amber heard and jason momoa

Jason Momoa & James Wan Reportedly Had to Fight To Keep Amber Heard in ‘Aquaman 2,’ DC Film Chief Denies

One of the aspects of the Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard defamation trial is a countersuit from Heard claiming that she was the one who lost work due to Depp dragging the suit out in the legal system and the damage he has done to her career.

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During testimony, “entertainment industry consultant” Kathryn Arnold claimed that Warner Bros. pushed to have Amber Heard removed from Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom outright, only being stopped by a united front from costar Jason Momoa and director James Wan. Arnold called Wan and Momoa “committed to her” and stated that they were “adamant she was in the film.”

Heard testified, previously, that her part in the film was cut back and that, in the original script, she had a fuller arc. “I was given a script, then given new versions of the script that had taken away scenes that had action in it, that depicted my character and another character — without giving any spoilers away — two characters fighting with one another,” Heard said. “They basically took a bunch out of my role. They just removed a bunch.”

The official reason was because of a supposed lack of chemistry with Momoa. Arnold also stated that “research showed whenever Heard’s name was mentioned, whether, in connection to a film, TV show, magazine article, or endorsement deal, there was immediate backlash from fans on social media.” We have all been forced to see that, despite blocking and muting tags, since social media has been promoting this trail for engagement, content creators have decided to discuss it at length, and it has been trending nearly every day for the last six weeks—with the vast majority of the interactions being violently anti-Heard.

In response to this, allegedly, Warner Bros. told Heard she was essentially disinvited from DC FanDome, the now-annual celebration of its brands and various film properties. I can’t say this is surprising because, even as someone who supports Heard, that comes with accepting a lot of vitriol and assumptions. DC Films chief Walter Hamada, however, has testified that Heard’s job wasn’t “imperiled for the reason the actress has claimed” and that “the studio did not reduce her role along the way.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hamada said the following:

“They didn’t have a lot of chemistry together. The reality is it’s not uncommon on movies for two leads to not have chemistry and it’s sort of movie magic and editorial — the ability to put performances with the magic of a great score and how you put the pieces together, you can fabricate that chemistry. At the end of day when you watch the movie, it looks like they have great chemistry. But I just know that through the course of post-production, it took a lot of effort to get there. Sometimes you just put characters together on the screen and they work. It’s like what makes a movie star a movie star. You know it when you see it. The chemistry wasn’t there … This one was more difficult because of lack of chemistry between the two.”

I mean, editing is supposed to do that, and quite frankly, there has been so much lack of romantic chemistry between leads in television and film that I really doubt that as an explanation. I mean … look at Dany/Jon Snow, Chris Evans’ Captain America and everyone but Peggy, Doctor Strange/Christine, etc. The best romances from comic book adaptations have been Diana and Steve in Wonder Woman and Tony and Pepper in Iron Man. I would argue that for actors with limited range, Arthur (Momoa) and Mera (Heard) worked really well together.

When asked directly if Heard’s role was ever “reduced,” Hamada said it wasn’t. He claimed that the film sequel was conceived “from the very early stages of development” as a “buddy comedy” between Aquaman and his half-brother, King Orm (Patrick Wilson).

If Hamada had simply said, “We reduced her role because we don’t really give major roles for female love interests and that first Aquaman was an anomaly,” I’d believe that more. Hamada has also been involved in controversy concerning his treatment of Ray Fisher and protecting Joss Whedon.

Regardless of whoever walks away winning this case, in the court of Public Opinion, the verdict has been reached. Not only has Amber Heard’s career and public image likely been ruined, but survivors all over the world have been forced to be bombarded with this trial and the misinformation surrounding it.

To quote from The Atlantic,

You don’t have to believe everything Heard says to be startled when a Law&Crime guest, the defense attorney Lara Yeretsian, wonders aloud, after hours of Heard’s testimony, why she stayed with her alleged abuser—a question so exhaustively asked and answered over decades of work by domestic-violence advocates that it inspired an activists’ hashtag eight years ago. “It’s a question that I’m sure a lot of people are asking today,” Yeretsian said.

For all the yelling that this is about addressing the systemic issues surrounding believability of male victims and those who have female/femme abusers, there sure seems to have been a lot of repeating of old stereotypes—ones that keep all survivors and victims of domestic violence/intimate partner violence silent. The cruelty is and remains the point, with a layer of social justice language to validate the harm being done.

(via The Wrap, image: Warner Bros.)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.