Aquaman is currently ruling the boxoffice and the blockbuster film conversation in almost every corner of the nerd internet universe. The film has made more than $940 million dollars and is expected to be the first DCEU film to break the billion dollar line.
However as the now infamous Ryan Reynolds gif would ask, the question remains… But why?
To put it simply, many argue that the film succeeds because Jason Momoa is so charming and so sexually appealing that women are showing up in droves because of him. In fact many have already stated their viewpoint that his topless appearance in much of the film has driven such a high number of women to theaters that this helped it succeed, and to some degree, i’m sure that is not technically wrong. For sure Titanic succeeded similarly due to repeat viewings from a largely female demographic who kept returning for Leonardo Dicaprio’s boyish good looks and that “love story”.
I think the catalyst is much simpler than that. Obviously first, one has to consider that there have been a ton of comic book films in recent years, at least in terms of films that steal the spotlight from smaller productions. Comic book films are currently the bread and butter of the summer movie season and it appears now, the winter season too. Sure some speculate that comic book film fatigue will eventually set in… but not yet… not yet. And until then, each new film has a chance to earn a ton of fans and a ton of viewings, see Venom for another example.
Now looking at Aquaman as a comic book character, what does he have that makes him more enjoyable to watch, more interesting than other superheroes? The answer is really not much, they are all too alike at times. What Aquamans success shows us is that audiences do want new IP, they do want heroes on the big screen that have not yet gotten their moment in the sun.
For far too long the audience have had to put up with reiterations of Batman, Superman, The Incredible Hulk. Spider-man and the X-men… Meanwhile Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor even with some of those having relative mediocre first outings, are all properties with varying levels of newness to the mass consumers of the world. Sure, the comic book lovers all knew these properties but the difference between Arthur and Kal El is Arthur has been a joke in the DC universe for so long while Kal El and Bruce Wayne have enjoyed such insane popularity that even basic fans who grew up on the Donner films aren’t going to watch a new iteration of Superman without being ready to critique it for all the things that are different from what they know. Aquaman has not been in a live action solo film before.
What I am saying if I am saying anything at all is this, Aquaman succeeds because in the world of live action, even with the recent Justice League film, he has a clean slate. And no one is going to go on about how much he should or shouldn’t smile. It also helps I suppose that no logical people watching Aquaman are going to care about all the sea life being harmed in the middle of the war for Atlantis where Superman would get criticized for simply being thrown through a building by a villain.
What I’m saying is Aquaman hasn’t had to deal with a toxic fandom yet… not yet.