If we’re going to understand this ‘Aquaman’ movie, we have to get to know all the relevant players.
Before we talk about the first trailer for Aquaman, the James Wan-led DC Comics film that hits theaters next year, we have to talk about what’s at stake: nothing. The state of DC Comics films appears to be in such flux that there are almost no bad ideas. It seems unlikely that Ben Affleck will return for another Justice League movie. They might make another Superman movie at some point. And everyone’s rooting for Wonder Woman 1984 to improve upon an already good first film. Everything else is chaos. Which is a fitting description, I suppose, for a company with at least two movies about The Joker brewing. There are no bad ideas on the DCEU. Remember that for later.
On to the first Aquaman trailer, which was presented to the throbbing masses at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend. It provides a great first look at a vibrant yet still unfinished world in which DC tries out its reluctant king hero’s journey.
My gut reaction: Great, fun, fine. I find Jason Momoa to be infinitely fascinating as an actor and this is his weirdest role. He’s simultaneously the most bro-y and most charming person I’ve encountered. If he were to befriend Rob Gronkowski and Channing Tatum and star in some sort of buddy cop thruple movie, my brain would melt. Also, whatever James Wan is building here is clearly unfinished, but even its unfinished state is far more vibrant and interesting than anything we’ve seen from the DC movies to date. And not just because it is being properly lit or that color is being allowed to sneak into all that grittiness. Wan appears to have populated his film with a number of characters who seem fun. Or at the very least, I want to know more about them.
With that in mind, here’s a list of the XX characters I can’t wait to meet in Aquaman.
1. This Shark
He’s adorable. And the presence of little Arthur “The Omen” Curry makes him wag his tail like a dog. It makes you think, “What if I had a shark as a pet, but it behaved like a dog? That would be awesome.” And that’s part of the appeal of Aquaman right there. Sharks who behave like dogs.
2. Sassy Sex Pirate Aquaman
He’s like Jack Sparrow, but this guy fucks.
3. The Final Effects on Mera’s… Wetsuit?
“Make her look like she’s been dipped in digital glitter. No, no. More like it would look in Who Framed Roger Rabbit!”
4. Whoever Temuera Morrison is Playing
Just kidding, I know he’s playing Thomas Curry, Aquaman’s human dad who hooks up with Queen of the Seas Nicole Kidman. Anyway, just wanted to shout out Temuera Morrison. That guy rules in everything.
5. This Turtle
Right there in the middle. I want to know his story.
6. Oh Shit! Patrick Wilson!
I was aware of the fact that Patrick Wilson was in this movie the first time I watched the trailer but didn’t realize that he was the blonde underwater samurai guy until this point in the trailer (which is far later than I’d like to admit). That hair is gonna be so weird. But also, Patrick Wilson always kinda rules, too. There are great people in this movie who will be subject to whatever the finished CGI looks like. Don’t forget that.
7. These Atlantian Soccer Bros
After watching Iceland in the World Cup, I didn’t think fandom could get any weirder. But these guys are fascinating.
8. Black Manta
This is Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who we’ve previously seen in Netflix’s The Get Down, starring as Black Manta. Here’s something I found on the Black Manta Wikipedia page that I find interesting: “Black Manta and Aquaman battled repeatedly over the next several years. During one of these clashes, it is revealed that Black Manta is actually black, whose stated objective at one point was for black people to dominate the ocean after having been oppressed for so long on dry land (though this goal was revealed to be a ruse he used to trick Cal Durham into following him, and this objective was not at all evident in either his earlier or later appearances). During most of his appearances, his main goals are defeating Aquaman and gaining power for himself through the conquest of Atlantis. Finally, Manta kills Arthur Curry, Jr., Aquaman’s son, which leaves Aquaman obsessed with revenge.”
I feel like there’s going to be a small wave of op-eds comparing this DC movie to Marvel’s Black Panther. And I’m not sure yet if that’s going to be something I can get behind. It’s a hero/king story and there’s an element of Black Manta’s story that feels in the same vein as Killmonger. The only problem is that Aquaman definitely isn’t Black Panther. And Atlantian culture, which is great and fun and very fancy, isn’t Wakandan culture. It’s really not the same. But someone’s going to go there. It’ll be interesting to see which way James Wan’s movie ultimately leans — into the potential parallels or away from them.
9. Dolph Lundgren? Willem Dafoe? Neither?
Someone hit me up on Twitter and let me know who that is. It could also be Graham McTavish, I guess.
10. These Guys on Sea Horses
It’s going to be so funny when Avatar 2 looks like a rip-off of Aquaman in a few years.
11. Wait, What?!
Oh right, Black Manta. He’s got a rad helmet. Also…
I’m here for it.
13. This Heroic Crab-Thing
This crab-like creature of the deep (side note: never go in the ocean, these things are close enough) gets the best death in the trailer. He (or she) gets chomped by what appears to be a shark with an alligator’s head. We don’t know anything about this uber-crab. They might not even be on the right side of this. That could be Aquaman himself riding the gatorshark and it turns out that Ole’ Crabish was really an asshole. But I want to know more about it and that’s what trailers are for, in the end.
14. This Sheep
Where’s he going?
15. Sea Queen Nicole Kidman
Stunning, as per usual.