We’re less than a day away from the release of Aquaman and I am cautiously optimistic. The trailer looks fun, Jason Momoa is pretty cool and I like superhero movies in general. There’s a chance this movie could be a dud, especially given the DC Extended Universe’s spotty record, but at the very least I’m sure it will be a good time at the movies. But this got me thinking: is this the best version of Aquaman we could get? I’m not sure. But another version, albeit a fictional one, that could possibly be better than the one we are getting in real life is the Aquaman starring Vincent Chase from Entourage. Now if you’ve never seen Entourage, the HBO show was about a Hollywood actor in his late 20s and early 30s who lives with his best friends. (When I was 16 that sounded like the coolest thing ever. Now that I’m in my mid 20s, it actually sounds like a nightmare.) Season 2 of Entourage is more or less about Vince trying to get the lead role in Aquaman and coincidentally season 2 is easily the best season of Entourage. In the show Aquaman becomes this huge success of a movie that turns the young actor from an up-and-comer into a bona fide movie star. So which Aquaman is better? For other superhero films this is a much easier debate to have because multiple versions of these flicks do exist due to reboots. This is a hypothetical match because one of these movies hasn’t come out yet and the other one never did. Still, it gave me an excuse to re-watch season 2 of Entourage while also shooting up Jason Momoa press junket interviews like a junkie. And it’s all to answer one hypothetical question: if both Aquaman movies existed, and I could only watch one, which one would I pay $14 to see?
Vincent Chase vs. Jason Momoa
This is where this debate has to start, because the star can make or break the film. With the right actor a bad movie can become passable, and a good movie could be great. So who is the bigger (hypothetical) star, and, just as important, who is the better fit as Arthur Curry.
We know Momoa from his one season on Game of Thrones and he has already played Aquaman in Justice League. He’s also got a lesser known action flick called Braven that also came out this year. So he’s a well known actor, though not quite a movie star. But he has all the makings of one and if this movie does really well maybe he jumps up to that tier. He’s a pretty buff guy and looks like the hero type. And he’s charismatic on screen whether he’s playing a vicious Dothraki or an aquatic based superhero. His interviews are also really fun. Celebrity persona matters and while we’ve only had Momoa in the public sphere for a short while, he’s definitely developed a reputation as a fun and zany dude. More importantly, Momoa has actually proven he’s a good Aquaman. He was one of the few bright spots in Justice League and turned a character I previously thought to be lame into a badass.
The thing that’s kept me up at night is trying to figure out how big of a movie star Vincent Chase is, particularly leading up to the release of Aquaman. If you ask Turtle then Vince is a superstar, but I don’t think that’s actually the case. Here’s what we know about Vince up to this point in the series: Vince is a young actor in his mid 20’s who has bankable good looks but might not be a very good actor. Before Vince does Aquaman he’s really only in two movies. There’s Head On, his breakout role where he co-stars next to Jessica Alba, and there’s Queens Blvd, an indie film that wins the Grand Jury prize at Sundance. So he’s really not a movie star at this point in his career. In fact, it’s pointed out by his agent, Ari Gold that his star has cooled off since the premier of Head On, especially because he turned down a popcorn action flick (Matterhorn) to do Queens Blvd. And yet, Warner Brothers still offers him $5 million to do Aquaman.
I was trying to figure out real life actor is the best real life comparison to Vince Chase and obvious answer is Mark Wahlberg. Entourage is basically about Mark Wahlberg and his career. But I need someone more current. I need a contemporary actor who is not very good at the whole acting part, but is good looking enough to keep getting offered roles in big movies. Sam Worthington came to mind. Terminator: Salvation is Sam Worthington’s breakout film and Avatar is his version of Aquaman. It’s kind of perfect because Avatar is directed by James Cameron who just so happens to fake-direct Aquaman. (More on that later.) But I could do better, and now I’ve settled on Alden Ehrenreich, right before he did Solo: A Star Wars Story. Both Alden and Vince broke out in their mid 20s, Alden with Hail, Caesar! and Vince with Head On. Both have questions surrounding their acting abilities. And both were cast for these huge blockbuster type films. This whole long tangent is just to get to a place where I can ask myself, would I rather see Aquaman starring Alden Ehrenreich or Jason Momoa? The answer is clearly Momoa.
James Cameron vs. James Wan
The answer here seems pretty obvious, and it is, but let’s just dive a little deeper. James Wan is a proven Hollywood director who is more than capable of overseeing a superhero movie. Most people probably know Wan for directing popular horror movies like Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring, as well as masterminding the extended Conjuring universe. Commercially these movies did really well. He’s also taken a crack at directing an established action franchise, directing Furious 7. (That’s the one where they jump from one skyscraper to another in a car.) I have my thoughts on the Fast franchise, mainly that it stopped being good when everyone became un-killable superheroes that worked with the government. But it’s undeniable that Furious 7 was a fun, dumb movie that people really enjoyed and it made a ton of money. It also served as a proper sendoff for the late Paul Walker. I trust Wan directing Aquaman.
But if James freakin’ Cameron is on the table it’s a no brainer. Fake Aquaman is released in 2006 so at this point in Cameron’s career he had directed the first two Terminator movies, he directed the sequel to Alien, and the last movie he’d made was Titanic in 1997. In 2006 Titanic is still the highest grossing movie of all time. Cameron is still 3 years away from directing Avatar, which replaced Titanic as the highest grossing film. So we’re getting a very relevant Cameron in 2006 and he’s bigger name than Wan is in 2018. Cameron is also very adept at using the CGI of the time, and no matter what the plot of the movie is, or whoever is starring in it, I’m certain that fake Aquaman would be the coolest looking aquatic based movie. In the battle of directors, 2006 James Cameron has the edge. (2018 James Cameron might be more debatable.)
