Boston moviegoers may feel some kinship with Ben Affleck’s Batman and Chris Evans’s Captain America, given the actors’ Massachusetts roots, but they’ll soon uncover a different connection to Aquaman, the sea-faring superhero played by Jason Momoa in the DC Comics blockbuster.
In one early scene, a young Aquaman (Kaan Guldur) learns he can talk to fish while on a school trip to the suspiciously named “Boston Aquarium,” an obvious stand-in for our beloved New England Aquarium. When bullied by two kids, the future Ocean Master summons a great white shark to his defense; it rams the tank glass so hard as to crack it.
Now, Bostonians have been quick to note this “Boston Aquarium” looks nothing like the New England Aquarium. That makes sense: “Aquaman” was shot mainly in Australia, even for scenes set in the character’s fictional Maine hometown of Amnesty Bay.
Nevertheless, since “Aquaman” opened, New England Aquarium media relations director Tony LaCasse — who was not contacted by filmmakers — says aquarium educators have been fielding some unusual questions. Among the most common: So where’s that tank? And should we be worried about it cracking?
“That location is not a tank here,” confirms LaCasse, who studied the scene through trailers, though he has yet to see the film himself. “A lot of the animals in that shot were CGI’d, and you’d never have great white sharks held in that kind of a tank. Only one place has ever held them — Monterey Bay Aquarium — in a more outdoor space.”
As for that cracked glass, LaCasse says the construction of the New England Aquarium’s Giant Ocean Tank — with inches-thick acrylic glass windows — would make that kind of fracture about as impossible as, well, a man mind-controlling sharks. Plus, the largest animal in the exhibit is a gentle green sea turtle, named Myrtle.
One element of “Aquaman” that LaCasse is happy to endorse, however? “He’s an ocean protector!”