(Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)
Leveling the Playing Field, Movie by Movie
DC Comics continues to make up ground with rival, Marvel Studios.
No, DC has not passed Marvel up or equaled them. But “Aquaman” shows that the company continues to move in an upward trajectory after getting strong criticism from comic book movie fans over “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
And with “Aquaman,” DC Comics combines the traditional comic storyline of good versus evil with beautiful and colorful graphics, along with political commentary and advice that all people should heed.
In “Aquaman,” Queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman, “Destroyer”) has a little Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) from “Coming to America” in her.
She does not want to consent to the prearranged marriage her kingdom has set up for her so she flees to another land to escape the rigidity of her kingdom.
Atlanna washes ashore in Maine in 1985 and is rescued by a “land dweller” named Tom (Temuera Morrison).
After initial apprehension, Atlanna takes to life on the land, sipping tea, breaking television sets and eating goldfish.
Tom jokingly lets Atlanna know that he is O.K. with her eating his goldfish, just as long as she does not eat his dog.
The two people from two different worlds fall madly in love with each other as if God Himself predestined or preordained their fateful meeting.
The couple welcomes a baby boy named Arthur.
Almost immediately, Atlanna knows that there is something special about her little boy.
Since Arthur has roots in her kingdom of Atlantis and roots on the land, Atlanna believes that one day Arthur can unite the two worlds so that everyone on Earth (the land dwellers and the people of the ocean) can co-exist together.
Unfortunately, when the residents of Atlantis find out that Atlanna has shacked up with someone on the land, they immediately track her down.
Atlanna’s comrades from Atlantis snatch her from her home with Tom and Arthur and take her back to the sea.
Although Tom knows that it is unlikely that he will see his soul mate again, that does not stop him from going out to the edge of the ocean everyday to wait for his lady to return.
Additionally, Atlanna’s absence does not stop Tom from teaching Arthur about his royal heritage in Atlantis.
But Atlanna’s absence does leave a void in Arthur’s life that he cannot fill until he reconnects with his roots in Atlantis.
Throughout Arthur’s childhood he never really fit in with his classmates and peers.
Arthur is the victim of bullying because of his eccentricities, which become obvious to all when he is able to calm some raging sharks on a class field trip to a Boston aquarium.
Thanks to lessons from Vulko (Willem Dafoe), Arthur learns about his true gifts with the water and the animals that occupy the ocean.
Arthur (Jason Mamoa, “Justice League”) eventually uses his talents underwater to help those victimized by pirates at sea.
When Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen) and his father Jesse (Michael Beach, “If Beale Street Could Talk”) take over a submarine and begin killing those on board, Arthur comes to the rescue.
His reputation of taking down scavengers leads to television celebrity and the moniker, Aquaman.
But Manta’s reputation as a pirate has made him infamous to those who make their money on the sea.
And when Manta vows revenge on Aquaman for thwarting his attempt to take over a submarine, the criminal vows revenge against the man and myth known as Aquaman.
Manta eventually leads an attack against Atlantis, which persuades Arthur’s half-brother and an heir to the throne, King Orm (Patrick Wilson) to wage war against the land dwellers and restore Atlantis’ rightful place on Earth.
Unfortunately, King Orm does not have the approval needed to wage war.
He needs approval from four out of the seven kingdoms to wage war and he does not have that kind of support.
Orm does not even have the support of his fiancé, Mera (Amber Heard).
Mera travels to the land to inform her future brother-in-law about his half-brother’s plan for war.
She tells Arthur that he is the only one that can stop King Orm because he is the rightful heir to the throne.
Furthermore, because he is of land and sea descent, he is the only one who can bridge the gap between the two worlds and encourage all inhabitants of the Earth to live in harmony.
More importantly, if Arthur cannot stop Orm from becoming the ocean master, the world will be under his evil control, which is something the world cannot afford.
“Aquaman” does not cover much new ground for a superhero movie. But that does not stop it from being pretty darn good.
The colorful visuals, especially the underwater scenes, are a spectacle.
But what is most impressive about “Aquaman” is its inclusion of environmental politics.
While superhero movies like “Black Panther” dealt with the struggle of Africans and African-Americans at the hands of colonizers and slave traders, “Aquaman” talks about the impact that pollution and other atrocities have had on the planet, especially bodies of water.
Like Marvel superhero movies, “Aquaman” contains its comedic elements.
While “Aquaman” is no “Deadpool,” the movie has enough comedy to satisfy its audience.
When Arthur asks Tom why he can save lives underwater but cannot keep up with his father when it comes to consuming adult beverages, Tom tells him that drinking alcohol is his superpower.
While Mamoa is the star of Aquaman, Heard holds her own opposite the star of the movie.
Heard’s character Mera also brings comedy to the film, eating flowers in Italy as if the flowers were food.
Furthermore, “Aquaman” has enough momentum to make the almost two ½ hours fly by as if the movie clocked in under two hours.
Nevertheless, the fact that “Aquaman” covered no new terrain prevents the movie from reaching an exceptional level.
Although pretty darn good might not equal exceptional, “Aquaman” will put some heat on Marvel as they now have legitimate competition for superhero supremacy.
If DC Comics keeps up the good work, their haters will soon sing their praises, making the comic book universe a more interesting place for everyone.