A few days ago Aquaman popped up on Showmax, and since it had been a while I decided it was a good time for a re-watch. I enjoy these re-watches as I get analyze the movie a bit more and see past the eye candy.
We all know of the DCEU and the mess they tangle themselves in. however along came Wonder Woman and all but saved them. However, it wasn’t until Aquaman that we could chant the comeback of DC. It was proof that Wonder Woman wasn’t a fluke. And thanks to Arthur Curry, Warner Bro could finally ride the wave of success again.
Making a Big Splash
Aquaman isn’t the groundbreaking movie like the more recent Joker was. It was in many ways a by the numbers superhero movie. What is did offer was rather than simply place a generic villain (we looking at you Marvel), it split the plot. It created multiple levels of storytelling.
First, there is the fight for the throne; this is the reversal of Black Panther. Arthur finally coming home, to lay claim to the throne. In Black Panther, we found the audience had an affinity to the would-be villainous king. This time it’s Mr. Curry as the underdog. Being the underdog always has the crowd rooting for you.
There is also the adventure part, which has Mera and Aquaman searching for the elusive Trident. This momentarily takes them away from the action. It does, however, allow for the downtime needed to develop the characters individually as well as help them gravitate to each other. There is nothing better than an odd couple in a hero movie.
Of course, there is the core story of the war between the surface dwellers as the Atlantans. This is further driven by the relationship between the brothers. It is the catalyst that drives the above plots but more than that it provides tangible reasons to the conflict rather than simple domination.
The beauty of Aquaman and a big part of its success is the characters and them all having time to shine. To date, DCEU hasn’t let their villains develop or supporting characters either since Man of Steel. Aquaman rectifies this.
Mera gets a fantastic arc both in her relationship with Arthur and her personal growth. We watch as her feelings for Arthur grow as fast as her newfound love and appreciation for the surface. Over and above that, we get to see her fully utilize her powers in various ways from the start. She isn’t portrayed as this weak woman, but rather as a woman who is ready to sacrifice everything to do what is right. That’s the mark of a true hero. And when it came to power, they don’t hold back with here amazing gifts. Mera seems like she was the perfect next step for DCEU after Wonder Woman.
Black Manta was another breath of fresh air. While he was already a villain when we first met, it still went through a nice little developmental arc. Arthur is the one who helps create the supervillain. After Aquaman leaves his dad for dead he follows through on his promise for revenge. It lays the groundwork for him always chasing down the King of Atlantis to honor his father. The concept is unique as this type of arc is generally set aside for heroes. Having the villain have a noble course creates a different perspective. This puts him in line with the greats like Magneto and Thanos.
Wet, Wild and Wonderful
Aquaman isn’t this brilliantly acting our movies with great cinematography and a score to match. Nope, it is a typical tent house flick. However, it does have heart and tons of it. It isn’t dark, but it does tackle serious head-on. And while it has it serious and grounded moments, it never forgets to have a little fun.
DCEU obsession with all things dark stems from the success of anything Batman. Somehow along the way, they forgot the goldmine of other characters they have and their rich stories. It is ironic that once of their least like comic book heroes, it is the one to rise and return them to form. Or at least cement it after Wonder Woman.
If only they started this way, oh what a world it would be…