Warner Bros.’ DC Extended Universe has faced its fair share of choppy waters since its inception in 2013. However, the latest addition to the franchise, Aquaman, has already managed to bring in a tidal wave of money overseas, which – when combined with a modest domestic opening weekend haul – brings the worldwide box office total to a respectable $482.8 million (at the time of this writing).
Apart from just being a financial success for Warner Bros., though, Aquaman is a film that’s jam-packed with some visually stunning and all-around amazing moments, and we here at Epicstream have netted what we think are the eight absolute best. Check out the list and then let us know what you think in the comments section.
The film begins in 1985, where we see Thomas Curry rescue – and eventually start a family with – Queen Atlanna. However, soon after Arthur is born, a jealous King Orvax sends his commandoes to retrieve her from Thomas’ Maine lighthouse. Unfortunately for them, Atlanna proves she’s a force to be reckoned with, making quick work of the Atlanteans with her quindent in an impressive and beautifully choreographed display of badassery.Advertisement
When we finally meet up with an adult Arthur, we see him board a Russian Naval nuclear submarine that’s under attack by a group of pirates under the leadership of Jesse Kane. Naturally, Arthur wipes the floors with the pirates, and in doing so, shows off his bulletproof, nigh-impenetrable skin, as well as his brutal, brawler-like fighting style. However, it’s during this scene that he also indirectly creates a prevalent thorn in his side, Black Manta, by refusing to save David Kane’s father after he’s pinned down by a warhead.
After the underwater sequence in Justice League, many fans were skeptical heading into Aquaman. When we first enter Atlantis, though, any and all reservations are left at the door. From the vibrant colors to the breathtaking CGI, the underwater kingdom is everything longtime DC Comics fans could have hoped for.
The Ring of Fire
Much to Arthur’s dismay, the wonder of Atlantis is swiftly overshadowed by the presence of his half-brother Orm, who despises the former for being a half-breed bastard. This leads to the first encounter between the pair; a duel inside the Ring of Fire. Again, we’d already gotten a taste of underwater combat in Justice League, but it pales in comparison to what we see between Arthur and Orm in this sequence. Some have gone as far as comparing it to the gladiator scene in Thor: Ragnarok, and while the parallels are there, the visual spectacle of watching the drama unfold in the presence of an underwater pit of lava takes things up a few notches.
Big Trouble in Little Sicily
While searching for King Atlan’s trident, Arthur and Mera find themselves in Sicily. They aren’t alone, though, as David Kane – now sporting comic-book-accurate armor and calling himself Black Manta – arrives with several Atlantean warriors by his side. As if the scenery and choreography aren’t enough, getting to see Black Manta in action makes this entire scene one of the film’s most standout moments. Additionally, we get some great Mera hydrokinesis sequences, like when she turns wine into razor-sharp projectiles.
Coming from a horror background, James Wan bringing the ravenous Trench into Aquaman seems like a no-brainer. When they finally surface and begin swarming Arthur and Mera’s boat, you begin to get a sense of just how many of them there are. When they dive into the ocean with flares in tow, though, and the sheer volume is nothing if not overwhelming. It’s arguably the tensest and most pulse-pounding moment in any DCEU film to date and if not for James Wan, who knows if it would have played out nearly as strong?
The One True King
Once Arthur and Mera escape the clutches of the Trench, we transition from the film’s scariest moment to its most heroic. After being reunited with his mother, Arthur confronts the monstrous Karathen, who guards the trident from those that are unworthy. However, Arthur quickly proves his worth by exercising his aquatelepathy and then retrieving the trident from a dead King Altan’s hands. The scene then culminates with the de facto money shot from the trailer, in which Arthur emerges from a waterfall donning his comics-accurate orange-and-green scale mail costume.
The Battle for the Throne
The third act is where many modern superhero movies tend to fall apart. Often times, it’s the result of an overly CGI’d battle scene shot in low light, and while Aquaman certainly leans into this trope, the brilliant execution sets it apart from the competition. The battle between Arthur’s army of sea creatures and Orm’s alliance is nothing short of epic, in both scale and style, and the CGI enhances the action rather than detracts from it. As far as third acts go, Aquaman very well may lead the pack when it comes to the DCEU.