Who is Mera? The answer may elude all but the most enthusiastic DC comic fans. In the comics, Mera is Aquaman's wife, the Queen of Atlantis, and one of the most powerful beings in the DC Universe. She is one of the many reasons Aquaman is amazing. Everyone else will know her from her appearance in Justice League, in which she's played by Amber Heard. And while she didn't have much screen time in Justice League, Mera has a more pivotal role in 2018's Aquaman. So, it's essential we get to know more about the exiled Queen of Xebel and her comic book origins.
Mera first appears in 1963's Aquaman #11 as the exiled queen of Xebel. Through marriage, and later her own merit as a leader, Mera becomes queen of Atlantis. Aquaman remains faithful to some parts of Mera’s comic book origins, though many details have changed. According to Amber Heard, Queen Atlanna raises Mera from a young age and expects her to inherit the throne. Queen Atlanna envisions Mera ruling beside King Orm, Aquaman’s half-brother and rival.
Another notable change in the movie is Mera's relationship with Nereus. In the film, King Nereus is Mera’s biological father, but in the comic books, he's Mera’s lover.
When Mera is first introduced, she rules as queen of Xebel, an undersea kingdom from Dimension Aqua. A fellow Xebelian, Leron, leads a revolution against her and deposes her from her throne. Mera flees, finding refuge with Aquaman in Atlantis.
The nature of Xebel and its relationship to Atlantis eventually changes. Rather than being an alternate kingdom to Atlantis, in current continuity, Xebel is Atlantis' ancient penal colony, accessible only through the Bermuda Triangle. It was once used to house individuals too dangerous to reside in the kingdom, but modern Atlanteans have long forgotten about it.
Since Mera’s introduction in the comics, she's had the power of aquakinesis. In Justice League Vol. 3 #24, Mera uses her abilities against the Justice League. She traps Superman and Wonder Woman in water, removes Green Lantern’s ring, and manipulates the water in the Flash’s body to dehydrate him.
After the release of Justice League, audiences were disappointed by the absence of Mera's powers. One of the primary dissatisfactions came from the decision to have her character create air bubbles to aid conversation underwater. It was a quick solution to have dialogue underwater, but ultimately unsatisfactory for moviegoers. Luckily, Mera will exhibit more of her powers in Aquaman.
When asked about Mera’s relationship with the surface world, Amber Heard stated her character “has a natural antagonistic view of the surface world.” Her antagonism may derive from unfamiliarity with the surface, or from her feelings about how people treat the ocean, as suggested by Heard. Regardless of the source, Mera does not trust the surface world.
Throughout the comics, she struggles with her inability to understand or relate to the surface world, and the surface world refuses to accept or respect her. In Aquaman Vol. 7 #6, Mera goes into a grocery store in Amnesty Bay, Arthur Curry's hometown, to look for her pet dog. The store manager begins to touch Mera inappropriately, so she breaks his arm. Shoppers call the police, and a security officer intervenes, but Mera disarms the guard with her aquakinesis. She's later charged with three cases of assault.