With Aquaman hitting theaters next week, the cast’s press tour is in full swing, and if anything can be gleaned from the cavalcade, it’s that fans of the aquatic hero should enter theaters with trepidation.
While Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry made his big-screen debut in the 2017 Justice League film, this movie was directed by Zach Snyder, and was predictably a montage of ill-conceived action shots with any sort of character development or explanation of motive left on the cutting room floor. Not rising to the task of introducing the bulk of the cast of characters, Momoa’s portrayal of Aquaman was hard to judge, as he was mainly responding to internet memes about Aquaman being a lame superhero. For the record, while we’re on the topic, Aquaman is anything but lame, and abandoning the clean-shaven, upstanding image of Arthur Curry in the comics in favor of a more gruff Momoa was unnecessary, but these are the cards that have been dealt.
Is Momoa capable of stepping out of the supporting character role, only occasionally swinging his trident to be able to lead a full-fledged movie? If advance press is any indication, it’s not looking great. In interviews, Momoa comes across as awkward, lacking all confidence. This leaves interviewers in a position of having to fall back on what advertising for the film have been leaning heavily on: Momoa’s looks. Now, in a movie where the underwater city of Atlantis will play a central role, and has even received some positive press for its stunning visuals, it should be unnecessary to keep drawing attention to your leading man’s looks. After all, this is a superhero film. It’s pretty much a given that the leading man is going to be a hunk. The problem is, though, that Momoa doesn’t reach the handsome heights enjoyed by leading men in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, DC film’s biggest direct competitors, so it feels like a constant reminder that we’re just buying time until the next installment in a more compelling universe. Still, Jason Momoa in the Aquaman suit is a much more inspiring image than I anticipated.
Fans will be comforted by the necessary inclusion of Amber Heard as Mera. As queen of Atlantis, certainly chemistry between Momoa and Heard onscreen will be essential. If chemistry off-screen is any indication, fans should gear up for disappointment on this front, too. Heard, instead of interacting with cast and crew in between takes, lamented in a recent interview that she would spend hours in a harness, suspended on set reading a book. Feeling bad for crew members having to retrieve her book when she would throw it down in between scenes, the costumer designed a special bag made of green screen material to be worn, so she could stow her book while filming her scenes. I’m sure the effects artists are adept in hiding this bag, but it seems like an unreasonable burden to place on the digital team so Heard wouldn’t have to interact with her castmates.
As a long-time fan of Aquaman, and someone who owns the entire 1960s cartoon series on DVD, this writer, who had long-anticipated an Aquaman cinematic adventure, is gearing up for the same disappointment every DC film has delivered, except, of course, Wonder Woman, which remains perhaps the greatest comic book hero film produced. These foreboding currents won’t keep me from the theater to see my beloved King of Atlantis on the big screen, but it is with low expectations I take the plunge.
By: Dan Burkett