James Wan's Aquaman is a bombastic, cheesy, and beautiful film that is receiving praise from fans and critics alike. Jason Momoa completely owns the role of Arthur Curry (even if it just seems like he's being himself) and Amber Heard is the perfect counterpoint to the brawny king. The story may lack the kind of complexity found in The Dark Knight or Captain America: Civil War, but it doubles down on creating an inventive and alluring world with likable characters (something the DCEU has struggled with, beyond Wonder Woman).
Atlantis, the true star of the film, is a visual feast that seems to require multiple viewings to unpack everything it has to offer. Even then, Wan meticulously placed several Easter eggs alluding to different sects of pop culture (including a nod to his own work), and they're almost impossible to identify without a proper guide.
Hidden within the depths of the film are small clues (whether spoken or depicted) that offer a tiny bit of insight into the movies, television shows, and comics that influenced Aquaman. From a small aside about a major villain in Justice League to an ancient tale of brothers warring for a throne, there are plenty of allusions hidden away in what is perhaps the DCEU's greatest flick.
'Pinocchio'Photo: Walt Disney Pictures
Pinocchio is referenced multiple times throughout the film, and the allusions apply to both the Disney movie and the short story that inspired it. Arthur briefly mentions the tale when he urges Mera to hide inside a whale's mouth to escape Orm's grasp. When the two arrive in Italy later in the film, Mera is given the book by a child, and she chastises Arthur for betting both their lives on something he read in a children's story.
Arthur, being the goofball he is, says he only ever saw the movie, and he got the idea from that.14581Is this a reference fit for a king?
Amnesty BayPhoto: DC Comics
Arthur's childhood home, which just so happens to be his father's lighthouse, is located in Amnesty Bay, ME, a fictional location in DC Comics. The lighthouse bears a striking resemblance to the one presented in Geoff Johns' New 52 Aquaman comic run.
That shouldn't come as much of a surprise, as Wan has frequently said that Johns and Reis's Aquaman arc heavily inspired his film.8532Is this a reference fit for a king?
'Jaws'Photo: Universal Pictures
James Wan's Aquaman wears its influences on its sleeve, and there are plenty of subtle - and several not-so-subtle - references to classic films, TV shows, and comics. When Black Manta is building his suit, presented in a spectacular '80s montage, we hear him say the line, "I'm gonna need a bigger helmet," a twist on the famous phrase from Steven Spielberg's Jaws. In Jaws, after the shark has decimated the ship, Brody says, "You're gonna need a bigger boat."
Years later, it was revealed that the line was actually ad-libbed by Roy Scheider.9146Is this a reference fit for a king?
H.P. LovecraftPhoto: The Complete Cthulhu Mythos Tales / Barnes & Noble
James Wan is a self-professed super fan of Lovecraftian horror. There are elements of H.P. Lovecraft's influence strewn throughout the film, with the Trench sequence and Arthur's introduction to the Karathen being the most notable. Lovecraft is famous for his monstrous Cthulhu, which has spurred its own devoted and intense fandom on the internet. Wan threw in an overt nod to Cthulu early in the film: when Thomas Curry brings Queen Atlanna into his home, there's a copy of The Dunwich Horror - a Lovecraft story about Cthulu - underneath a snow globe on his coffee table.
The design for the Karathen is certainly inspired by Lovecraft's creation, with the Trench monsters showcasing similar otherworldly attributes that have made Lovecraft's work so admired.9954Is this a reference fit for a king?