Yesterday, geek culture websites were on fire with the news that DC and Warner Bros. are “fast tracking” a solo Aquaman movie by commissioning two independent and competing scripts, presumably allowing the character to spin out from his rumoured (and as yet unconfirmed) appearance in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”.
Whilst DC fans and Marvel fans alike met the news with a sceptical outlook, it’s no doubt proof that Warner Bros. is serious about establishing that shared universe that Marvel has pioneered so impressively.
Even though casting for Aquaman has been long-rumoured to be nailed down, with Jason Momoa said to be firmed up for the role, any Aquaman movie is still a fair way off. However, could the King of the Oceans be the ace in the hole that DC and Warner Bros. needs?
Even though Marvel has a viable alternative in the Sub-Mariner, the studio is so busy exploring the skies that its future plans don’t seem to account for any exploration of the oceans.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” and even the Thor movies have proven that a movie set in, or at least greatly influenced by, a less grounded setting can capture audiences’ imagination and provide spectacular set pieces surrounded by strong character work.
Considering DC’s failed “Green Lantern” movie back in 2011, one could understand why Warner Bros. would be reluctant to re-visit a tale with outer space as a prominent plot point. Despite my advocation of a Green Lantern Corps movie, it’s a reasonable assumption that the next Green Lantern could be a more grounded affair.
That approach could leave DC with a geographical diversity issue that a look to the oceans could solve.
Aside from that fact, there’s little doubt that the oceans provide a spectacular setting for set pieces and the effects guys to have a field day with.
Compounding this thought is the fact that really, no one takes Aquaman that seriously.
By now, we’ve all read about Zack Snyder hijacking a local radio station that decided to ravage Arthur Curry verbally. The sentiment of the show’s hosts is one that is shared amongst many fringe comic book fans: Aquaman is a bit of a joke character and really just ‘talks to fish’.
Comic book stalwarts know that the character is far more than that, with great strength and Earth shattering super powers when put into context.
This fact alone gives any Aquaman movie a serious advantage that, with the proper marketing (see Guardians for just how to do that…) could really be capitalised on.
No one will be expecting a movie about the King of Atlantis to be kick-ass, even though when distilled right down (hell, it’s the King of Atlantis!) the character has a LOT of potential.
Done well, an Aquaman movie could surpass all expectations.
It’s Not the Justice League Without Him
There’s no doubt about this: the Justice League doesn’t feel like the Justice League without Aquaman. Every time the character has been absent from the group in a run of books, the group has felt like another team; Aquaman is integral.
And there’s a great reason for it: Aquaman is the hot head of the group – the warrior who will do whatever it takes to seek justice, vengeance or retribution.
He’s neither as altruistic as Clark Kent nor as cool, calculated and pragmatic as Bruce Wayne. He provides conflict and questioning; he butts up against the Justice League from within the Justice League itself.
Not only that, he has a hell of a spark with Diana, Wonder Woman, that the other strong male Justice League members are envious of.
Like Batman, he has a loyalty to his kingdom over and above any loyalty to the League but importantly from a business perspective, Aquaman is also expendable…
I’m undoubtedly not directly comparing the two, but we all saw how much of a galvanising force the death of Phil Coulson was for The Avengers, Arthur Curry could easily fulfil a very similar role for the Justice League.
Built up as an integral member of the team over the course of a few films, only to have the life ripped from him in a dramatic and meaningful manner, Arthur’s death would matter to the League.
This angle was utilised to great effect during the “Our Worlds at War” saga in print, yet on the business end, the League could do without him on screen whilst his absence wouldn’t really compromise the lure of audiences looking to see ‘the big three’ on screen.
Aquaman is a character that benefits from strong writing and a serious attitude: applied confidently to a movie treatment, the character could well prove to be DC’s unexpected ace in the hole.