When Charlize Theron signed a first-look development deal with HBO Max in 2020, it’s a safe bet that no one was expecting a comic book adaptation to come out of that contract. Regardless, Variety broke the story that Theron is slated to executive produce an Aqualad live-action series for HBO Max. And the things that make this project unique may be exactly the reason why Theron took it on.
The series is an adaptation of an out-of-continuity LGBT-themed YA graphic novel, You Brought Me the Ocean. Alex Sanchez and artist Jul Maroh were the creative team behind that 2019 re-imagining of the origin story for Jackson “Jake” Hyde, the second Aqualad. Within the graphic novel, Jake is unaware of his half-Atlantean nature and initially uncomfortable with his emerging sexuality. However, Jake finds himself falling for his fellow high school student, Kenny Liu, even as Jake’s powers begin to manifest themselves whenever he is exposed to water.
This incarnation of Aqualad was created in 2010 for the animated series, Young Justice, by Brandon Vietti, Greg Weisman, and Phil Bourassa. He wasn’t initially portrayed as LGBT on the show, but he has been in a romantic relationship with another male Atlantean for the past two seasons. His comic book counterpart came out years earlier.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this incarnation of Aqualad is that he is the son of an Atlantean woman and Black Manta, one of Aquaman’s deadliest villains. And his Atlantean birth name is Kaldur’ahm. Within both the comics and the Young Justice show, the former Aqualad is now sharing the Aquaman codename with the original, Arthur Curry. And assuming that the HBO Max show goes forward, Aqualad will be the first openly gay male hero to headline a DC superhero show.
Variety notes that the series is being developed as a one-hour dramedy, although there are no writers attached to the project yet. A.J. Dix, Beth Kono, and Andrew Haas will executive produce the show with Theron for Warner Bros. Television and HBO Max.
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