DC have unveiled the new poster for Aquaman’s solo outing. With positives and negatives, here are five things the Aquaman poster suggests about the upcoming movie.
Aquaman is directed by James Wan (Saw, Insidious, Fast and the Furious 7), and stars Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Amber Heard as Mera, Aquaman’s partner/wife in the comics, and Nicole Kidman as Queen Atlanna. It will be released on December 21, 2018.
DC have not had the best run of luck since the end of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, but that hasn’t stopped them from churning out films.
Noticeably, the franchise’s solo outings, Man of Steel and Wonder Woman, have had better returns, which is cause for optimism for Aquaman.
But does this first Aquaman poster suggest the royal Atlantean’s story?
Let’s break it down for you.
1 – The Aquaman Poster Reveals A Big Clue About the Film’s Setting
The first thing you will notice about this poster is: blue. It’s so blue. And there is a reason for it. This film is going to be set underwater.
The short glimpse we got of Aquaman’s home, Atlantis, in Justice League made it evident that no surface-dwellers would enjoy vacationing there. This is in keeping with Atlantis’ long history in the comics of being suspicious of landlubbers (and sometimes waging war on them).
Justice League may have had a lot of problems, but the Atlantis scene was definitely not one of them. It was a bit of an unexpected highlight, actually.
The underwater effects were breathtaking and seamless… except for when the characters had to speak to each other. The directors had Mera create a giant air bubble within which she and Aquaman could converse. It didn’t seem like a very practical way for an underwater people to communicate, as many noted. Even Aquaman director James Wan agreed.
How exactly will Wan have real actors speak underwater? He has already mentioned that shooting the scenes has been tricky, which is some cause for concern.
The special effects of the DCEU films have been diminishing in quality, but Aquaman, more than any other film, will rely heavily on getting even the smallest use of CGI absolutely correct.
However, Wan has done amazing things on small budgets (his debut film was Saw), which fills us with a little more confidence.
2 – A Family Story
The tagline on the Aquaman poster looms large – ‘Home is Calling’. It is surprisingly calm – perhaps even tame – compared to the bombastic taglines that have appeared in the DCEU.
‘Accomplish Wonder’ for Man of Steel. ‘It Feels Good to be Bad’ for Suicide Squad. Wonder Woman’s ‘Wonder. Power. Courage.’. ‘Stronger Together’ and ‘You Can’t Save the World Alone’ for Justice League.
What does it mean for Aquaman to have such a tagline?
Well, it was evident from the one Atlantis scene in Justice League that Aquaman had done his people no favours by heading to the surface. His meeting with Mera, following a disastrous fight with Steppenwolf, made it clear that Mera and her fellow Atlanteans thought of Aquaman as an unfit leader who had run away from his responsibilities.
‘Home is Calling’ suggests a return to roots, reuniting with family and friends. We will likely see Aquaman evolving out of his rebellious phase and heading back to Atlantis for good, so as to take over the throne left to him by his mother, Queen Atlanna.
Director James Wan is also known for focussing on characters to drive the plot. His horror films have put people and their relationships at the forefront, even as he scares us silly in the background (and now you’re looking for the lipstick-faced demon behind your chair).
The DCEU hasn’t done a great job with its characters so far; if Wan can change that it will be a positive step for the franchise.
3 – Fish Talk
In the DC comics-verse, Aquaman has super-strength, the ability to swim at great speeds and a telepathic connection to all marine life. Before the numerous DC comics reboots, Aquaman could technically communicate with… fish.
The reboots altered this power slightly, giving him empathetic control over marine animals instead of direct telepathic communication.
Justice League made a nod to this ability, including a scene where Bruce Wayne asks Aquaman whether it is true he can talk to fish. Aquaman says something along the lines of “The water does the talking”, but we never actually see any fish-talking in action.
That seems set to change with Aquaman. Just look at the number of aquatic creatures on this poster!
At first glance, your visual cortex will be overloaded by the number of great white sharks, mako sharks and killer whales, all neatly spaced out.
Study the poster a bit more and you see a handful of rays, porpoises, swordfish, a couple of turtles and some small fish far in the background.
Oh, and there’s Aquaman dead centre, resting on a coral reef.
If this film doesn’t have Aquaman talking to fish, whether telepathically or not, we are going to have serious words, James Wan.
4 – 3D Spectacle
Posters for blockbusters usually always include a ‘See it in 3D’ line somewhere and Aquaman is no different. All blockbusters are released in both 3D and 2D, even though the vast majority are definitely not made for 3D.
2D to 3D conversions do absolutely nothing for the film. In fact, the conversion process tends to darken the film, making the viewing experience poor. However, this marketing gimmick seems to not want to go away.
Let us put the cynicism aside for a second because Aquaman has been shot entirely on digital cameras, which would likely make for better 3D conversion. And that is something to get excited about. 2011’s Sanctum was a 3D extravaganza set entirely in a cave under water. Executive produced by post-Avatar James Cameron, the film was shot in 3D and the result was a terrifyingly immersive experience.
Aquaman may not be using the same technology, but even with the limited effects of 3D conversion, it could be a thrilling watch. Just don’t hold your breath!
5 – There Is Always a ‘But’…
Look, when you’re scrolling through Twitter and this Aquaman poster appears in your timeline, you can’t help but stop to look at it. The overtly azure tone, the sinister marine life… it’s a beautiful aesthetic. But, as with so many aspects of the DCEU, this poster, though beautiful, does not hold up to scrutiny.
The Digital Fox team had a range of thoughts about it, everything from ‘it looks fan-made’ to ‘the poster doesn’t offend me but doesn’t excite me’ to ‘it’s like the movie poster version of a traffic accident’.
We get that this film is set underwater, and we are excited at the prospect, but that fact does not need to be rammed down our throats by having a 100 different fish coming at us on the poster.
It is a bit much, especially as the fish all look a) fake b) clone-stamped c) not diverse. The ocean is rich with animals of all kinds and the makers of this poster went for… 4-5 scary species.
We do not expect every species of fish to have its place on the poster, but at least have a selection that could allude to the dynamics of Atlantean society. Instead, we mostly have bigger and notorious fish on display, suggesting yet another conglomeration of fist-fights and little else in the film.
Do we really need more militarism in the DCEU? Does everyone have to be a fighter? Doesn’t anyone just talk any more?
The mixed perspectives don’t help either. The sharks closest to Aquaman look too small in comparison to him. We know how large Great Whites and Hammerheads can get; if they are indeed swimming that close by, how are they so small?
You know what we would have liked to see a bit more of on this poster instead of evenly-spaced fish? Atlantis. Everybody loves the idea of Atlantis but we have barely got a glimpse of it in the DCEU. The underwater city is in the background but there is no majesty to it. We want more!
Despite Justice League’s problems, Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry/Aquaman was actually a really fun part of it and fans have been psyched for his solo outing.
This poster probably does not do the upcoming film justice (see what I did there?) but it is enough to whet fans’ appetites for the real deal.
This poster promises an adventurous, slightly serious, family-orientated superhero story that might be a little crazy but will make us suspend our disbelief a bit.
More than anything, it looks like Aquaman is going to be a lot of fun.