Aquaman, the butt of many a joke amongst comic book aficionados and the television series Robot Chicken, may be on the cusp of no longer being a figure of fun.
With a cameo appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and a major appearance in Justice League, the character may finally be freeing himself from the shackles of being DC Comics most difficult to take seriously character and become, dare I say it, cool. With the helpful casting of Jason Mamoa, someone you would not want to mess with, what with being built like a wall, and putting across a tough aura thanks to roles in Game of Thrones and Conan the Barbarian, the character is set to be portrayed by someone you wouldn’t dare of joking about have relations with fish with.
Amazingly, this is the next step in pop culture actually taking the character more seriously than he has been in his history. Beginning with The New 52, a major relaunch of all DC titles in 2011, Geoff Johns’ run on the character saw Arthur Curry given a somewhat gritty makeover. The story and the look of the character was still what it always has been; king of the oceans, blonde hair, orange costume, but the stories were considerably darker, with a decidedly serious tone, not to mention his first appearance in the Justice League flagship title saw the character take out a plethora of Parademons by calling forth sharks from the ocean to eat the minions of Darkseid.
This attitude will not doubt help audiences come to the character with a sense of seriousness, not as a figure of fun, and with director James Wan calling the shots, there is the potential for a film that can mix fun, great set pieces, but be dark and serious when need to be. Wan has been building a very respectable career as one of Hollywood’s most prominent commercial filmmakers. Kick-starting his career with Saw, he has become one of the Hollywood’s most prominent directors of the horror genre, graduating to the bigger budgeted and massively successful Insidious and The Conjuring, before getting a crack as a massive budget and a bona fide blockbuster in the shape of Furious 7.
Showing himself capable to doing blockbusters with massive set pieces, and given that he handed Warner Bros. one of their biggest franchises at the moment, it seems only appropriate that he call the shots on one of their DC Cinematic Universe projects. With a cast that includes Amber Heard and Patrick Wilson, and with a sense of good will after the success of Wonder Woman, there is every reason to expect the film to be a pleasing commercial success.
Conan the Barbarian may not have worked, but Mamoa is a very capable leading man, and with his plethora of convention appearances to promote Justice League, has shown himself to be someone willing to throw himself into supporting the character and his work for the DC universe. Coming from Wan, the film has the potential to be fun, funny but with a touch of dark if need be, with the oceans of Atlantis having the potential to be both a place of wonder, mystery as well as deeply scary. If Wan has proven himself at anything, it’s that he can definitely do the latter.
While the character is infamous for being the butt of all those fish jokes, something that even Smallville acknowledged, not to mention some of the greatest moments of many a Robot Chicken episode, there is many a reason to expect potentially great things from the movie. If Wonder Woman proved anything, it’s that DC and Warner Bros. can craft great comic book movies if not as reliant on having to continue threads from movies that have had a mixed reception. Wonder Woman felt free from the shackles of the problems that many had with Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, and worked fantastically well.
If done right, Aquaman could become a great character and movie in his own right. Fingers crossed.
Aquaman will be released on December 21st in the US. Are you excited for it?