For the longest time, Aquaman was the punchline at the end of every superhero joke. While other heroes in the Justice League blasted meteors out of orbit and defeated criminals while running faster than the speed of light, Aquaman hung out underwater talking to fish.
It was not a good look for a superhero who was actually the King of Atlantis and master of all sea life, equipped with super strength, a magic trident and telepathy powers. After years of being ignored and belittled by the general public, DC comics decided that Aquaman needed a revamp to make him relevant again.
Enter Jason Momoa
Fresh off of Game of Thrones, where he was known for playing the fearsome Khal Drogo, Jason Momoa got a call from DC about playing one of their characters. He assumed it was going to be an edgy anti-hero like Lobo. Instead, Momoa was offered the part of Aquaman.
It was an unexpected choice, but also a shrewd one. When fans found out that Khal Drogo was the new Aquaman, it was clear that this iteration of the character was going to be a far cry from the fish guy who used to be the butt of so many jokes.
Appearing In Justice League
The first test for Momoa’s Aquaman was his appearance in Justice League alongside the other DC heroes. Audience reception for the character was mixed. Their were a lot of things wrong with that film, but Momoa was solid in his role. Most of Aquaman’s back story remained unexplored, but he acquit himself well in the fight scenes and humorous moments.
The real test for Aquaman now lies in his first solo film releasing new month. DC has come under fire for allowing Zack Snyder to craft a bleak and humorless DC extended Universe. It also came under fire for trying to make Justice League more jokey and irreverent. No matter what DC does, it cannot seem to strike the right balance between audience appreciation and critical acclaim that MCU fans take for granted.
Making The Right Moves
Now, though DC is in no place to take risks with the Aquaman film. For a studio that is often accused of interfering too much with the creative process, studio execs are said to have taken a more hands-off approach with this project.
They also have director James Wan creating the underwater world of Atlantis. Wan has proved his chops with the Conjuring and Fast and Furious franchises, and seems to be the ideal person to tell a story of underwater horrors and action-packed land adventures.
The cast of Aquaman is also as distinguished as you can expect. There's Nicole Kidman playing the role of Aquaman AKA Arthur Curry’s mother. Patrick Wilson, Willem Defoe, Amber Heard and Yahya Abdul-Yateen II are all shown to have exciting, vibrant characters in the trailer, so the movie won’t be relying only on Momoa to do the heavy lifting.
Giving Fans What They Want
Most crucially, the trailers have been careful to include plenty of jokes and quips. Clearly, DC is eager to tell fans that this movie is going to be a lot more fun than Man of Steel or Batman V Superman were. That might be a problem, after all it was Justice League’s eagerness to stuff jokes into the plot even at the expense of taking away from the gravity of the situation that led many critics to accusing it of being a poor copy of Marvel’s more quip-worthy offerings.
It will be interesting to see what kind of a movie we finally get to see when Aquaman hits theaters next month. With the pressure of reviving the DCeU on the shoulders of the character who was once the laughing stock of the comic world, there will be a certain poetic justice if Aquaman ends up becoming the critical and commercial hit that saves the future of the DCeU. Not to mention allowing DC fans to finally breathe a sigh of relief, and most importantly laugh with a DC film rather than at it.