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Aquaman did have a part to play in Man of Steel after all, thanks to Jason Momoa confirming a piece of off-screen canon. Zack Snyder kicked off what has now become the DC movie universe back in 2013 with a relaunch of Superman. Following in the footsteps of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, Snyder took the character in a new direction – and made a divisive film in the process. While Man of Steel was not made with the knowledge that a universe would springboard off of it, Snyder still included plenty of DC references to set up the possibility.
Lexcorp and Wayne Enterprises logos can be seen during the final fight between Superman (Henry Cavill) and Zod (Michael Shannon), while an empty transportation pod teased Supergirl being on Earth too. However, one of the biggest theories out there was in regards to Aquaman actually having a role to play in saving Clark Kent before he became a beacon of hope.
In the early portions of Man of Steel, Clark ditches his job on the sea to save the workers on a burning oil rig. He successfully saves all of them, but must hold up one crucial beam to make it possible. Even with all of his super strength, the rig collapses beneath him and leaves Clark sinking in the middle of the ocean. Lucky for him, a group of whales just happen to be in the area, giving rise to fan theories that they helped bring him to safety at Aquaman’s command. During an interview with DC All Access , Momoa confirmed that Aquaman played a role in rescuing Superman – just maybe not exactly the way fans have speculated:
In Man of Steel when Henry’s on the oil rig, he’s holding that up and then all of a sudden you see him up on the ocean, kind of floats up on the ocean. [Zack]’s like, I had [Aquaman] save him so that they’d get to cross paths at one point so when Bruce goes, ‘You ever heard of Superman?’, I have and we have crossed paths.
The most common theory has been that Aquaman sent the whales to Superman’s aid, but the reason behind it was unclear. Based on Momoa’s quote, it sounds more like Aquaman’s encounter with Superman came before the whales arrived. The sequence in question has Clark floating in the ocean nearly unconscious after the collapse of the rig, so it may be that Aquaman pulled a drowning Superman from what would have been the entire rig collapsing on, only to leave him in safety (and nearby some whales to possibly even help take him to shore).
While Justice League is expected to be the first time the two characters interact on the big screen, this is a fun nugget for Momoa to reveal. Something like this will add one further talking point for fans upon future rewatches of Man of Steel, but now it can be discussed as something that actually happened, and possibly even plays into Aquaman’s motives and his relationship with Superman in Justice League .