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Aquaman: First Reactions Praise Film As 'Breathtakingly Beautiful, Weird' Superhero Adventure

Aquaman: big, bold, bright, and badass. 

That's what critics are calling the James Wan-directed superhero origin story film in their first reactions, which they posted all across Twitter the moment studio Warner Bros. lifted the social media embargo on Monday, November 26.

By and large, it looks like members of the media fell in the deep end of the love pool when they caught early screenings of Aquaman, as the first wave of responses is astoundingly positive and packed with praise for the flick that follows Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) on his journey to obtain a special trident that will unite the seven seas, bring an end to his brother Orm's (Patrick Wilson) problematic reign as king, and end the war that rages between water-dwellers and those on the surface world. 

ScreenRant editor Andrew Dyce likened Aquaman to Avatar — if Avatar was made by acclaimed video game designer and screenwriter Hideo Kojima (who's garnered even more attention for his mind-boggling upcoming project Death Stranding) and starred Arnold Schwarzenegger in his 1980s action movie prime. 

"Aquaman is a breathtakingly beautiful, weird, badass, FUN idea of a modern superhero fantasy (anime) and makes zero apologies. Second half's one cheer/laugh after another," wrote Dyce. "Imagine '80s Schwarzenegger starring in 'Hideo Kojima's AVATAR' and you're most of the way there. #Aquaman." He added in a separate tweet that he's "forever grateful to Wan and [Zack] Snyder that this is the #Aquaman we get to have in movies," and argued that Aquaman is to the DC Extended Universe what Venom is to Sony's Marvel universe. 

IGN's Tom Jorgensen made striking claim in his reaction to Aquaman, calling it "the best DC movie since The Dark Knight" and affirming that it's even better than the critically adored, record-smashing Wonder Woman. Wan "delivers a swashbuckling epic full of big emotion, gorgeous undersea visuals, exciting action, and lots of laughs," Jorgensen posted on Twitter. "WB should be handing the DCEU reins to James Wan, he's proven he can, ahem, right the ship." 

Peter Sciretta, the owner and editor of Slashfilm, said that Aquaman is "better than expected" and carries the same tone and atmosphere as an early Marvel Cinematic Universe entry. "Feels like a Marvel phase one movie, in a good way. It's at its best when it's having fun and not taking itself too seriously. Black Manta [played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II] is great villain that comic book fans will love. Some truly spectacular one shots and good action," he tweeted. 

In a second post, Sciretta wrote that Aquaman doesn't slump in its final act — namely the big battle that caps off the story — and "doesn't devolve into the typical comic book movie blah trap." He also mentioned that he didn't love everything about Aquaman, but found it "surprisingly ambitious" and admitted that much of what he didn't enjoy was likely down to decisions that Zack Snyder made before Wan stepped up as director. "A lot of the aspects I didn't like can probably be traced back to decisions Snyder made that were inherited by Wan (casting, chemistry between Heard/Mamoa...etc)," Sciretta stated.

Fandango managing editor Erik Davis also applauded Aquaman for its ambition: "#Aquaman is the most ambitious DC movie to date — a big, sprawling visual spectacle that is gorgeous, crazy, stuffed with terrific action, and a lot of fun to watch. James Wan, in my opinion, is the true star — he elevates the material, makes it entertaining and conquers it."

Ashley Menzel, the vice president of the LA Online Film Critics Society, wrote that Aquaman strikes the "perfect balance of cheesy humor [and] action," and that Momoa brings his A-game to the titular role. "#Aquaman is over the top fun!" she tweeted. "James Wan shows his skill as a director & puts his mark on DC in a big way. Momoa is perfectly charming & brings Aquaman out of the shadows to stand alongside the greats like #WonderWoman @aquamanmovie."

Likewise, Legion of Leia founder and editor-in-chief Jenna Busch found Momoa's take on Arthur Curry charming as all hell, which helped make the film fun, fresh, and magnetic. "#Aquaman was an absolute blast, from the charm of Momoa's Arthur Curry, to the spectacular visuals to the fun that it was clear that everyone was having. It was exactly what I was hoping for and I can't wait to see it again!" Busch wrote on Twitter.

Final Space writer Ben Mekler wrote that Wan made good on his promise that Aquaman is like Star Wars set below the surface of the sea. He also agreed with Jorgensen's argument that Aquaman is the best thing that's happened to the DCEU since The Dark Knight, though he can't say for certain how well the film connects to the overarching cinematic universe, and made a few jokes about Aquaman including song-and-dance sequences amidst all the action.

"#Aquaman is everything DC fans have been hoping for and more. Rollicking action, an amazing sense of world-building, spellbinding musical numbers in which Aquaman wears clams as tap shoes, and a command performance from Jason Momoa. DC has really righted the ship. The DCEU lives!" Mekler shared in the first in a series of tweets. "With #Aquaman, James Wan has crafted a world the likes of which we've never seen on screen before. It truly is an undersea Star Wars, with a palpable sense of history, hammerhead sharks with human legs who can pop, lock, and drop it, and flat-out incredible creature design. Does #Aquaman tie into the larger DCEU? Hard to say. Little mention of the world outside Atlantis, for better & worse. But what I know is it'll be a long time before I forget Vulko's lyrical dance interpretation of Arthur Curry's conception. Best superhero film since DARK KNIGHT."

While Aquaman isn't perfect – Gizmodo and iO9's Germain Lussier noted that "parts of it are kind of bad, but they are not the majority and, oddly, still fit in with the cartoony tone" — it's evident that the film just works. It's "flat out insane ... big, creative, and crazy," "an unapologetically bold superhero flick," a "really unique superhero origin film," and a "blast from start to finish." 

The DCEU has needed saving for years now, and though last year's Wonder Woman served as a salve that helped cover a few of the film universe's wounds, Justice League reversed some of those healing effects. Of course, one or two good films won't magically bring the DCEU back into good graces with everyone (naysayers will always be around) — but with Wonder Woman having won over millions and Aquaman apparently on track to do exactly the same, we have a great feeling about the future of the DCEU. The tides are quite literally turning in a positive direction, and we're pretty damn excited. 

Aquaman will swim ashore (and perhaps into your heart, too) on December 21.