Aquaman's first appearance was on The Adventures of Aquaman part of the Superman / Aquaman Hour of Adventure in 1967.
Along with fish telepathy, this version of Aquaman could throw concussive water balls. Not only did Aquaman headline the show, but he was treated with respect. The same could not be said for old fish face in his next series.
In 1973, Aquaman teamed with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Wendy, Marvin and Wonderdog. This Aquaman also possessed super strength and a vast knowledge of oceanography. As the Super Friends series continued, Aquaman gained a reputaion among fans of being fairly useless outside of water and kind of a wimp.
The King of the Sea next appeared as a guest star in the Superman: The Animated Series episode "A Fish Story" in 1999. Still toting his trademark orange and green, this Aquaman has a bit more edge, being at odds with surface dwellers, especially Lex Luthor.
This take on the character returned, though with a drastic makeover, in both Justice League and Justice League Unlimited beginning in 2001. Losing the orange shirt, Aquaman had long hair, a beard, and in his first episode, upgraded his hand for a Captain Hook style harpoon. His role was that of an occasional guest star, rather than a key team member.
In 2005 Aquaman became part of a running plot on the HBO series Entourage. A fictional film featuring old fish face grossed a record breaking $117 opening weekend. Its unlikely that such a feat will ever be accomplished in the real world.
Also in 2005, Aquaman got a makeover for his debut in Smallville. In this take, the character's telepathy is set aside for a focus on water infused strength and speed. Though costumeless, this "A.C." still loves wearing orange shirts whenever he gets the chance.
So popular was A.C. on Smallville, that a pilot was made for a Smallville spin-off titled Mercy Reef in 2006. Aquaman was recast, but the show failed to get the greenlight. A lot of this had to do with the forming of the lower budget CW network that axed a pricey the water-based series. Aquaman 2.0 went on to play Green Arrow on Smallville while Aquaman 1.0 would continue to drop into Smallville from time to time. Did I mention Lois Lane fell for both of them? Hussie!
Check out the trailer below or click here to watch the whole pilot.
Aquaman would return to his classic look in a cameo appearance in 2007's animated feature Justice League: The New Frontier.
2008's Batman: The Brave and the Bold has breathed new life into Aquaman. Old Arthur has been portrayed as a bit of a loon, and has been used for comic relief, but he is still a genuine hero and at least he is not depicted as a Super Friends style wimp. His humor and determination have propelled him to become one of the series most enjoyable characters.
While more popular than he was 10 years ago, Aquaman still has quite a challenge ahead of him if he wants to be taken seriously. I think its just hard for us surface dwellers to identify with the king of the seas. I really don't expect him to be jumping on the superhero movie bandwagon anytime soon. For now, he should be happy to be getting so much exposure and if he keeps his sea weeds crossed he may be able to ride the coattails of other Leaguers into an eventual Justice League film.
Update Jan 2010:
Old Fish Face will be briefly seen in the upcoming Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths movie.