No one is brave enough to say what we’re all thinking, so I have to: 2006 cinematic tour de force Aquamarine is gay Aquaman, which means it’s astronomically better.
The latest movie to splash into the DC universe is the James Wan-directed Aquaman. As the first origin story since 2017’s extraordinarily successful Wonder Woman, the superhero movie was one of the movies to see over Christmas. As a fan of DC, and Nicole Kidman and Amber Heard, who both star in the movie, I begrudgingly went to see the movie and was superbly disappointed—and my hopes weren’t too high to begin with.
Jason Momoa stars as the titular character, who is probably the most beastly, toxically masculine, and unlikeable superhero to ever grace a DC or Marvel movie. I felt pressed by his aggressive, testosterone-on-overdrive presence throughout the movie, and couldn’t help but feel resentful that Momoa was even allowed to play the role, given his previous disgusting jokes about rape. Knowing that he once “joked” about getting to “rape beautiful women” as Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones, it was hard to watch him repeatedly disobey Mera (Heard), and then watch her fall for him. He consistently treats her like garbage, does the opposite of what she asks, and insults her, and yet we’re supposed to find his unwieldy behavior endearing. Like, even Tony Stark is lovable, and he’s a piece of shit. Momoa’s Aquaman just had zero redeeming qualities. The movie, as well as his performance and character, were the antithesis of Wonder Woman and Gal Gadot’s character, which was jarring to watch.
On the other hand, what admittedly makes Aquaman special, what makes it stand out from all other superhero movies, is that it introduces us to a whole new underwater world. It’s unlike any other DC or Marvel movie, because it takes us into the trenches of the ocean, introducing us to new creatures, technology, and cities, while all other superhero movies are bound to Earth or space. And while the movie was aesthetically and visually stunning, I was plagued with one thought throughout the ceaseless 2+ hours of the film: Why didn’t I just stay home and rent Aquamarine? Aquamarine offers a similar landscape, plus it stars Emma Roberts, JoJo Levesque, Arielle Kebbel, and Sara Paxton, features kind feminine energy, and has zero aggressive male behavior. The choice is obvious, but hindsight is 20/20.
Sure, Aquamarine doesn’t take us underwater into unexplored territories, but I’d rather watch a movie with Emma Roberts than cheap Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson knockoff Jason Momoa. Aquamarine is insultingly underrated, and is basically a cornerstone of LGBTQ history thanks to its cast, music, and thematic elements (oceans are canonically queer, as is mermaid magic). Plus, you can rent the movie for only 99 cents right now on Amazon Prime. Why did I waste $15 watching Jason Momoa act like he’s better than bisexual queen Amber Heard, which isn’t even remotely believable and is basically homophobic, when I could’ve stayed home and watched Sara Paxton dance to “Island in the Sun” with crimped hair?
If you’re unfamiliar with the 2000s teen classic, get familiar: Aquamarine is about two best friends, Claire (Roberts) and Hailey (JoJo), who are about to be separated in five days when Hailey’s mom will move to Australia. Hailey prays to the ocean god (obviously) for a miracle that will prevent her mom from leaving. As a result, a mermaid named Aquamarine (Paxton) washes ashore and befriends the girls. And if you help a mermaid, they’ll grant you one wish. Aquamarine tells the girls that she needs to prove to her father that love exists, and if she fails, she will have to go home to Atlantis and marry a man she doesn’t love. So, they help her find love.
First of all, that’s basically Nicole Kidman’s character’s exact storyline in Aquaman; Atlanna (Kidman), queen of Atlantis washes ashore and falls in love with a human man, but is forced to return to her arranged marriage, when the man she really loves is an earthling. Is Aquamarine the Atlanna origin story? Probably.
Also, Aquaman is—surprise surprise—written and directed by men. It’s meant to be brimming with traditionally “masculine” energy, and overflowing with testosterone, which is a total nightmare. If I wanted to seek out Bad Male Behavior, I’d log on to Twitter and check my mentions. On the converse side, Aquamarine was directed by a woman and written by the legendary Jessica Bendinger, the writer behind 2000s classics like Bring It On, Stick It, and First Daughter; she’s essentially teen movie royalty.
So, the cast of Aquamarine is phenomenal, the movie is written and directed by women, Jason Momoa isn’t in it, and it has a phenomenal soundtrack: Teddy Geiger, Vitamin C, the Mandy Moore cover of “One Way or Another,” which fucking rips, Atomic Kitten (!!!), and the Jonas Brothers. What does Aquaman have? Sigur Ros? A cover of Toto’s “Africa” by Pitbull?? I’m not even joking, it really has a fucking Pitbull cover of Toto. I’m telling you, this movie is homophobic!!
Finally, Arielle Kebbel plays the bitchy queen bee popular girl in Aquamarine, and as we all know and talk about all the time, every movie in which Arielle Kebbel plays a nasty woman is basically Oscar-worthy (see: Fifty Shades Freed, John Tucker Must Die). Aquamarine is serving blue hair streaks, ocean magic, storms, shopping montages, conch phones, pop music, and an A-List cast. What more could you even want from a movie?
Save what’s left of 2018 by doing yourself a favor: Skip the toxic masculinity of Aquaman and instead rent Aquamarine, the Atlanna prequel, on Amazon Prime.