Will Aquaman actually be good?
The question that has flooded the minds of comic book film fans and moviegoers for the past two years. From the moment Zack Snyder released that first image of Jason Momoa in full costume, a love/hate relationship has attached itself to the hype on the film. Let's dissect the talent behind this movie.
First thing, James Wan doesn't make a bad movie that often, if at all. From the Kevin Bacon revenge film Death Sentence to the pair of highly successful — and very freaky — Conjuring films, Wan doesn't take a shot and miss. Look at what he did with Furious 7, the soulful goodbye to Paul Walker that managed to emerge as the best movie of the eight films and a quality stopping point. In taking on the titular character that is best known as a running joke on HBO's Entourage, Wan was a fearless auteur who knew what he was doing. Remember, he was the guy who first blew your minds with Saw and the Insidious films.
So when first screenings a couple of weeks ago emerged with positive reviews, I wasn't surprised. "Sweeping" and "terrific action" sounds right in line with what Wan has done and could do in this DC Comic character's world. Momoa has been a larger-than-life asset since Emilia Clarke warmed his heart on HBO's Game of Thrones, but Arthur Curry could be his best role yet. The guy has action star written all over him, but hasn't been given the space to create such a journey just yet. It's like a great driver rolling around in a beat-up Honda Civic. The taste that fans got in last year's Justice League proved there's something worth chasing in Momoa's reluctant hero. He's certainly better than Vincent Chase.
Amber Heard is a willing heroism partner (she sparked a hidden Nicolas Cage gem called Drive Angry), and you could do worse than Patrick Wilson as the scornful villain who wants to wreck the ocean and Nicole Kidman as the bad-to-the-bone mother. Dolph Lundgren (who looked great in Creed 2) even has a blink and you'll miss it cameo in the trailer, adding some old school spectacle to the movie and proving the ageless Swede has legs in the big Hollywood game after all. Willem Dafoe and the voice of Julie Andrews won't hurt either.
As much as I've been worn out by the 17 different trailers for the movie over the past six months, I have faith in what Wan and Momoa have in store for us. The two-plus-hour running time doesn't scare me, because every single Marvel and DC Film story comes in around 145 minutes these days. It's how the director treats those two-and-a-half hours that cuts the difference. Of all the people who make Marvel flicks great, the editor gets the smallest celebratory alcoholic beverage. Kirk M. Morri may hold the key to how good Aquaman truly is.
Something else to like is the fact that the film carries two screenwriters and not six. There are three sets of hands on the story construction, but only David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Will Beall have lettering on the screenplay. Sometimes, it's better to have fewer minds passing the keyboard around when making something so important.
DC leadership also changed. Between day one and the wrap on Wan's film, the film saw new faces climb atop the DC ship and assume giant roles. After the colossal disappointment of Batman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice aka MARTHA! and Justice League, a shakeup was required and it happened. This comes into play when Wan brought the final cut to the office and it was sharpened into what is delivered in less than two weeks.
Don't sleep on the humor shown in the multiple trailers and Momoa's appearance in Justice League as a reason to have hope here. The dark and depressing nature of every DC adventure outside of Wonder Woman has served as a plague to the enjoyment level for fans. No one wants to see a Christopher Nolan knockoff retread. I'm talking to you, Snyder. People prefer a light flair with their burgeoning superhero tales. Look at Iron Man, Thor: Ragnarok, and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Yep, it's hard to talk about DC without mentioning the kid hogging all the food at the table in Marvel. Playing catch-up for the past eight years, DC Films needs another win. It's not good publicity to see eight different Batmans, three different Jokers and Superman sequels being discontinued. Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck came into their collective franchises with big plans and both either couldn't score a big enough solo hit at the box office or get a film off the ground. The writing on the wall is getting bigger, and if you don't think there's a competitive fire building inside with all the success Marvel is having with lesser-known actors and box office draws, you aren't paying attention. DC Films is desperate for a hit.
Against all odds, Aquaman may be it.