number of times dating back to the 2001 Justice League animated show. That series wound up predicting the future direction of the character in DC’s comics, casting him as a full-blooded Atlantean and member of the royal court. He’s since played small roles in Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Young Justice.
Orm has also been a frequent presence in DC’s direct-to-DVD animated movies, most notably 2011’s Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and 2015’s Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (and adaptation of the comic book storyline).
Ocean Master has appeared in a handful of DC-themed video games, including DC Universe Online, Scribblenauts Unmasked and the Nintendo DS version of Batman: The Brave and the Bold – The Videogame.
The character will finally make his live-action debut in 2018’s Aquaman, where he’ll be played by Patrick Wilson (Watchmen). It’s believed that the film version will draw most of its inspiration from the current New 52 incarnation of the villain, portraying him as the current ruler of Atlantis who clashes with his half-brother for control of the throne.