I still remember standing in line outside my hometown theater for forty-five minutes on the third day of Spider-Man One’s opening weekend. The imagined possibilities of other superheroes getting a big screen treatment reeling around inside my brain like a six-year-old on a sugar binge. Sure, We had those Batman… uh.. things, and X-men, but somehow it felt different; like the air was charged with possibilities (of course that could have been hypothermia setting in as my clothes absorbed three hobbits worth of water). Now a superhero hitting the big screen gets as much coverage on the news as a shuttle launch, and the air is as limp and empty of joy as Superman with a Kryptonite condom.
But I am not here to talk about why that is. Our own expectations and the corporate “Hype” machine have pretty much sucked all the magic out of the superhero movie world. Now when I stand in the rain outside the theater, the only thing in the air is pollution and the smell of the geek in front of me who hasn’t bathed in two weeks and has been standing in line for five days “fermenting” in the summer heat just so he can get a good seat.
One thing I remember from that fateful rain soak Sunday outside my theater five years ago was the piece of conversation I picked up from the people behind me in line. They were discussing, like we all were, the possibilities ahead of us in the future. What characters we would like to see, what villains, trying to trump each other with ever more obscure comic books characters in an attempt to impress our fellow nerds with our “geek-cred”. Anyway, one guy mentions how cool a Justice League movie would be, and everyone else starts chiming in, that is until someone pipes up with the Judas of comic superheroes: Aquaman. I almost feel sorry for the poor guy who put those two cents into the conversation. His friends met his suggestion with derision, and I wasn’t surprised.
Aquaman has long been the whipping boy of the superhero world. When people think of superheroes, they imagine the rippling muscles of Superman, or the brains of Batman, or the… uh.. “Bracelets” of Wonder Woman. Often over the years, when Aquaman enters the conversation, I have heard the same reaction. People scoff and retort, “What good is he? He talks to fish!”
Why, ladies and gentlemen, has Aquaman been sidelined into a third-string player? I mean, in the end, what is so bad about being able to talk to fish? I can imagine the lucrative and creative business opportunities available to the man who can communicate with fish and find out where all the good shipwrecks are. Not to mention hosting your own “Fish Whisperer” television show on National Geographic channel. The important and subtle difference to remember people is that he doesn’t talk to fish, he commands them.
Think about all the creatures in the ocean, and then all of those creatures that are perfect predators in their watery environment. I can’t think of a more deadly super-power to wield against your average evil villain. Imagine how long the Joker would laugh if he gets knocked out of his clown-themed fishing trawler by Jaws. Then, when he is treading water surrounded by several of the world’s most evolved predator, out of the briny deep comes Aquaman riding on the back of a Blue whale like a badass while Barracudas ride shotgun just under the waves.
Not only has his super-power been marginalized but the character himself is often laughed at. True, I can’t think of a less scary color scheme than an orange shirt and green pants. Whatever you think of his suit, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. At one point in the Aquaman storyline, he loses his hand. Now, in the comics the circumstances involve a tank full of piranhas and the loss of his telepathic abilities, poor chump. However, in the Justice League cartoon series they took a different route, and firmly established Aquaman as a hardcore-badass-motherfucker in my book. Aquaman is chained to a rock by a usurper to his throne along his baby son. The rock is about to fall into a crack on the ocean floor filled with lava. As the rock starts sliding over the edge Aquaman struggles in his chains, succeeding in getting one free, but he doesn’t have time to free his other hand, he looks at his son and then reaches for the sharp letter “A” belt buckle on his waist, and then cuts off his own hand in order to free himself and save his son. THEN he swims back to Atlantis for a final showdown with the usurper. I don’t know about you, but anyone who willingly cuts off an appendage just to free himself has officially won the Biggest Balls in The Universe contest. Right now fictional Aquaman is second only to the very real climber whose arm was trapped under a rock, and he lay stuck for several days before cutting off his arm and then hiking back to civilization.
When I think about it, I think Aquaman’s situation is a unique one. I mean who else in the superhero world would cut off their own arm to save a child. I am sure a lot of them claim they would be willing to, but how many superheroes, when stuck in that situation, without any other recourse or superpower to rely on, would go that extra distance. Think about it. Superman, with his ridiculous retard strength would have done anyone of a dozen to the rock or chains with anyone of his superpowers. Face it, the guy is like a Swiss Army Knife of superhero powers. Even if he couldn’t free himself from the chains or break the lock, Superman would be incapable of cutting off his own arm. He is the man of Steel after all.
How about Batman? To tell you the truth, I have seen Batman trapped in so many soon-to-die situations that I would almost relish watching him try to get out of the situation and then have a large “Epic Fail” sign appear above him so it is the last thing he sees as the rock he is chained to plummets him to a molten death. However, we all know that Batman has more gadgets and doohickeys than a compulsive shopper on EBay. Even with both his hands chained securely, and fastened well away from his belt I wouldn’t be surprised if he shows up at the end of the episode all smug and quiet, never revealing how he escaped the trap. He probably has some trained lab monkey that’s genetically engineered to breath underwater that he stuffed up his ass that morning as an afterthought “just in case he gets chained to a rock at the bottom of the ocean”. And Wonder Woman? Face it, that bitch would have drowned.
In the end, people just don’t give Aquaman a chance. The man who would be King of Atlantis trumped by a goofy costume, unique super-power, and the preconceived notions of an air-breathing audience. Well, I still believe in him even if you don’t. When Aquaman is long gone, and his comic book kingdom is crumbling into ruin, who will mourn for Aquaman? I will.