Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will introduce the deadly apex predator Karshon (The Shark) to the DC Extended Universe. For many fans, this will be their first time experiencing the lesser-known Silver and Bronze Age villain. However, Karshon isn’t the only interesting character set to appear in the film.
The titular hero Aquaman (Jason Momoa) will be back in addition to the returning Mera (Amber Heard), Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), King Orm (Patrick Wilson), and King Nereus (Dolph Lundgren). Vincent Regan has also been confirmed for the movie as Atlan, the ancient ruler of Atlantis, while actress Jani Zhao makes her English-language film debut as Stingray.
Karshon, also known as The Shark, is a fascinating character to include in Aquaman 2 as the name actually points towards a very specific arc in comic book history. While the super-powered shark hasn’t been at the forefront of a major DC Comics story for nearly 35 years, Karshon has taken major Justice League mainstays like Green Lantern and Aquaman to their absolute limit on multiple occasions.
There has been some confusion surrounding the character, as Karshon and The Shark are not necessarily interchangeable names for the same thing. The Shark was first introduced in the 1963 comic book Green Lantern #24 as a literal tiger shark that developed superpowers after being exposed to the full force of an atomic blast. The incident accelerated the animal’s evolution by millions of years in the span of seconds, taking on a more humanoid look in the process. The Shark retained the baser instinct to hunt, but his super-powered intellect and abilities made preying upon regular people a dull affair, leading to him actively seeking out superheroes to hunt and devour.
The Shark took on the name Karshon specifically for his most famous battle against Aquaman. During a 1976 arc in Adventure Comics, the disguised villain hatched a plot to completely strip the Protector of the Deep of his title, his people, and even his family—basically everything important to him. Working in tandem with Black Manta, the Ocean Master and the Fisherman, he was able to seize power over Atlantis and convince the public that Aquaman had stollen something called Serum X, which the Justice League member was accused of selling to corporations on the surface who would mine the oceans for profit. None of this was true, but Karshon was able to turn the people against Aquaman, take his throne and kidnap his family before finally revealing he was The Shark all along.
The character was reintroduced in Tom Taylor’s 2019 Suicide Squad series as The Shark, but like many of the group’s seemingly disposable members, he doesn’t last very long. On his first mission with Task Force X, the team encounters a band of freedom fighters called The Revolutionaries, and after a battle that results in casualties to both sides, The Revolutionaries are implanted with bombs and forced to become members of the Suicide Squad. During the fight, The Shark kills and devours an Atlantean named Scale right in front of his telepathic twin brother Fin. The two were expected to work together or risk being detonated by their superiors, but Fin was pushed too far and gets his revenge by stabbing The Shark with his own tooth and summoning more sharks to eat him.
The original Green Lantern depiction of The Shark comes with a set of powers that even the mightiest of Earth’s heroes would have a difficult time combatting. The atomic blast that accelerates his evolutionary process essentially gives him the ability to manipulate matter just by thinking about it. In his first few pages as a sentient being, The Shark uproots a tree by creating a tornado, melts a rock formation, and kills an unspecified “heavyweight champion” by simply looking at him. He can also infiltrate the minds of others over a vast distance, so the longer he is around people, the more information the supervillain picks up. The Shark uses that link to instill fear into his victims, which feeds his bloodlust as an apex predator and makes him even stronger.
It is unclear which abilities the modern Suicide Squad version of The Shark possessed, as the character was killed off before writers could explore his backstory. When he brutally murders Scale he actually rips him in half between his teeth with all the effort of snapping a toothpick. He then uses telepathy to constantly antagonize Fin, forcing the Atlantean to feel what his twin brother felt whilst being turned into chum. The rest of The Shark’s more deadly psionic abilities are not mentioned, but he was unable to stop a shiver of normal sharks from killing him after spilling blood in the ocean, potentially indicating this version of the character was more limited.
It’s true that Karshon will actually be the second character based on a shark in the DCEU, but the relatively obscure comic book villain has very little in common with The Suicide Squad‘s beloved demigod King Shark. The biggest difference between the two characters, by far, is their intelligence. King Shark isn’t exactly the most scholarly member of the Suicide Squad and can be somewhat difficult to contain once the overwhelming bloodlust sets in. He’s a simple kind of shark who just wants to eat people.
Karshon, on the other hand, is a super-genius with seemingly unlimited potential to continue growing smarter the more minds he has to explore. He actively hunts down superheroes because eating regular people is far too mundane. That’s not to say King Shark could never win in a fight, as the comics have shown Karshon (as The Shark) being bested by sheer brute force, despite an ability to manipulate matter on a whim that one would think makes him nearly invincible. In their first encounter, Green Lantern was pushed to his limit but ended up beating The Shark by hitting him with a block of ice so densely frozen it simply knocked him unconscious. That said, in a battle of pure intellect, the fight goes to the DCEU newcomer every time.
Indya Moore is stepping into the character of Karshon in what will be the actor’s first venture into the world of comic books movies. They are coming off three very successful seasons on the Emmy award-winning FX series Pose and have appeared in feature films like Escape Room: Tournament of Champions and Damon Cardasis’ 2017 drama Saturday Church. No details about how Karshon will enter the DCEU have been revealed at this time, but it will certainly be interesting to see what Moore can bring to the role when Aquaman 2 hits theaters in 2022.
While nothing has been confirmed by the studio thus far, the movie’s specific use of Karshon instead of the character’s more widely used name The Shark is indication filmmakers are at least aware of the original Adventure Comics arc and could have drawn upon aspects of the story for inspiration while writing Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. More information will likely be revealed when Warner Bros. releases the first trailer for the highly-anticipated sequel.