Thursday, 4 February 2016

POP! Heroes – Aquaman (Batman vs Superman)

Batman vs Superman is just under two months away, and anticipation is high. Not necessarily for the right reasons, either – plenty of people are expecting (and even hoping) that this will crash and burn at the box office, or at least with the critics.

I’m on the fence, personally. Ben Affleck really rubs people the wrong way for some reason; I suspect it may have to do with the “Bennifer” years back at the turn of the millennium, but I tend to think it’s best to forgive and move on, rather than continually burst into anger about the sins of the past. He’s made plenty of good movies since then, and haven’t all of us done silly things in the name of love at one point or another? We were just lucky enough to not have it broadcast to the world.  
But whether or not the film is good as a cohesive whole, I think there will be some fun moments. Batman’s armour looks great, it will be great to see Wonder Woman finally hit the big screen and Jason Momoa is likely to turn in a good performance as the subject of today’s review – Aquaman!
Though Aquaman can actually be pretty awesome, recent years have seen him become a bit of a meme serving as shorthand for all the worst things about comics – he’s the guy whose powers include “the ability to talk to fish”. This could (and frequently is, in the comics) quite handy, but it doesn’t sound as impressive as being able to shoot lasers from your eyes.

The movie is obviously aiming to break down a few preconceptions about the character, given the heavy deviation from his traditional costume. This is bound to upset some purists, but I think Aquaman is niche enough that they’ll be able to get away with it. Ant-Man took a few liberties with its titular character, and although it was far from perfect, it was much improved as a result of this tweaking.

This version takes some of its cues from the character’s 90s look, back when being EDGY was the only real requirement to sell a comic. But though its inspiration may be obvious, it’s still distinct enough to have its own look. The pants still have scales and the “A” belt, but there’s no hook hand, and his torso is covered in tribal-inspired tattoos, which is new. More pointedly, Aquaman has always been kind of an Anglo-looking guy. Being of Hawaiian background, Jason Momoa brings a much more Polynesian look to the character, which is a good thing. Being an Atlantean – which is let’s not forget, a fictitious race – there’s no real reason for him to look like he walked of a Nazi recruitment poster.       

I primarily bought this POP as I never got a regular or New 52 Aquaman back when he was more readily available. The character has never been a strong favourite of mine, but the Justice League just feels incomplete without him (though we are still waiting on The Atom, Zatanna and a comics-based version of Cyborg, just to name a few). So whether or not the movie is any good, the team is pretty much complete on my shelf – this is a good thing. Though of course I wouldn’t be surprised if the original now gets a re-release, as some of the rarer Star Wars POPs did a few months ago.
Paint. Well, as always, paint is a mixed bag. The broad strokes are well-conceived but the execution is lacking. There’s fuzzy lines, sloppy application around fine lines and the colours look just a little too muted for my liking (though this is probably reasonably screen accurate, based on the promo pics). Most curious is his beard and hair. I assume that the paint spots are meant to be variations in hair colour, but they also have the effect of kind of looking like he has seaweed stuck all through it.  
The tampoed areas, like the tattoos and eyebrows, are pretty fine. But both arms are missing a bunch of the tattoos that Jason Momoa has in promo pics. This may be a DC style guide thing, rather than Funko’s idea – we’ll have to wait and see what some of the other merchandise looks like.  

That sounds fairly negative, but really it’s kind of business as usual for POPs, as anyone who’s bought more than a few will know. The more concerning problem is his trident – my one seemed to be fine, but plenty of them are quite warped in the box.  

Aquaman has a variant, too – there’s an all-blue “underwater” variant of him. This seems to be distributed in roughly equal quantities to his standard version in Australia, though in America it’s a Hot Topic exclusive. If it glowed in the dark I would have already bought it, but it doesn’t. In fact, one of the main reasons I didn’t was because the one I came across at first had a very warped trident. It’s a pretty cool twist on the figure though.  

I suspect that Aquaman will be the breakout character in the BvS merchandise, though I’m often wrong about these things. But my anecdotal experience suggests that he’s selling through more quickly than his case companions. By contrast, both versions of Batman and the Superman Soldier look like peg warmers already (though it could just be the case quantities), even though they have cool designs. Superman is a flying pose, so plenty of people who don’t care about the movie but like the character will pick him up. Wonder Woman will likely sell by virtue of being Wonder Woman. So if you’re a fan of the character or Jason Momoa, I’d say grab him while you can. Groot was an absolute pain in the bum to get hold of for months after Guardians of the Galaxy was released back in 2014, and I could see similar things happening with Aquaman. 


  1. If Aquaman were only talking to fish and other marine animals, the movie could be a little tedious. However, I've just checked out his trident of Neptune (probably more correctly a "pentadent") and it has quite a few awesome powers that could fit well into a movie. He was originally, like the Phantom, pretty opposed to pirates, but has spread his net (so to speak) a little wider, and handles other evildoers. I hope they stick to a strong story and lay off the effects (The Green Lantern was a dud because I don't think anyone could follow it). I'm tipping Aquaman might fight ocean polluters, maybe Somalian pirates, but will steer clear of asylum-seekers.
    I'm hoping we also find out the answer to the eternal question: does he eat at seafood restaurants? -- Seymour Knutts

  2. Looking at the trailer, I'm just not quite clear on how he is going to fit into the movie. With Superman and Batman as the focus, and then Wonder Woman likely to be the third primary character, I think it's probably going to feel a little bit overstuffed.