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What The Early Reactions Of ‘Aquaman’ Tell Us

What does the reactions to the Aquaman screenings tell us

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Nothing.

Absolutely Nothing.

We got news that an early test screening was held in San Fernando Valley in California sometime these past few weeks. That much we know of. But other than that, no direct sources (for obvious reasons), no descriptions (again for obvious reasons), and lastly, the word ‘Good’ being thrown around by third or fourth ‘he said-she said’ rhetoric presented as fact.

What did the audience think? Biased journalism sells more, so the obvious notion here is to spin the ‘Good’ comment into a trouble or worrisome title and draw readers in so it creates controversy. But that’s not what we do here. So what is everyone saying: “Early reactions aren’t overwhelmingly positive” is the overall consensus. Shouldn’t there be some reason for that, or facts presented to back up the claim? Oh, right, biased journalism.

And that’s why you’re not hearing from the actual audience (they sign Non-Disclosure Acts for a reason) just yet, but why they’re obviously speaking about it, otherwise NO ONE would have known about this special screening. So if one person tells another “Hey, I know you know about Marvel films and all that stuff, and I saw Aquaman last night. It was actually pretty good. Wasn’t expecting that“, and then THAT person tells someone else “heard Aquaman was good“, then THAT person tells another “heard Aquaman was good, but that’s all“, you could see how this last person being told can say “heard Aquaman was good, not great“. By all means, that is an accurate statement; to THAT ONE person. That’s not indicative of what the actual audience member thought of the film. So how can things be written as ‘Aquaman is good, not great’, and be taken as fact?

Recently, I learned from Christopher McQuarrie, Director of Mission Impossible: Fallout, that test screenings can be a good or bad thing. The audience doesn’t know what film they’re watching. So, say the audience has no relation or care in the world for Superhero films, couldn’t we say that a reaction of ‘Good’ means that anyone still salivating from the trailer will be head-over-heels in love with the film? We can also assume that VFX nor Score is complete, meaning the subjectively ‘Good’ description should be met with higher praise for an incomplete film, couldn’t we?

Let’s go one step further and say these audience members are very familiar with all manner of Superhero films. They would know that this film is incomplete, not ready for public viewing, and still has the possibility to be worked on for final release. And they STILL say it was a ‘Good’ film. I’m not sure what your feelings are, but mine were that the Justice League trailers were equivalent to cinematic masterpieces compared to the actual film we got in theaters. And we all know why. But this time around, Wan has been adamant that they (Warner Bros.) wouldn’t be getting too involved with that aspect of his film, and the first trailer we have seen is phenomenal, subjectively speaking and with audience consensus, of course. So why would the film revert back to just ‘Good’ if the trailer, in my eyes, was ‘Great’? That’s a simple answer: Because it’s all subjective. If I like it, and you don’t, should I write an article saying ‘Everyone praises Aquaman as great!’ or ‘No one likes Aquaman‘? Which one is right? Better yet, which one is fact? None. So why would I write anything based on one person’s opinion, or mine, about an Aquaman screening as fact, if I wouldn’t write one about the trailer? Are we at the point now that we’re taking a collective number of a few people, and basing fact and opinion as a solid representation of the entire fandom? Sorry, I must have missed that T.P.S. report.

Now let’s look at the actual film itself. What could have been ‘Good’ about it? Please tell me the last time we saw Aquaman on the big screen in his solo film? Or how about the last time we saw a Superhero film about an underwater hero in film? Last I checked, we’ve never seen anything involving a Superhero underwater, let alone, the majority of the entire film taking place in the ocean. So what can this film be possibly compared to, if it’s something that’s never been done before? In order to say ‘It’s good, but not amazing’, one would have to have reason and logic to base their decision on that. Measuring a film with similar or repeating superhero themes, is a modus operandia particular way or method of doing something, especially one that is characteristic or well-established— of most of the Comic Book film geeks out there, myself included. The nostalgia one feels when seeing new incarnations of a hero we grew up with, sometimes creates the conflicts within our inner mind that we are now growing up, which is how life is. We reject that sometimes, which is only natural. But comparisons can negatively impact ones own enjoyment if expectations aren’t met because a certain film wasn’t similar to another. Especially if the film is a completely new idea that’s never been done before.

So what are people expecting? Is anyone really going to compare this film to Man of Steel or Wonder Woman? How can we, if Superman and Wonder Woman weren’t filmed underwater? Those are the only two comparisons you can actually make in regards to other films, simply because of the world they exist in. No one would truly (without obviously wanting to draw controversy to gain attention) make ANY comparison about Aquaman to a Marvel film, since they have yet to have any underwater character on-screen before, would they? That’s just ignorance showing. So, in order to say something is ‘Good’ when talking about film, you would have to complete the sentence by saying ‘good, compared to…’, which is only natural. Ah so, the plot thickens once more. Are we truly comparing an incomplete film to a completed and fully released film? That opens up so many questions, I don’t have the time to write them out. Just a few would be: “Did you see both films in their incomplete state? Are they the same genre? Are you biased toward any actors or directors, or even studios that may influence your opinion on discussing both films? Are both films from the same property?” You can hopefully see how that would be an odd thing to do, nevertheless, it is what’s happening now.

Early reactions shouldn’t be met with any real data based on a film no one has ever seen before, and yet, here we are, discussing it as if so. When did we allow any DC Film released after 2013, to be viewed before it was finished, and have major ‘audience screen test’ reactions to dictate opinions, followed by bloggers spewing it out for clicks? I can think of a few, and look how that turned out. In my own opinion, we got Justice League because everybody thought they knew how to make a DC Superhero film, and Warner Bros. listened with their wallets, heard their inputs, while all the while tried to mash them all up in to one big Marvel film disguised as a DC property. They didn’t trust or believe in their directors true vision. They also were under the notion that they could just tell the fans that the film would stick with what was being sold to us, and we would flock like sheep without question. They were wrong. And they learned; hopefully.

Since comparison is human nature, and a way we validate our choices on subjective material, there’s no way of subduing it. But if we allow ourselves to be fully immersed with a film, knowing it’s something else entirely than what we have seen before, then maybe we might mitigate the negative thoughts we have when we hear a film is ‘Good’, based on an incomplete product and hearsay. Focusing on the word ‘Good’ being described about a film that’s not done is, for lack of a better word, a ‘Good’ thing. And if you cannot make up your own mind and rely on others opinions on everything, take my advice. Look at the Theatrical Release of Justice League in the third act, and compare that CGI to the CGI in the first Aquaman trailer and you’ll see that the film will most likely be a whole lot better than ‘Good’. Subjectively speaking.

 

Father // Columnist // Co-Host for the DC Films Hub Podcast @DCFilmsHubPod // Male Feminist // Unapologetic Snyder Enthusiast // Xbox

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