I don’t have any monetary gain if Aquaman is successful or not. I’m also not a film analyst that tracks ‘legs’ or weekend ‘drops’. I’m simply a guy asking the question everyone is thinking: What happens if Aquaman hits the $1 Billion mark? And as of today, it seems like that question is shifting from ‘if’, to ‘when’.
With Aquaman potentially being the first film in the DC Universe to earn that achievement, it has me looking at two scenarios. Both have valid reasons to warrant the famous saying: “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Fans on both sides of the “Box Office doesn’t equal success” brigade will most likely fall into two categories: “Don’t celebrate what DC Fans have complained about when it comes to Marvel Films” and “Hitting a billion dollars shouldn’t matter”.
What We Know
Typically, when a film is financially successful, that indicates that fans and general audiences enjoyed it. Spider-Man back in 2002 is a prime example. It wasn’t until 10 years later when Avengers came out that films were beginning to be judged based on Box Office Success. Technically speaking, that’s subjective anyway, but let’s pretend that’s when it happened.
How do we determine what’s good? The naysayers said Batman v Superman would’ve hit a billion based solely on the fact it had Batman AND Superman in it. That’s easier said than done. Add the unifying hatred from critics who never even gave the film a chance, and public opinion is swayed before the film even released here in the states. Had I listened to them, I would have never seen my all-time favorite film. From that day forward, I never gave critics the opportunity to affect me. That’s what I know.
Did Warner Bros. Finally Learn?
Forgetting Justice League ever happened for a moment, look what Warner Bros. did this time. Rather than allow the US critics, bloggers, and journalist the power to diminish their film before US audiences see it, they had an epiphany: Why would we let them control that narrative when no matter what, they won’t like our films? If fans can spread positive word of mouth before the bloggers, the hype will build on itself like Wonder Woman.
If you didn’t notice, no one was saying anything wicked about Wonder Woman, and look what happened with that film. Suicide Squad earned almost $747 Million WITHOUT opening in China and it had terrible reviews. The Chinese market is almost as big as the US Market now and will likely be more influential within the next 5 years. So, instead of allowing critics to sway viewers, they allowed fans to sway fans. It worked. But here’s the thing, how does Warner Bros. treat the welcomed success of their first billion-dollar film within the DC Universe?
The worst thing I can see happening is Warner Bros. milks the franchise without thinking about how it did so well in the first place. By that, I mean rushing a sequel either without the key players involved or not creating it organically. Sure, Jason Momoa can lead the film on his own, but what about James Wan? Is he willing to direct a sequel? And if he’s not, do we want to have another director come in with a different take on the character?
The best thing I can see happening is Warner Bros. not only continues to open films overseas but disregards the critical reception of their films. Batman v Superman is probably the most ambitious and thought-provoking film I’ve ever seen. It’s so much so, that I cannot for the life of me, see how Warner Bros. even had the temerity to release it. So when that film earned an astounding $873 Million but was blindsided by critics, they did a 180. Justice League gets made by a committee that has check-lists of everything ALL the critics said they DIDN’T like in Batman v Superman, and that film failed financially.
So now they know that a film can work if they release it overseas and critics don’t get first opportunity to trash it. Their courage is big enough to take chances on films that can be true to their director’s vision. We never get a Justice League film ever again. I don’t know about you, but that is the best-case scenario. Oh, and because of Aquaman being such a success, Jason Momoa can leverage the sequel with the Snyder Cut of Justice League releasing.
Then there’s the question on every DC Fans mind: Should we celebrate an achievement we’ve chastised the other camp for doing to prove a film is amazing? I’ve seen some say that fans shouldn’t be boasting about Aquaman potentially hitting the billion dollar mark. Really? Why Not? Forget the other camp for a moment. Aquaman has been the joke of the League for years and was never even thought of as being able to carry a franchise by himself. And his first film ever, generates a billion at the Box Office? That’s so fantastic that we should all be basking in the glory of just how culturally important the film is.
But at the same time, most can’t ignore the other camp no matter what. So instead of saying “hitting a billion dollars doesn’t matter”, for DC Films, it does. How many times have we read “Is this the film that will save the DCEU?” I don’t know about you, but seeing that headline since Suicide Squad was vexatious. Seeing it on Wonder Woman wasn’t fair because it was her film debut. Justice League was a joke. Now it’s Aquaman but what’s hilarious is all of those films have worked on their own. I could go on about how “saving a franchise” happens when you’re 10 films in, but we all acknowledge they require clicks.
So What Do We Do?
I say, enjoy the monumental achievement of a DC Film earning $1 Billion in spite of the critics, bloggers, and journalist that have been against anything non-Marvel since Day 1. We should all have our arms crossed with a big “That’s Right” on our face! If anyone says “you shouldn’t be celebrating”, ask them why not? The cultural impact alone should end the conversation. But even then, who cares? With all the negativity the DC Films have gotten since 2013, it’s nice to know that it won’t affect the studio anymore.
And if anyone is saying “hitting a billion doesn’t matter”, tell that to the people who created the film. You don’t know the hours and hours they spent to create it. Being a DC Fan, you should be exultant that a film is achieving that type of accomplishment. We know all too well, that each and every DC Film gets graded unjustly. So to witness Aquaman still succeed means the studio won’t heed to the critics that reduced Justice League to “thirsty” jokes. If you’re in favor of that, well then, we don’t have to depend upon the kindness of monsters anymore.