Aquaman is the latest entry in the Warner Bros’ DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Starring Jason Momoa in the titular role of Atlantean-human hybrid superhero Arthur Curry/Aquaman, this James Wan directorial has won over audiences with its stunning visuals and well-thought-out action sequences, all of which had been missing in earlier DCEU films except Wonder Woman.
Most critics, too, seem to like it. For now, it holds a 64% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. While this is nowhere near as Wonder Woman’s score (93%), it is still more than other DCEU films.
So how does Aquaman stack up overall in the DC Extended Universe? Here is the ranking, starting from the bottom.
Suicide Squad: This movie just couldn’t seem to make up its mind as to what it wants to be. Whether it would prefer to descend into total madness or it would like to be too self-serious – we do not know and that is the problem with this film. In spite of some amazing individual performances (Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn is the highlight), the disparate elements in the film do not gel together to make a coherent whole. Instead, we get a disjointed film, in which it feels like the people behind the camera are crazier than the inmates of Arkham Asylum can ever be.
Batman v Superman: The face-off between two of the most iconic superheroes on earth… and you wish it had never taken place. It was a welcome change to pit a jaded Batman against an indignant Superman who refuses to smile (compare Cavill’s Superman in this film to Christopher Reeve’s in 1978 film Superman). But film’s philosophy feels as though the writers read Friedrich Nietzsche For Dummies to brush up on concepts like nihilism and the relationship between god and human. The infamous Martha moment may have received more attention than anything else in the movie. Batman v Superman is a monstrosity that should never have been made.
Justice League: Personally, I liked Justice League. This film, despite flaws, made me more hopeful as to where DCEU is going. Of course, this film gets many things wrong — villain could not be more generic. But the jocular, fun interplay between the main characters and watching some of the greatest superheroes (the ones with whom I grew up with) come to life was an unforgettable experience.
Aquaman: The newest DCEU film is also its brightest and most colourful. And it is also one of the zaniest superhero movies ever. It is mostly all style, though, as the movie’s plot is all over the place and characters with one or two exceptions are not developed enough. But it is still a great time at the movies because of its unrelenting beauty and humour. The underwater creatures are as varied as sharks to seahorses to a race of cannibalistic creatures called the Trench and towering over them all — a freaking Kraken.
Man of Steel: Man of Steel is a great film albeit with a messy, effect-heavy climax. But perhaps it was inevitable. I am not enamoured of CGI, but I understand when Kryptonians fight, there is bound to be destruction on an unprecedented scale. We had actually never seen Superman using his full powers before in live-action.
Wonder Woman: This is the only DCEU film that can take on any Marvel Cinematic Universe film. Without trying to accomplish an overarching objective, Wonder Woman checked all the boxes and delivered a fantastic origin story of the most popular female superhero. Patty Jenkins did what a veteran in comic-book movies (Snyder) could not do: tell an earnest, inspiring and lovable story. The No Man’s Land scene in the film is the stuff superheroes are made of.