When I first heard about the Aquaman movie I was underwhelmed. The DC Universe superhero movies have always been hit and miss for me, with mostly misses. Batman Begins and the Dark Knight were great, but Man of Steel and the Green Lantern were not. Still… I started hearing good things…
One night during a storm, a woman washes up out of the sea at a lighthouse. The lighthouse keeper rescues her, they fall in love and have a baby.
Then, a few years later, people in high-tech suits show up to capture the woman, who is actually Atlanna, the Queen of Atlantis. She fights back with her trident and superpowers. It turns out she fled Atlantis to flee an arranged marriage, but now she’s forced to go back and face the music.
The young boy grows up to be Jason Momoa. He can breathe underwater and talk to sea animals. One day, a mysterious woman from Atlantis appears, asking him to claim the throne so his half-brother Orm can’t rally the Atlantian armies and attack the surface world.
Jason Momoa plays Arthur, A.K.A. quaman. I still remember him as the guy they brought into Stargate Atlantis in season 2, as their version of Teal’c from SG-1. He’s turned into a member of the new generation of Action heroes since then; at least I think so — playing Conan, Khal Drogo, and now Aquaman. The movie is his origin story. He brings a sense of levity and fun to the DC Universe that many of the other movies lacked.
Amber Heard is Jason’s love interest Y’Mera, but she’s also a driving force behind the plot. Arthur would have stuck to his simple life if Y’Mera hadn’t pushed him to act. She also saves his life and his father’s and steers him in the right direction. The movie is about Aquaman, obviously, but she does make a good side-kick.
Patrick Wilson is Arthur’s half-brother Orm. His mother’s flight shaped his life. Where Arthur had to live without his mother, Orm had to live with being the son from a forced marriage. The only reason he exists is because his mother was forced back to his father at gunpoint. And then she was taken away from him and executed on account of his half-brother. He has something to prove, and he hates Arthur on general principle.
Finally, I have to mention Willem Dafoe — you know, because it’s Willem Dafoe. He plays Orm’s Vizier, but he also secretly trained Arthur in his powers in the hopes of making him King. An interesting mentor, to say the least.
A friend of mine called this movie Star Wars underwater. He has a point. It features an origin story where a beautiful woman tells the bumpkin with magical powers ‘Arthur, you’re our last hope’. They go on a trip to a wondrous underwater world, filled with strange creatures. Of course, this can also be seen as another incarnation of the monomyth, with special effects added for flavor.
Regardless, I liked the movie. Like Wonder Woman it’s not dark and broody, but upbeat and fun. Humor is one of the things that separates the Marvel movies from the DC ones. After the Batman trilogy and Man of Steel, I half expected Batman vs. Superman to be two guys grunting their disapproval of the evil world in a dark basement. And in some ways it was, I think.
Aquaman is not that. It’s fun. If you like an action movie with bulky men and curvy women in scaly bathing suits, with some humor and a pretty okay story thrown in, go watch Aquaman.