The much-awaited Aquaman was released this Yuletide by the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) with the hope of reversing the recent trend of a series of much-maligned superhero movies.
This DC’s epic story of a rugged underwater king starring Jason Momoa comes at an odd time for the DC Extended Universe.
While Aquaman is ostensibly set in the same timeline as Man Of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, and Justice League, you might have noticed that continuity seems to be hopelessly falling apart.
Current cinematic Superman Henry Cavill was fired by Warner Bros., and Ben Affleck is unlikely to return for a reprisal of his role as Batman.
Fans still love Wonder Woman, but one character isn’t enough to support a crumbling cinematic universe, right?
So in this perilous time for the franchise, the powers that be are letting it all ride on … Aquaman? Funny, right?
After three subpar movies failed at rejuvenating the two most famous superheroes in pop culture, Aquaman may very well decide the fate of the DC cinematic empire which is a little like putting the ball boy into the big game of football after a playmaker gets injured.
After all, Aquaman doesn’t exactly have the pedigree of Superman or Batman.
Why Has It Taken So Long For Aquaman To Hit The Big Screens?
Back in 2004, after Spider-Man and X-Men paved the way, there was talk about bringing Aquaman to the big screen.
But rumours had it that the producers wanted to make a “goofy screwball comedy” because “he’s such a stupid character.”
So now DC has to turn a much-maligned character into the saving grace of their movie-verse … which, when you think about it, is basically what Marvel once did.
Back when MCU set out to build its universe, it had already sold off its A-list characters like Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four.
So they instead had to rehabilitate C-listers like Thor (previously a gag in Adventures In Babysitting) and Iron Man (who most people thought was a robot).
Ergo by screwing up Batman and Superman so badly, DC has accidentally stumbled upon their competitor’s winning formula: They’re forced to try to make good movies with less popular characters.
Even the screenwriters of Avengers: Infinity War, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, suggested that this very tactic would work better for DC.
When asked how to mend the DCEU, Markus said: “I would look at what Marvel did out of necessity … Go through the vast world and go, ‘That guy’ or ‘That girl,’ and go, ‘Let’s just make a really good movie and not a universe and see what happens.'”
Making movies with less iconic characters also gives filmmakers more freedom, in that audiences bring less baggage of expectations with them.
Early positive reactions seemingly confirm that strategy’s success, with audiences comparing James Wan’s Aquaman to a “Phase 1 MCU film.”
Probably because it’s more interesting to have new characters revealed through their own origin stories than through a thumb drive Batman stumbles upon.