San Diego Comic Con was full of surprises, perhaps the biggest and most refreshing was DC stealing the spotlight from Marvel, who have been top dogs for so many years. Fans of the DCEU - or the newly retitled "Worlds of DC" - basked in the glory of Aquaman and Shazam! whilst emerging news from the smaller screen confirmed the return of favourites The Flash, Supergirl and Black Lightning and the trailer debut of Teen Titans. In a dramatic turn of events however Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn was fired from Guardians Vol 3 following the necroposting of thousands of offensive tweets from years ago. Yes, Comic Con was not so marvelous this year but appointed DC with some much needed attention after years of dark, brooding and particularly messy film making. Aside the odd exception, things may actually be looking up for the not so doomed DC universe.
As the December release date rapidly approaches with no news, stills or public footage to its name many fans assumed Aquaman was a sinking ship before it had even left shore. That was until Jason Momoa crashed into Comic Con like a tsunami of nerdy, comic book delight.
The trailer begins with Jason Curry (Aquaman) monologuing about his origins over some particularly dark DC house style images of a lighthouse during a storm. Lighthouse keeper Thomas Curry rescues the Queen of Atlantis (Nichole Kidman). Years pass. Arthur is born and grows. Then during what looks like a school field trip to the Aquarium he learns of his fish friendly powers - his eyes burst into shades of yellow after communicating with the shark life in the tank. This sequence is simple but effective, demonstrating the uniqueness of the character early on and highlighting his authority as a hero.
Flash-forward about thirty years and the wise cracking, bundle of energy Aquaman crashes through a submarine hatch in all his seven seas glory. The camera pans upwards towards his steely glare as he turns to his left and smoothly requests "Permission to come aboard". From this scene alone Aquaman - or Momoa to call him by his above water name - establishes himself as a cheeky and appealing hero who demonstrates some distinct Thor like qualities.
Plot wise he is introduced to Mera (Amber Heard) who reveals he has claim to the throne of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, although his half brother Orm is preparing to declare war on the surface world. He follows Mera as they dive into the hidden city - visually astounding as coral reef towers overhead, turtles, sharks and various aqua-mobiles swim by - drawing comparisons to the revelation of Wakanda. The story seems to follow the same "claiming my rightful place as king" formula as Black Panther though. Even though Aquaman stands out visually, director James Wan is going to have quite the job in steering the story through a format we've experienced time and time again - which is beginning to struggle for any real originality.
Initially Aquaman looks nice, it has touches of Pirates of the Caribbean and Percy Jackson but faces the tough task of standing out in a massively overcrowded genre. Ironically the tricky underwater visuals seem fantastic but the above sea level cinematography uses clumsy green screen and a poor one at that. If Aquaman can tidy up the visuals, utilise the directing talent to its best ability as well as its lead man - then DC may be swimming into calmer water after all.
Aquaman washes ashore into cinemas 21st December 2018.