It’s wildly understood that the DC Comics heroes are the best heroes ever created for page and screen. That said, Aquaman has always been the butt of the joke and not taken as seriously as the rest of his Justice League teammates. Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is but the next direct-to-video animated movie from Warner Bros and DC Comics that is adapting the story arc Throne of Atlantis which is similar to the new 52 era of comics by Geoff Johns. Finally, Aquaman may get his due after pop culture made him out to be a fish out of water. Aquaman is more than that.
If it wasn’t known that this universe is connected Justice League: Throne of Atlantis proves this to be true. It serves as a sequel to the previously released Justice League: War when King Orm (Sam Witwer) declares war against the surface. The main purpose of Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is a true origin story for Arthur Curry/ Aquaman (Matt Lanter), yet screenwriter Heath Corson keeps things close to the chest as far as the adaptation is concerned. Not having read the comic story arc myself, these animated films being released are mostly faithful to the source material – in fact Its shot for shot what is on the page.
Given this faithfulness to the comics the run times have been pretty short – this instance being 70 minutes long. If more is added that isn’t in the original comic, then the less it feels like a true adaptation and therefore the additional plotlines can feel messy and unnecessary. As an origin for Arthur Justice League: Throne of Atlantis serves its purpose – we are finally introduced to the protector of the sea. But as the Justice League is involved, Heath’s script comes across as too convoluted.
“What does a mythical, mystical, undersea world need with missiles? And I so dare you to say that five times fast.”
If the entire Justice League was left out and this story was purely about Arthur and Mera (Sumalee Montano) this would be seen as another success to the already successful animated universe that has been set up. Instead, giving more screen time to members of the Justice League who are completely irrelevant to the story at hand can take away the viewers focus when it should be elsewhere.
Just like the films that came before this, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis has a lot of ground to cover and set up during the runtime so adding in the Superman (Jerry O’ Connell) and Wonder Woman (Rosario Dawson) love story doesn’t make sense, nor does it add anything to Aquaman’s fight for the throne. I haven’t read the source material, so if it is indeed in the comics than I can accept them director Ethan Spaulding keeping it in the film, but it feels forced and out of place.
Many of the heroes that make up the Justice League have zero purpose to this story. The Flash (Christopher Gorham), Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion), and Shazam (Sean Astin) have no substance to add to Aquaman’s story. Villain wise – Orm is a formidable foe but its Black Manta (Harry Lennix) is underutilized and wasted in the final battle for the surface. Only Cyborg (Shemar Moore) is given some kind of role to play in the end while having the most to do within the League.
What could have made for a more compelling origin for Arthur is to actually have him interact with his mother Queen Atlanna (Sirena Irwin). It’s just another missed opportunity that could have added more exposition to the story and to his character.
The best aspect of these animated films from DC and Warner Bros is the animation. Having these films animated allows for endless possibilities. The action for 1 can be more brutal and still keep a more favorable rating for younger viewers. As we can see from a live action perspective setting up a connected universe takes time and patience whereas keeping it animated more of the obscureness of a character’s mythology and lore can be explored.
“Is this the king you want, Atlanteans? A coward who lies to you? You need a light to guide you in the darkness, people of Atlantis. My people.”
It’s always baffling how superheroes choose their disguises and how no one notices the resemblances. Batman (Jason O’ Mara) has it easy – Bruce Wayne is the disguise. With Superman and Wonder Woman it’s a pair of reading glasses that makes all the difference. Can no one really see through this? The same can be said with Marvel and their hat and hoodie disguise when everyone can see their face at all times.
If Justice League: Throne of Atlantis was a cut and dry origin story for Aquaman and not an overstuffed movie with characters that add no value than maybe I would have enjoyed it more but unfortunately the adaptation was too true to the comics. Its ok to change the story to serve the main plot – some of the better scenes take place in Atlantis. When on the surface and away from Arthur, Mera or Orm Heath Corson loses control of his script. Some characters are just there for comic relief while others serve as a punching bag. 2 out of 5.
So, tell me, have you seen Justice League: Throne of Atlantis and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is written by Heath Corson, directed by Ethan Spaulding is Rated PG-13 and has a 57% on Rotten Tomatoes. Justice League: Throne of Atlantis was released on April 22, 2014 and has a runtime of 1 hour and 12 minutes. Justice League: Throne of Atlantis can be streamed on HBO Max.