Long before he became a running gag on Entourage, Aquaman was already a joke. He’s inherently corny, a guy with total power and dominion in the ocean, where there are essentially no humans to protect. Aquaman is literally a fish-out-of-water on terrestrial Earth.
However, one of the best parts of the otherwise risible Justice League was Jason Momoa’s take on the character. Not only did he have that Khal Drogo swagger, Aquaman was funny, a dude-bro without the requisite self-delusion. It speaks volumes that Justice League actually left you wanting more Aquaman than the bigger stars toplining the movie.
Today, Warner Bros. released a five-minute trailer for Aquaman that gives us a long look at the upcoming film, due out Dec. 21.
Let’s start with the bad. Aquaman is going all-in on the fish-out-of-water angle. Half-human, half-Atlantean, Momoa’s Arthur Curry is established, over and over again, as the reluctant hero, one of the hoariest cliches in superhero cinema. There also looks to be some questing for magical items, which is also tired as hell. And Amber Heard’s Mera seems like she’s going to be there primarily to spout exposition and urge Arthur to finally “take your rightful place as king.”
So clearly, the story seems lacking. But let’s be real: We don’t come to these things for the plot, we come for over-the-top fights and visual effects. And on that count, it appears that Aquaman is going to deliver. Between Saw, The Conjuring and Insidious, director James Wan established serious horror bona fides before taking the leap to blockbuster filmmaking on Furious 7, one of the best entries in that series. This new trailer suggests he hasn’t lost his touch (check out the long continuous shot of Mera running over the rooftops). The action looks coherently, which is more than you can say for most of the DCEU thus far.
From a design standpoint, Atlantis looks amazing. Plus, the zero-g environments under the sea should allow for some inventive fight sequences and camerawork. And who doesn’t want to see a battle royale between armies saddled on giant sharks and seahorses.
Given the longtime skepticism surrounding this character, Aquaman looks like it might actually be good. At the very least, it doesn’t appear they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Aquaman swims into theaters on December 21.