A year after our proper introduction to the DC Extended Universe's Arthur Curry in Justice League, his solo film, James Wan's Aquaman, will soon premiere in theaters. We got a taste of what that film will be like in the recently released final trailer, which gave us a glimpse of Aquaman's youth and the upcoming battle for the deep, featuring horrifying leviathans, armored supervillains and mystical tridents. It's a short peek into all sorts of excitement and, perhaps more importantly, this trailer should give fans hope for the DCEU's future.
When Aquaman appeared in Justice League, he was a man of few words in some scenes and a maniac eager for battle in others. If you judged Aquaman from the character's depiction in Justice League alone, you would understandably assume that his solo film would be every bit as grey and near-lifeless as the isolated Nordic fishing village in which we first met Arthur. That is not the case.
What's immediately noticeable from the trailer is that the film is far lighter than others in the franchise. In fact, the color scheme alone is reminiscent of Wonder Woman, which continues to be mentioned as the standout film of the DCEU for a variety of reasons. Is this a sign that Warner Bros. has finally learned from its mistakes?
It's been a long road for this film franchise. DC characters are some of the strongest and most well-known in the industry. When people think "superhero" they often think of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, and yet the films based on these characters have continued to perform inadequately, especially when compared to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Critics and audiences have all cited the franchise's much darker tone and frankly humorless characters as being the reason why audiences aren't as drawn to the films of the DCEU as they are to the MCU. Those complaints go as far back as Man of Steel, which had quite a violent end -- a fact that irritated some.
Justice League was slightly different. Although it was flawed, audiences and critics expressed approval for the somewhat lighter tone and the fact that it didn't take itself too seriously, which was almost certainly the work of Snyder and not Joss Whedon, who took the reins when Snyder left to deal with a family tragedy.
Of course, tone is far from the only reason why DCEU films have struggled. As we mentioned, Justice League suffered an imbalance because of the presence of two different creative styles. Contributing to that mess was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which was cut down significantly, leading to a somewhat fragmented theatrical cut that many had trouble understanding. This was an issue shared by David Ayer's critically panned Suicide Squad, which presented a plot that was far from solid.