Slowly the DC Cinematic Universe (DCCU) is building its own world to match the colossus built by the MCU. The next Justice Legend to get his own origins story is Aquaman, but quite when this origins story is set is massively unclear apart from a line of throw away dialogue. However, a quick search online informs me that events in Aquaman take place after the events of Justice League but it would be difficult to tell because events of Justice League seemed to have very little bearing.
Anyway, the underwater realm of Atlantis is being pushed to its limits by the surface world’s endless polluting of Earth’s oceans. This leads to a political discourse where Atlantians decide whether to launch an assault on the surface world. When the surface world (debatable) attacks both Om/Ocean Master (Patrick Wilson) and Nereus (Doplh Lundgren) the tribes of Xebel and Om join forces to destroy the surface world.
The only man who can stop them is Arthur Curry, half man, half Atlantian who harbors a strong resentment towards Atlantis for the execution of his mother as punishment falling in love and having a child with a human. The only way for Arthur to stop Om’s destruction of the surface world is to find the Trident of Atlan which is will give command over all ocean life.
Such is the legendary and mythological status of these superhero characters in their own universes it is not perhaps surprising that the story is Aquaman is inspired by some of the most famous mythological tales in literature. The most notable being the Legend of King Arthur (the two even share names) where King Arthur is the only one who can pull the sword of Excalibur from the rock much like how only Arthur Curry can wield the trident of Atlan.
Other inspirations include Jason and the Argonauts as our heroes face deadly monsters in their quest to retrieve the legendary item - be it the Golden Fleece or the Trident of Atlan. It’s here that fault in the movie can be found as the various epic set pieces don’t feel tired together by a strong script which, in fact, is as weak as soggy paper. It feels too unconnected as the movie bounds to from epic set piece to epic set piece with the only breaks from the action used as exposition so that we can keep up with everything going on (even if some of it was painfully obvious).
The script’s jumpy narrative makes the film the bloated mess that it is. However, helping us through it is director James Wan whose experience at helming massive franchises has been of great benefit to him. Working with a massive $200,000,000 budget, Wan has helped create some stunning underworld citadels that retain an element of awe even in his GCI dominated movie universe.
Jason Momoa (less said his teenage counterpart the better) is charming and engaging enough in the lead role, but much of the actors’ performances are lost in the tidal wave of GCI which, whilst impressive, just leads the actors (and some great ones too) to be swallowed up by the oceans of GCI. With nothing to anchor the film with a strong identity it just gets cast adrift in the vast ocean of superhero movies.