This section is neck and neck. Fake Aquaman stars Mandy Moore as Aquagirl, a character I am assuming is both a super powered sidekick and love interest for Vince’s character. Mandy has always been a pretty likable actress, though I wouldn’t call her a movie star by any means in 2006. At that point in her career she was really only known for being in rom-coms or in date night movies like A Walk to Remember. So seeing “Mandy Moore” on a poster for Aquaman maybe wouldn’t have drawn a lot of eyes to the movie. James Woods plays the bad guy in fake Aquaman and that’s actually kind of perfect. He already looks and sounds like a bad guy. What really gets me excited is the fake casting of Arthur Curry’s parents: Ray Liotta and Sharon Stone! I know footage of this movie doesn’t exist, but I would pay the price of admission to see Ray Liotta and Sharon Stone raise a young Aquaman.
Real Aquaman also has a really strong cast. Amber Heard co-stars, though the average movie-goer might not know who she is. I vaguely remember her in Pineapple Express as Seth Rogan’s character’s high school-aged girlfriend and in Never Back Down as the love interest. Arthur Curry’s mom is played by the ageless Nicole Kidman and if you wanted A-List, you got A-List with Kidman. Willem Defoe is also is this film, and by the looks of this trailer he seems to be a mentor of sorts to Aquaman. And Defoe has experience being in a big time superhero movie too. Don’t forget, he played Green Goblin in Spider-Man and helped make Spider-Man the highest grossing movie of 2002. But no good superhero movie is complete without a good villain and real Aquaman has two. First there’s Manta played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. If you don’t know that name, don’t be ashamed. He’s somewhat of a newcomer in Hollywood. If you saw The Greatest Showman he played Zandaya’s brother, and he was also in Baywatch. You might have also seen him in The Get Down, which is on Netflix and he will be in an HBO Watchmen series. Speaking of Watchmen, the other bad guy, King Orm, is played by Patrick Wilson. Wilson is probably at his best when he’s in horror movies like Insidious or The Conjuring (both directed by Wan). But he has experience being in a comic book movie (Watchmen) and he’s played a bad guy before (The Commuter). So I’m in on this cast.
Both Aquaman movies have had their share of troubles surrounding their production. The big thing with fake Aquaman was the on-set romance between co-stars Vince Chase and Mandy Moore. On Entourage we are told that Moore and Chase shared a fling while on the set of A Walk to Remember. That love affair ended disastrously when Vince proposed to Mandy and she turned him down. They rekindled their relationship on the set of Aquaman but that relationship also flamed out and Vince considered dropping out of the movie all together. Real Aquaman doesn’t have any on set troubles that fake Aquaman had, but if you are considering real Aquaman based on its place within the DC Extended Cinematic Universe then this Aquaman is under a lot of pressure. The DCEU has been mostly a mess with a few bright spots here and there. Its best movie so far is Wonder Woman and that’s probably because it’s the only movie that knows what it is. It’s also not trying to be gritty and dark the way Zack Snyder envisioned the DCEU. I’m not saying that the DCEU absolutely needs a hit, but I don’t think Warner Brothers would be very pleased if Aquaman *clears throat* sinks at the box office. So the pressure is there, especially because it needs to keep up with all of the superhero movies that are available to the public. Just this year the MCU delivered three movies, 20th Century Fox dropped Deadpool 2, and Sony released Venom. Back in ’06 the only superhero movies released were Superman Returns and X-Men: The Last Stand. So there’s a lot more pressure on real Aquaman to succeed. Still, there is no rumored on set romances between Jason Momoa and a cast member that can potentially derail the movie, so that’s a plus.
So far Jason Momoa’s Aquaman has had a mostly positive response from the critics. Rotten Tomatoes currently has Aquaman sitting at the solid fresh rating of 70%. Not shabby, but not spectacular either. It’s hard to tell what the opening weekend box office will look like here in America, but Aquaman is killing it overseas. After two weekends Aquaman has a total global box office haul of $260 million. Here’s what we know about Vincent Chase’s Aquaman. Prior to fake Aquaman’s release, Spider-man had the record for largest opening weekend with $112 million. Fake Aquaman breaks that record and earns $116 million its first weekend. If you factor in inflation, that would be about $224 million this year. For reference, this year Avengers: Infinity War brought in $257 million on opening weekend. So fake Aquaman was a fake smash hit. It was good enough to have a roller coaster built after it, and it was enough to get green lit for a sequel, although Vince dropped out of the sequel. (Aquaman 2 fake-starred Jake Gyllenhaal and was fake-directed by Michael Bay.)
Honestly, I’d pay money to see both. They both have a lot going for them. But if I had to choose one I’d have to go with Jason Momoa’s Aquaman. At the end of the day it came down to the guy in the suit and between I-am-Queens-Blvd himself and the former Khal, I gotta go with my boy Jason. So yes; permission to come aboard, Aquaman.
El Guapo is a talented blogger on the rise, regarded by many as a cross between Homer and Socrates. Through real life experience and expertise in many facets of life, the Guaps aims to provide readers with unique takes that will enhance the way they think and live. Keep up with his main blog Infinite Wisdom From El Guapo’s Brain. NBA fans have to place to go with his basketball blog, Infinite Wisdom on the NBA. Like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram. Leave comments in the section below. Stay Guapo out there!