Summary: I watched Aquaman. I saw a good flick (here’s my review) – and the future of superhero films. It will blow your minds today. In ten years you will say this was obvious.
Let’s do the obvious first. Aquaman is a fun flick. The cinematography is excellent. The undersea cities show a level of imagination seldom seen in films, as does the the giant battle scene at the end. It gives us glimpses of the undersea world more stunning than anything in Avatar.
The acting is good. Jason Momoa perfectly plays Aquaman, giving him a depth seldom seen in the comics. Amber Heard nicely portrays Princess Mera (in a fun interview. Heard does not understand the genre; she thinks it is serious drama with more than cardboard characters). The big bads are done with skillful intensity by Patrick Wilson and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.
The music is heavy-handed, without a trace of subtly (perhaps that’s what American audiences want). The script is mediocre, giving the actors little to work with.
Watch it as you should all modern superhero films. Do not ask “why” about anything. Stuff happens. There are lots of well-timed explosions. The viewers get information from crude expositions, not the natural flow of the action. The tropes are those you have seen scores or hundreds of times. A guy’s coming of age story. The hero’s journey. The hero and big bad fight at the start – the hero gets his ass kicked. They fight at the end – with (no spoilers!) XXX winning. The well-balanced, brilliant, beautiful girl falls in love with the big strong doofus. (There is zero chemistry between the guy and gal in Aquaman. Dude, she’s marrying you because you’re the King!)
Aquaman closely follows the hero’s journey – the great monomyth in which a hero goes on an adventure, encountered a crisis, wins a victory, and then comes home changed into a new man (there are 10 -20 steps to the journey). Joseph Campbell described this in his great work The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I felt that I had seen this film a thousand times before. In a sense, I had. Also, must every action film end with two guys beating on each other?
I saw Aquaman in IMAX. The big screen was nice, although I am uncertain if it was worth the extra money.
The secret: how superhero films will evolve
“Please let us continue the tradition of telling stories about men who proudly don’t care about anything thrust into positions of power and authority purely by dint of birthright. I mean, as long as they have some smart, dedicated, noble-minded women around to support them and guide them and show them the way to wise manhood, that’s fine, right? Like, maybe some women who have been working toward whatever lofty goals the man will eventually ‘achieve’ even though he’s just arrived on the scene and, as previously noted, couldn’t give a shit about the things they will now step aside and let him take all the credit for.”
— “Deep blah sea” by MaryAnn Johanson at Flickfilosopher. She nails it.
How many films have you seen where the woman is far better – in most or all ways (especially intelligence) – than the male lead?
- Princess Lea would have made a better Jedi than her twin brother Luke, who was a doofus at the start.
- In Ant-Man and the Wasp, the Wasp was stronger both intellectually and morally than Ant Man.
- In Black Panther, T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri, would have made a better Black Panger (ruler of Wakanda) than T’Challa.
- The nameless Valkyrie is an Einstein compared to Thor in Thor: Ragnarok. – and would better rule the survivors of Asgard.
- Wonder Woman rightly says in Justice League, her partners are like children to her.
- Mera would make a better ruler of Atlantis than Aquaman. She kicks ass with the best of them – with no weapons, simple weapons, or using her magic powers. And she is smart.
In all of these films, there is a moment in which the female lead visibly wonders “why am I not running this show?” Look at their plots. The big male heroes (and often the villains) are guys with too much testosterone, thinking with their balls and their fists, whose motives a 16-year old girl would consider crude. The bad King of Atlantis is a moron. It does not occur to his testosterone-poisoned brain to reveal Atlantis to the surface world – and trade their superior tech for a cleaner ocean. Like most dumb-ass superhero protagonists, Aquaman stumbles his way to success without a glimmer of intelligence (except for one scene totally out-of-character with the rest of the film – in which he shows extraordinary knowledge of ancient history).
Do not assume that the Social Justice Warriors who run Hollywood produce these unaware. Unawoke. They show us a world ruled by toxic masculinity. Fortunately, there are glimmers of a better future world. For example, in films and on TV men almost never initiate kisses. Momoa’s acting tour de force is Aquaman, the brew-swilling bruiser, bewildered – like a shy virgin (what do I do now?) – when Mera kisses him. Women initiate kisses in films and TV. This must baffle teenage boys, future incels, waiting – politely, respectfully – in vain for girls to kiss them.
The solution comes, film by film. The Black Widow. The Wasp. Wonder Woman. Captain Marvel. These heroines are practically perfect in every way. Well suited (and coiffed) to lead testosterone-poisoned male heroes..
To see the future of super-hero films, look to their history in comics. The Wasp takes over the Avengers (Ant Man is an abuser; Iron Man an alcoholic). Storm takes over the X-Men (Cyclops becomes a dick). Shuri becomes queen of Wakanda. Maria Hill becomes director of SHIELD (naturally, since in the films she seems better suited to lead than Nick Fury – who alternates between stupid and evil).
Watching this evolution in films, a new generation of children will be woke. Girls will become leaders. Boys – squished by school, often drugged if they refuse to comply – will learn their place in the new America.
For more information
Ideas! For some shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.
- “Passengers” – see it because the critics hate it.
- See Solo, a Star Wars film that says much about America.
- Incredibles 2, a Father’s Day gift from Disney.
- See “Constantine” – challenging your ideas about God and the good.
- Mary Poppins shows us how we’ve changed since 1964.
Do we have to come back and kick your asses to make you into men?