This morning I read yet another article, this one in The New York Times, that claimed the character Aquaman has always been a joke in the superhero world. I’m not buying it. I don’t think you should either.
Maybe it was Jerry Seinfeld who started it. Maybe it was before that, I’m not really sure.
The fact of the matter was that Aquaman was a survivor. When all the DC (National) heroes fell by the wayside after World War II, only the big three (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman), along with Green Arrow and Aquaman soldiered on. After all, some hero had to keep the the oceans safe from octopus thieves and the like.
Ooops – I guess I just made fun of Aquaman too. But when I was a kid, I never would have.
For me Aquaman burst onto the Saturday morning cartoon scene as part of the Superman-Aquaman Hour of Adventure. And what an adventure it was! Aquaman, and Aqualad protected the undersea domed city of Atlantis, although they never seemed to spend any time there. They kicked butt against underwater foes in six-minute increments (the cartoons didn’t waste any time) under the stentorian narration of Ted Knight.
In fact, these cartoons were so formative for me that years later as a parent, I’d find myself mimicking the catch phrases in speaking to my kids. I’d say things like “Easy now, Tadpole” to my youngest daughter. Or I’d proudly proclaim, “Let’s Head for Home!” after an exciting family adventure at exotic places like…the dry cleaner’s or the bagel store.
In the 60s, Aquaman taught us a lot of things. In his cartoon, he advocated political tolerance. (I wrote about the Quatix and the Bimphabs here.) Aquaman taught patience and perseverance. When Nick Cardy illustrated Aquaman comics, he taught every young boy to appreciate red heads.
The other way the King of Seven Seas invaded my landlocked childhood home (lakes don’t really count for Aquaman, do they?) was as part of the Captain Action toy line. Captain Action, the original superhero action figure, could transform into other superheroes via costume sets fans could collect, including Batman, Spider-Man, Superman…and Aquaman.
It got even better – as he also had a sidekick who could transform into teen heroes, and Aqualad was one of them.
When the Aquaman uniform frayed due to overuse, my mom (she was great at sewing and in fact was from a long line of seamstresses) created replacement Aquaman costume. In retrospect, I realized that turned my own mom into a toy customizer.
Last night, we all trotted off to see a special sneak peek version of the new Aquaman movie. The amazing interest in this one was astonishing. We stopped in a mall shop before the show to find few patrons in a heated pre-Aquaman discussion. And afterwards, our waiter had to scurry away from our table so our conversation didn’t spoil the movie for him. He was eagerly anticipating the movie and wasn’t gonna let anyone ruin if tor him.
The movie’s lead, Jason Momoa, clearly is appealing. During a special preview showcasing the star’s (ahem) animal magnetism, a clever moviegoer loudly said, “Please don’t throw dollar bills at the screen, ladies!”
One female fan quickly responded, “ Sorry…not sorry”.
I did get a reaction from Elissa Rozanski, a comic fan and frequent comic convention attendee. She said Aquaman was “..a fun movie with maybe a bit too much CGI at times. There are a few plot holes but if you don’t overthink it, you will enjoy the ride. After all, logic doesn’t have to exist in a superhero world.”
Was the movie good? Was it bad? Who cares? The 7 year old in me has been waiting a long time for the world to get as excited about Aquaman as he was.