I can’t remember much useful from school (which inspired me to try and put together a high school reading list while in quarantine), but something that reminds me of comic books I read as a kid gets my brain working.
On Wednesday, HBO Max announced the development of a limited series built around the Peacemaker character that John Cena will play in James Gunn’s upcoming The Suicide Squad film.
But the key art released with the news trigged memories of an image that’s apparently stuck in my brain over the past 30 years. The headshot of Cena’s Peacemaker, drawn like a comic book illustration, looked a lot like John Byrne’s rendition of Captain America for the signature corner boxes that Marvel Comics put on its covers from the 1960s through the 1990s.
Getting back on track, we clean up on topics from the previous week including Avengers: Endgame and its many endings for beloved characters, Def Leppard’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction and redemption, the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera blaming others for his lack of home runs, and the passing of the legend inside the Chewbacca suit, Peter Mayhew.
After finally getting this show on track, a cold knocked me down for a few days. And I’d managed to avoid catching a cold all winter long. Dang it.
But The Podcass is back on track! First, Uncle Ian explains how he’s now driving a minivan school bus for his beloved nieces and we review the new superhero movie sensation, Shazam!
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On the latest Amusement Park Podcast, we review Aquaman! Did Jason Momoa sink or swim? We also discuss Mortal Engines‘ disastrous box office, the new MoviePass plans that may pull Chris back in and what we’re enjoying this week.
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If you grew up snickering at Aquaman while watching Super Friends, it might be difficult to imagine that the man talking to fish and riding sea horses would be the one to save the DC cinematic universe. (Personally, I was grateful to Aquaman for his safety tips warning against the hazards of seaweed wrapping around your legs or getting clothing snagged against pan handles. To my frustration, those clips don’t appear to be available on YouTube.)
OK, Aquaman isn’t a pop culture joke anymore. Not when Jason Momoa is cast as the King of the Seven Seas, portraying a charming lunk who could rip your arms off then enjoy a couple of pints afterwards. As Arthur Curry, he’s far more charismatic and compelling than Henry Cavill as Superman or Ben Affleck as Batman. Had Warner Brothers and DC Films tried to properly establish its core characters, rather than impatiently push its Justice League franchise, perhaps that superhero team-up wouldn’t have been such a flop.
Maybe there is no more DC cinematic universe, in terms of an interconnected series of films that all occupy the same storytelling space. But if DC were to call a mulligan and hide Batman v Superman and Justice League in the cupboard, Aquaman (along with last year’s Wonder Woman) is something that the studio could rebuild its superhero franchise around.
Yet Aquaman is perfectly capable of standing on its own, rather than be a piece of a convoluted puzzle. Director James Wan has built an impressive world around his superhero, creating a spectacle that aspires to the heights of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Avatar. However, while its influences are clear, this movie isn’t derivative. Arthur Curry’s journey from reluctant hero to champion might be familiar — a modern-day fable — but Aquaman feels new and exciting, providing visuals that we haven’t seen before.