Having spent decades as the butt of many jokes about being a guy who talks to fish, had James Wan’s Aquaman stuck to the relentlessly self-serious and mostly humorless DCEU aesthetic established by Zack Snyder, then the movie could have been a disaster. Luckily, Arthur Curry’s solo debut embraced the absurdity of both the character and his surroundings, with the end result a deliriously entertaining comic book blockbuster.
Wan knows that the very concept of his film is ridiculous, and leverages it to great effect, toeing the line between treating the material as seriously as can be expected without having to wink at the audience. Aquaman has Nicole Kidman wiping out a squad of undersea hitmen sent to kill a baby, Dolph Lundgren in a ginger wig, Willem Dafoe with a man bun, armored sharks and giant seahorses riding into battle against each other, an octopus playing the drums, Julie Andrews as the voice of an aquatic leviathan and Pitbull covering Toto’s “Africa” as part of the soundtrack, and yet somehow it all works.
It also happened to end up as the highest-grossing DC adaptation ever made after surpassing The Dark Knight Rises, so expectations are naturally heightened for the sequel. We don’t know too much about it just yet, but insider Daniel Richtman is claiming that the follow-up is going to be even weirder than its predecessor, featuring unusual monsters dwelling on the ocean floor and Atlantean magic, which is exactly the sort of thing we want to hear.
Aquaman should never be grounded and gritty, and the approach worked wonders the first time around, so there’s literally no reason for Wan and his team to deviate from the formula that proved so successful when cameras start rolling on the second installment this summer.