Monday, November 28, 2016

Superhero Media: Justice League - Throne of Atlantis

The follow-up for Justice League: War, which I did not care for, Throne of Atlantis is a little better, having an actual plot and something for most heroes to do. Oddly, out of the whole overblown team, only Batman seems superfluous, and the main players seem to be Cyborg and Captain Marvel. Yes, the film is all about Aquaman discovering his heritage and accepting his future as the king of Atlantis, but the heroes that actually seem to be putting any real effort into running the League are Cyborg and Captain Marvel, even if the implication is that this is the case because they, unlike all the other heroes, have noting better to do. That seems a little critical from the other leaguers, really, Cyborg demonstrates that he can run intelligence and strategy for the team from his damn head, which renders Batman pretty much useless from the word go. Then there's Captain Marvel, pretty much almost as powerful as Supes and way more enthusiastic about the whole superhero thing, between the two of them, most of the rest of the team needn't bother turning up most of the time anyway. 

The film is more about Arthur Curry becoming Aquaman than much else, in that, I am reminded about what I wrote back in my Young Justice Season 1 review, about long meetings pitching ideas to make Aqualad cool. Curry's three-day stubble, unkempt hair and hard drinking seem like an attempt to distance the character from his Super Friends days, not necessarily a bad idea, but it's immediately undercut by the orange and green costume and bringing back the "Outrageous!" catchphrase. Also, they just keep calling Ocean Master Ocean Master, like it's a cool name and he'll be a relevant villain for the league moving forward. The New 52 Justice League stuff is full of attempts to make Aquaman cool; that "summoning a sharknado" thing? New 52. Defeating Parademons with killer whales? New 52. I appreciate the reworking of a clunky old character into something new and interesting more than most, but is Aquaman really a good candidate for this treatment? Isn't Aquaman's appeal somewhat linked to his goofiness? He "commands the loyalty of sea creatures", being grim and gritty is a bit of a stretch.
Overall, Throne of Atlantis is pretty lackluster, not as bad as War, but still far from the giddy heights of New Frontier or Flashpoint Paradox. The new versions of the characters mostly fail to be interesting and any potential for development is quickly pushed aside for a fight scene, Aquaman brooding or Green Lantern being sarcastic. It just seems a bit of a shame to have all these interesting and iconic characters, but not do anything to develop them or give reasons why they're suddenly mean, selfish and stupid. If this is the inspiration for the live action films, I'm not holding out too much hope just now. 

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