Thanks to the 15-year-long machinations of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, much of superhero cinema has become about — on a fundamental level — the elaborate, interconnectedness of its own widespread universe. While each individual superhero film may have its own miniature climax and any number of fantastical fist fights between supernaturally fueled pugilists, many of them now end with a hint or a preview as to the next chapter in a seemingly unending film series. The notion of a standalone superhero movie is more or less moribund.
This, perhaps, unfortunately, leaves many superhero movies feeling frustratingly empty. One would have to engage in some pretty difficult cognitive cardio to find the messages and the themes in something like “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” Is it about the dangers of fascism? The bonds of family? The eternal fight between good and evil? Couldn’t any of these themes be applied to any superhero movie? Notably galling were the themes in “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.” Those films feature a villain, Thanos (Josh Brolin) who was concerned about galactic overpopulation and poorly managed resource allocation. Thanos’ goal was to kill off half the universe to solve the issue. The Avengers did a dandy job of resurrecting the universe and murdering Thanos, but they never seemed to address his environmental concerns. “Endgame” ended with the universe overpopulated again, and resources still trim.
In a recent interview with GQ, actor Jason Momoa, the star of the upcoming “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” noted that his new superhero film will also be explicitly about environmentalism. He wasn’t permitted to reveal plot details, but he assured GQ that climate change will be addressed directly. He hopes audiences will be impressed.
Under The Sea
Momoa’s character, Aquaman, is an Atlantean prince who lives in a vast undersea kingdom of amphibious humanoids. James Wan’s 2018 “Aquaman” solo film was a corny adventure picture, but enjoyable enough. Perhaps unexpectedly, it racked up an impressive $1.14 billion at the box office. Something about “Aquaman” spoke to audiences. There may have been a shot or two in Wan’s film that briefly communicated how the oceans are being harmed by humanity, but it wasn’t a terribly important part of the film. “Lost Kingdom,” according to Momoa, seeks to bring those minor themes to the fore. Despite often being prodded for his silliness, the character of Aquaman might have the ability to say something profound or at least salient. Momoa said:
“These superhero movies dominate our market, which I have my own thoughts on because I love cinema, but we try to put out a positive message and go on an adventure. […] Aquaman is the most made-fun-of superhero in the world. But it’s amazing to be able to bring awareness of what is happening to our planet. It’s not some story that’s been told over and over, [it’s a] movie about what’s happening right now but in a fantasy world.”
Momoa then moved to describe the plot of “Lost Kingdom,” but had to stop himself, presumably because of studio secrecy; it seems the actual plot of the movie is not yet public knowledge and Momoa wasn’t about to let the cat out of the bag.
The U.N. Scene
The GQ article details a scene in “Lost Kingdom” wherein Aquaman appears in front of the United Nations to give a speech about an impending global climate disaster. This might be said to parallel Black Panther’s speech to the UN in his own 2018 film, or Superman’s speech about nuclear disarmament in “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.” It seems that if a superhero truly aims to be heroic and save the world, they would indeed be more proactive than merely punching monstrous space aliens in the face. Momoa said that “Lost Kingdom” addresses a threat to the Earth without couching said threat comfortably in a sci-fi metaphor. He said that “we really get to speed up what is going to happen to this Earth, and it’s not because of aliens.”
Momoa was moved enough to act in real life as well. In June of 2022, according to Reuters, Momoa and his children attended the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon to talk about oceanic health and widespread environmental concerns. Momoa was quoted as saying:
“We must seek to right the wrongs we have done against our children and grandchildren, turn the tide on our irresponsible stewardship and build momentum for a future where humanity can once again live in harmony with nature.”
Sounds like something a superhero might say. “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” is due in theaters on December 25, 2023. It will be one of the final films in the widespread DC Extended Universe, first pioneered by Zack Snyder. Not only will “Lost Kingdom” address real, heroic concerns, but it will not extended indefinitely. It has several points in its favor already.
Read this next: Every DC Movie Made Prior To The DCEU Ranked From Worst To Best
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/Film – Jason Momoa Hopes Aquaman 2’s Climate Change Allegory Makes An Impact
Author: Witney Seibold
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March 11, 2023