‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ Director James Wan Reveals He Completely Changed Film’s Version Of Karshon, Villain Now A Powerful Female Atlantean Politician Instead Of A Human Shark
While a walking, talking human shark seems like the exact kind of ‘comic book camp’ that audiences would absolutely gobble up at the box office, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom director James Wan has revealed that outside of a name, the film’s live-action take on the villain Karshon will share nothing in common with the human-shark-hybrid’s original comic book incarnation.
First introduced to the DC Comics canon in 1963’s Green Lantern Vol. 2 #24, Karshon originally began life as nothing more than an ordinary Tiger shark.
However, after being bombarded with radiation thanks to a nuclear reactor experiment gone awry, the fish suddenly “traversed evolutionary eons in a matter of minutes, became man, and evolved past man.”
Yet, despite the physique, advanced brain power, and extremely powerful mental abilities granted to him by his new humanoid form, Karshon still found himself a slave to his baser instincts, and upon coming to terms with his updated existence he immediately sought out the strongest “prey” in the area – Green Lantern.
Though his initial reign of terror would be brought to a swift end thanks to the Emerald Knight’s unshakeable will power, Karshon would continue to serve as a minor antagonist to the Corps’ Earth-based members throughout the years, his most notable appearance coming during Crisis on Infinite Earths when he was revived by Guy Gardner to serve as a kamikaze attacker against the Anti-Monitor’s home base on Qward.
Unfortunately for Karshon, DC’s over-abundance of shark-themed villains left the D-lister with little room to swim in the publisher’s canon, a brief dallyance with the then-newly-revived Hal Jordan in the fifth and sixth issues of Green Lantern Vol. 4 would be the last readers would hear of the mutant menace for the next thirteen years.
That was, until 2018, when seven years after DC had hit the rest button on their comics continuity with The New 52 initiative, Karshon would reintroduce himself to the world as a very, very short-lived member of Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad, meeting his end after just three-issues courtesy of a literal back-stabbing from his Atlantean teammate Fin.
And while the villain was a relatively obscure one even amongst the most die-hard of DC fans, the October 2021 announcement that Escape Room:Tournament of Champions actor Indya Moore would be portraying Karshon in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom had many fans hopeful for some over-the-top shark action.
At the same time, Moore’s self-identity as a transgender, non-binary individual led some to speculate that Kharshon’s character would be changed to fall more in line with the actor’s real-world traits.
Unfortunately, in typical comic book movie fashion, it was this latter, more predictable route that the aforementioned Wan went with in bringing Karshon to the silver screen.
Speaking with Empire Magazine for their December 2023 issue, Wan confirmed, “This Karshon is not a shark character. It’s different [from] the comic books in that sense.”
“One of the things we wanted to do, now that Arthur is king of Atlantis, is to give him barriers within the political world,” he explained. “Karshon comes from the High Council, and is like a political roadblock for Arthur.”
While Wan did not provide any specific details regarding his translation of Karshon from shark to human, particularly in regards to the aforementioned discussion regarding his new version’s gender identity, it is currently presumed via Moore’s use of female pronouns in addition to non-binary ones that the cinematic incarnation will be depicted as a woman.
Outright abandoned to the currents of the sea by Warner Bros. and James Gunn’s new DC plans, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is currently on track to emerge into theaters on December 22nd.