Once home to Earth’s most advanced civilization, Atlantis is now an underwater kingdom ruled by the power-hungry King Orm. With his vast army, Orm plans to conquer the remaining oceanic people – and then the surface world. Standing in his way is Aquaman, his half-human, half-Atlantean brother and true heir to the throne. With help a royal counselor, Aquaman must retrieve a legendary artifact and embrace his destiny as protector of the deep.
For those in the TL;DR crowd, I’ll just say upfront that I really enjoyed the film. You can read further for a more detailed explanation, but Aquaman is exactly the soft reboot needed for the universe. With the shaky start they’ve had in previous films, this one gives me hope for the future. The tone is lighter and there are some amazing action sequences. In fact, some of the fight scenes had me thinking I was watching the cinematic portions of a video game. All in all, I thought it was very entertaining. Continue reading and you’ll understand why.
And, yes, despite it being a rare in the DCEU, there is a mid-credits scene, setting up a sequel.
An obvious sign of the course correction being attempted by Warner Brother’s DCEU
It’s no secret that the DCEU films have been hit and miss so far. I would personally argue most of that is dependent on personal preference. It’s obvious, though, that there have been competing ideas as to just what the universe is meant to be. Zack Snyder was the filmmaker who started the whole thing, and he obviously had a much darker, grittier vision. Personally, I’ve enjoyed all of the films thus far, but a lot of fans had a problem with previous characterizations. To each his own. Even if you were OK with the overall tone of the films, however, they have had their downsides. For my money, most of this has been due to the fact that they’ve spent too much time trying to set up the universe, rather than simply making quality films, but your mileage may vary.
One thing that’s for certain is you can immediately tell Aquaman is meant to be something different. Attempts to connect it to the greater DCEU are minimal, at best, and the tone is much, much lighter. Aquaman is not your dark, tortured superhero in this film. Rather, he’s a joke-cracking, lighthearted guy, who just so happens to be half-Atlantean. He’s the type of guy you want to have a drink with, and honestly that’s perfect for Jason Momoa. The casting couldn’t have been better, and they’re obviously soft-rebooting the universe, and doing a pretty great job.
The success of Aquaman is a great thing for genre fans everywhere
Up to this point, it’s been pretty clear Marvel has ruled the proverbial roost when it comes to comicbook movies. There’s nothing wrong with that, because truthfully they have been great. Going even further, you can add Star Wars as another Disney property, even though the genre isn’t exactly the same. The thing they share, however, has been their dominance in so-called nerd culture in general.
The thing is there’s a lot of great stories out there that don’t fall under their banner. DC Comics has a history that is arguably just as rich as that of Marvel. As a fan, it would have been tragic if they stopped making these movies and exploring their universe on screen. Hopefully, the apparent success of Aquaman may have kept that from occurring, and I‘d argue we are all better off for it. Regardless of which comic imprint holds that special place in your heart, having more genre programming is a great thing. Luckily, it looks like Aquaman may signal more of that in the future, and I couldn’t be happier.
My final thoughts on Aquaman
In the end, Aquaman is the best indicator yet of where the DCEU is headed, and it’s not bad. In fact, I thought it was a pretty great film. It was a rousing watch with amazing visuals and the right mix of lightheartedness and gravity. That said, there were some issues and odd choices. For example, it was a bit campy for my tastes. Also, it seemed to me the secondary villain should’ve been the primary antagonist, but I suspect there was a method to that proverbial madness. Namely, I think this was all about establishing Arthur Curry as a bonafide DCEU hero on his own. Later, there will be plenty of time to explore Black Manta as a major nemesis for Aquaman.
In the meantime, what we have here functions much like an early MCU origin story, and that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s what the DCEU got right with Wonder Woman, their only other big success before now. I’m hoping there will still be a path to exploring serious stories in the DCEU, but they jumped the gun on the dour stuff previously, and audiences obviously weren’t ready for it. Making fun, entertaining films that stand on their own should’ve been the focus all along. Aquaman is an example of them righting the ship, and it was pretty great.