Aquaman is the latest DC Extended Universe comic book character to be brought to film. This movie tells the story of Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), who is the love child of lighthouse keeper Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison) and Atlanna, Queen of Atlantis (Nicole Kidmann).
When Arthur is a child, his mother is forced to leave him and his father to return to the underwater city of Atlantis, where she is presumed to have been executed for treason. Although Arthur grows up as a ‘surface dweller’, he soon becomes aware that he is a ‘half-breed’, who can breathe and swim like lightning in the ocean. When Arthur is a young teenager, a loyal advisor to Queen Atlanna, Nuidis Vulko (Willem Dafoe), secretly seeks him out. Vulko wants to teach Arthur about his family legacy under the sea, as well as how to fight and survive under the water. Vulko hopes that one day Arthur can return to Atlantis as the rightful heir.
Meanwhile, Orm Marius (Patrick Wilson), Arthur’s half-brother, rules Atlantis. Orm has evil plans to unite all the seven underwater kingdoms and to rise up and attack the surface dwellers, who are polluting the sea with mindless consumerism and wasteful habits. Vulko and Princess Mera (Amber Heard) must move quickly to convince Arthur that now is the moment to challenge Orm for the throne, assert himself as the rightful King of Atlantis, and stop the imminent war.
Superheroes; super powers; war; fighting; pollution; sea ecology; myths and legends.
There is almost constant comic book-style violence in Aquaman. The movie’s attractive and charismatic hero is often responsible for the violence, which has few consequences (that is, not too much blood and gore) and includes violence between different ‘races’ or cultural groups. Here are some examples:
- Frequent action and battle scenes involve characters shooting guns both from a distance and at close range. For example, several Atlantis soldiers in armour burst into the lighthouse to capture Queen Atlanna, shooting laser guns at her. She must dodge their gun fire and use her trident to kill them all.
- Long ‘war’ sequences between different undersea groups involve the use of large explosives and torpedo-like weapons.
- Frequent close-range fighting scenes involve stabbing, punching, kicking, slashing, maiming and using objects as weapons. For example, Aquaman rescues a submarine from underwater pirates and uses a manhole cover as a shield from bullet fire but also as a weapon to bash people over the head and kill them.
- There are several fight scenes in which Aquaman and Orm attack each other with their tridents.
- Aquaman admits that he has learned to solve his problems ‘with his fist’.
Aquaman has some mild romantic scenes, but no sexual references of concern. But it’s worth being aware of the following scenes or issues:
- Both female and male characters wear costumes that are highly gendered and sexualised. For example, Aquaman is an stereotpyical strong man. He’s often naked to the waist and has bulging muscles. His love interest, Princess Mera, is very thin and has large breast, and she wears skin-tight, low-cut outfits that accentuate these features.
- There is some mild flirtation and one kiss between Aquaman and Princess Mera.
- Queen Atlanna and Thomas the lighthouse keeper lie in bed together.
- Atlanna and Thomas kiss passionately.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Aquaman shows some use of substances. For example, adults drink alcohol in a bar. This includes one scene in which they get drunk and behave in a silly way.
Nudity and sexual activity
Aquaman has some mild nudity. For example, Aquaman is often naked to the waist, wearing only jeans.
Nothing of concern
Aquaman has some coarse language and language with racist overtones.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Aquaman is an over-the-top and cheesy superhero movie that pulls out all the clichés. Despite this, the amazing costumes and great underwater CGI scenes are an enjoyable spectacle. There’s a lot of violence in this movie, so it isn’t recommended for children under 13 years.
The main message from this movie is to follow your true destiny, despite the dangers that might await you.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include the following:
- bravery and courage in the face of danger
- the strength that true love gives you to overcome cultural barriers.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like:
- the use of violence to resolve conflict between both individuals and nations
- the ethics of using animals and creatures to fight in wars
- the consequences of polluting the ocean
- racism and the use of language like ‘half-breed’. Although this kind of language is used in the context of a fantasy movie to describe land dwellers and sea dwellers, you could talk about the the consequences of using similar languages to describe different cultural groups in real life.