Can one picture change your opinion about an upcoming movie?
That’s what I’ve been wondering ever since Zack Snyder dropped the first image of the new Jason Momoa Aquaman who will appear in a cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and then in his own solo film in 2018. I’m already on record that I still don’t care about Aquaman even if he’s going to look like Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones. Now that we have our first official look at Momoa in character, he looks pretty much as I imagined he would, which is to say like a mash-up of Khal Drogo and Aquaman:
You can focus on what exactly to make of the “Unite the Seven” tagline that comes with the picture of Momoa. According to BadAssDigest, it’s a reference to the seven members of the cinematic Justice League, with the seventh member beyond Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman most likely being Green Lantern. You can also go crazy trying to decipher Momoa’s tattoos, or take a deep dive into geek with some kind of analysis of his armor. I more care that this Aquaman is probably going to make it harder on us to crack jokes about him.
Similar to how casting Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman signaled a significant departure from the way the character had always been drawn in the comics, Jason Momoa’s Aquaman is a new look for the character, at least new to me.
It’s pretty significantly removed from the Super Friends Aquaman:
It looks even cooler than the hook-hand version that started in 1994 when Aquaman became kind of a bad-ass ever he lost his hand and replaced it with a detachable hook, like an awesome, Captain Hook-style pirate:
I am reminded of when I first saw Chris Hemsworth as Thor. Prior to the first Thor film, all I knew about Thor was that he was a Norse god, and the little girl from Adventures in Babysitting loved the comic book version, wearing an adorable helmet with lighting bolts on the sides. I didn’t even know enough to know if Chris Hemsworth even looked like the character in the comics. I just knew that from the pictures from the film I thought he looked like a less exaggerated Fabio.
I had no idea that the film was going to turn out to be a fish out of water comedy with Shakespearean family drama, giving us Marvel Studios’ most enduring villain, Loki. In that context, I quickly adapted to a superhero who looked like Fabio because I actually cared about him, made forever a fan the moment he threw a coffee cup to the ground to signal that he was thirsty and wanted more, unfamiliar with the idea that they would simply pour more liquid into the existing cup.
The key difference is that I actually like how this new Aquaman looks whereas with Thor I was instantly turned away by how he looked. It’s still ultimately dependent on the movie being good. The funny thing is that the New 52 version of Aquaman has a new origin story which, to me, plays out like slight slight reversal of Thor’s in that he grows up a normal human being only to be thrown into Atlantis where his half-brother Orm desires power and seeks to prevent his rightful ascension to the throne.
Of course, for anyone who doesn’t read comics and even for some who do, it’s simply been difficult to take Aquaman seriously ever since the sappy old ’70s cartoon Super Friends. The same could have also been said about Batman after the Adam West TV series. Then Frank Miller’s iconic graphic novels and Tim Burton’s first Batman film changed all of that. At one point, no one paid much attention to Iron Man, and Robert Downey, Jr. changed that. So, it doesn’t matter if Aquaman was so goofy in Super Friends, or that he was slightly laughable in Smallville just as it’s not important that HBO’s Entourage devoted multiple seasons to mocking the mere idea of an Aquaman film. A good Aquaman film can completely redefine the character for everyone, though it won’t mean we can’t still laugh at a good South Park parody:
To this point, because I am not an Aquaman comic book reader nothing in pop culture has ever given me the impression that I should take him seriously. The same was once true of Thor, though. You see how these things can change. So, dDid this first picture of Jason Momoa as Aquaman change my mind? Not really because it is still ultimately just a picture, not even a color-corrected one at that. We still don’t actually know what colors his costume just as we keep hearing that Gal Gadot’s actual costume has far more color in it than the early Zena-esque picture indicated. However, back when I first saw Chris Hemsworth as Thor I was instantly not interested in seeing anything more from him. Cut to today and Thor is one of my favorite members of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So, I am prepared for the possibility that Aquaman could turn out to be kind of awesome, but that’s a lot to hang on just one picture. Plus, his actual film won’t come around until 2018.
And now I remember that these are all the same people who made Man of Steel, and are calling the sequel Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as if it was some kind of dang court case, and also as if simply putting Batman and Superman in a film together wasn’t enough they had to force in Justice League set-up. As such, I must remember to considerably lower my expectations.