The DC Extended Universe (that is, the entire “universe” in which all the recent DC films take place) has been left in the wake of Marvel’s success for some time now following the lack of support for Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017). However, with the Avengers storyline wrapping up this year and with it Marvel’s “Phase 3” films, it seems the DCEU might just have an opening… and about time.
The audience isn’t taken on a complete original story for Aquaman (Jason Momoa), as is typical of the first film using a superhero but is instead led through the character’s ascension to becoming the King of Atlantis: a storyline that is highly appealing and captivating through to its conclusion.
Wan’s interpretation of the story differs from the prior comic book versions, but in changing aspects of characters, most notably Orm (Patrick Wilson) who differs from being the villain “Ocean Master” to being the main antagonist and current King of Atlantis who wants to become the “Ocean Master”. Black Manta’s (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) original story is presented and is done so in perhaps a slightly melodramatic fashion, which does stray from the source material, although his signature attire and set of abilities firmly place him as a fan favourite.
The action within the film was excellently filmed and occurred at reasonable intervals. The fluidity of the cinematography (CGI assisted) coupled with the fight choreography made for some wholly entertaining stand-offs especially noting the finale to the epic third act. The CGI use was heavy (it did primarily take place underwater, after all) but settings like Atlantis were vibrant and the variety of fish-folk didn’t look uncomfortably uncanny. All the actors delivered solid performances and Momoa’s portrayal of Aquaman was as fun as you’d expect apart from some forced, poor jokes that felt aimed towards the younger demographic.
Overall, the direction Wan took with the production of Aquaman felt like a breath of fresh, sea air closer to that of the celebrated Wonder Woman than the prior films. Here’s to hoping DC can maintain that.