James Wan has recruited an OG action star to join the cast of the DC Extended Universe’s Justice League follow-up, Aquaman. Rocky IV and Expendables star Dolph Lundgren, he of the strapping Slavic masculinity and secret genius, has joined the cast of the Atlantian King’s solo film as a rival aquatic monarch out for Aquaman’s blood. THR reports that Lundgren will play King Nereus from Mera’s home kingdom of Xebel, a fearsome warrior who claims Mera as his betrothed.
Jason Momoa is starring as the title hero in his first solo film alongside Amber Heard as Mera, Aquaman’s love interest and the object of Xebel’s affection, who will hopefully have more to do than play the pawn between two kings. Also onboard are Willem Dafoe as Aquaman’s royal science advisor, Nuidis Vulko, who will first appear in Justice League, Nicole Kidman as Aquaman’s mother, and Temuera Morrison as Aquaman’s father.
In the villain’s corner, we’ve already got The Get Down star Yahya Abdul-Mateen as the iconic Aquaman villain Black Manta and James Wan’s regular collaborator Patrick Wilson as Orm Marius, a.k.a. Ocean Master, Aquaman’s nefarious half-brother. That’s already two heavy hitting baddies from the Aquaman mythology, adding a third player threatens to be a significantly overstuffed film. Hopefully, they’re planning to use Wilson as a long-term player, planting the seeds of his shadowy ways before turning him into a full-blown baddie in future films.
Created by writer Geoff Johns, who’s currently Chief Creative Officer at DC Films, and artist Paul Pelletier, Nereus first appeared in Aquaman #19 during the New 52 run of DC Comics. He’s a relatively minor Aquaman villain, who teamed with the Dead King after Mera refused her betrothal as his bride and queen of Xebel.
Lundgren made his acting debut in the James Bond film A View to Kill, but it’s his turn as the herculean antagonist Drago in Rocky IV that cemented his pop culture status. Lundgren dipped his toes in the comic book waters as Marvel’s Frank Castle in 1989’s The Punisher and as a guest-starring villain on the DC TV show Arrow. Recently, Lundgren has been maintaining a steady career in DTV actioners and Expendables films.
Aquaman is eyeing a May production start in Australia and is scheduled to arrive in theaters December 21, 2018.