Aquaman

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

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Okay, we’ve reviewed a number of Marvel movies (because there are a lot of movies about Marvel superheroes), so it’s only fair to offer equal time to a movie based on a DC Comics superhero. We’re talking about “Aquaman,” of course.

Aquaman was created in 1941 by artist Paul Norris and editor Mort Weisinger as DC’s answer to Marvel’s Sub-Mariner. In those days, the two companies stole ideas back and forth.

Aquaman was the King of Atlantis, a human of great strength and the ability to live under water. As revealed in his debut in “More Fun Comics #73” (November 1941), his father was a famous underwater explorer who “learned ways of teaching me to live under the ocean, drawing oxygen from the water and using all the power of the sea to make me wonderfully strong and swift. By training and a hundred scientific secrets, I became what you see—a human being who lives and thrives under the water.”

Although one of the founding members of DC’s Justice League, he has always been considered “wholesome and weak,” becoming the butt of jokes on TV programs like “The Big Bang Theory.”

Warner Bros. has tried to refute that image by casting muscular Jason Momoa in the title role of its new “Aquaman” movie. Directed by James Wan, this is the sixth installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU).

You will recognize Jason Momoa from his roles in TV’s “Game of Thrones,” “Stargate Atlantis,” and the movie remake of “Conan the Barbarian.” He’s hard to miss at 6-foot-4. With his physical stature, shaggy beard, and dreadlocks, he was considered the Chewbacca of “Stargate Atlantis.”

This new “Aquaman” movie is playing at Tropic Cinema.

Here, Aquaman has a slightly retooled history in keeping with the “Adventure Comics #260” (May 1959) storyline: Arthur Curry (that’s Aquaman’s human name) is the offspring of a Maine lighthouse keeper and a princess of Atlantis (played by Temuera Morrison and Nicole Kidman).

Rejected by Atlantis for being a half-breed, Arthur must recover a magic trident owned by the first king of the underwater nation of in order to claim his rightful throne.

Of course, this search for the Trident of Atlan – from the Sahara desert to Sicily to an uncharted sea at the center of the Earth – takes place while he faces off against an old enemy, the Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II).

Arthur has the support of his mother’s loyal advisor Nuidis Vulko (Willem Dafoe) – and the help of an Atlantian beauty named Mera (Amber Heard). The daughter of Nereus (Dolph Lundgren), she’s unfortunately betrothed to Arthur’s half-brother, King Orm (Patrick Wilson). Awkward.

As we expect in these good-vs-evil sagas, Aquaman eventually vanquishes his nemesis. But stay tuned for the scene following the movie’s end credits that sets up a proposed sequel.

As a former publisher of Marvel Comics, am I biased against Aquaman? Nope. Full disclosure: After Marvel, I spent a couple years consulting with DC Comics. I feel like Aquaman is an old pal.

Email Shirrel: srhoades@aol.com

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