Aquaman is available on HBO NOW.
Aquaman has had a rough go of it for decades. Poor Arthur Curry seemed like the superhero everyone liked to pick on. From Conan O’Brien to comic book fans around the world, he was treated like a joke. Namor certainly never seemed to get this sort of abuse. Yet, despite being the king of Atlantis and a founding member of the Justice League, Aquaman never was taken seriously.
It seemed like the DC Extended Universe would turn things around. After all, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done wonders for Iron Man and Thor. Instead, he somehow became a bigger geek. His makeover from from fish nerd to surfer bro became the subject of memes. It seemed like Aquaman would forever be a swimming gag.
Then, something funny happened on the way to the Aquaman movie. The DCEU began to unravel at the seams. Aside for Wonder Woman, movie goers scoffed at each of the releases. The best people would say about a character was, “They weren’t that bad.” The one exception was of all people, Aquaman. People felt Jason Momoa was perfectly cast. And while he was the subject of plenty of GIFs, he also brought a charm the otherwise dreary DCEU movies were missing. Still, everything was against Aquaman being a good movie.
When the movie opened in late December of 2018, audiences and critics were stunned. While it was not universally praised, it received some of the best reviews of a DCEU movie. Momoa’s performance was lauded. Many saw the movie as a fun and action packed ride. The adaptation that should have been the worst of them was arguably one of the best. Box office receipts seemed to validate the reviews. Aquaman went on to gross over $1 billion. It is the highest grossing entry of the DCEU and the highest grossing movie about a DC character. Audiences genuinely enjoyed Aquaman.
The inevitable sequel has already been confirmed. The character is no longer the joke he was just a few short years ago. Most importantly, the DCEU has a blueprint for what to do with their shared universe. Obviously, copying exactly what the MCU is doing would not be the best way to go. But it is also clear the gloom and doom path they chose also was not a sustainable idea. Aquaman proved that audiences were willing to accept a colorful DC movie that is willing to poke fun at itself. It may be hard to believe, but Aquaman may have saved the DC Extended Universe.