We need a Kickstarter or Go Fund Me campaign to keep Zack Snyder the auteur of the DC Universe films. Snyder, who directed 300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and now Justice League, is the only contemporary filmmaker who gives his characters larger-than-life intensity. To wit: Jason Momoa's Aquaman, the Sexiest Movie Character of the Year.
Momoa was first introduced in a teasing cameo during Batman v Superman when tribal drums summoned a group of unseen DC superheroes from their individual lairs. (It suggested a call for the sexual substance that the infernally juvenile Marvel movies keep repressed). Momoa emerged with wild hair, bulging physique and gleaming eyes--a promise finally fulfilled when Aquaman appears in Justice League.
Both Momoa and Snyder seem to understand that Aquaman insinuates a sensual dream. The merman's muscular torso and trident spear are implicitly phallic; his superpowers are an artistic extension of his virility. Snyder upgrades the comic book figure's original blond-hair image with Momoa's mane, a blond-streaked combination of third-world dreads and redneck mullet. He's exotic where most comic book superheroes tend towards conventional Western respectability. If Batman is moody, Momoa's Aquaman is potentially dangerous; he doesn't suggest sexual darkness but the heat of sexual threat.
Despite all the "Nasty Women" and adolescent boys embracing Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman as a Hillary surrogate, Gadot's girlish pique didn't send the erotic signals that Momoa emits and that Snyder knows how to photograph. When Aquaman first appears in battle he lands with two feet planted on a rock and a wave of water sprays up behind him, rising like a theater curtain to a scenario of your wildest imagining. It's correlative to the unforgettable moment in Man of Steel when Henry Cavill's Superman first appears, emerging from a wall of flames. For images like these, Snyder deserves a standing ovation. (You know what I mean).
During Justice League's story, Aquaman refers to his history from the kingdom of Atlantis and his personal domestic conflicts--all part of the way Snyder makes comic book movies express mature experience. Most importantly, he films actors so that their emotional lives are also expressed physically: their commitment to justice, truth and righteousness take on bodily strength. Mid-battle, Aquaman swims through undersea currents with the force of ejaculate.
That same intensity ignites the gleam of Aquaman's ice-blue eyes. This effect adds to Momoa's screen presence, the quality that director Walter Hill, who directed Momoa in Bullet to the Head, described as simply, "He's a man among men." Momoa updates Robert Mitchum's heavy-lidded sensual allure with a different, ethnic magnetism. This attribute was overpowering last summer in Ana Lily Amirpour's The Bad Batch, where Momoa played the leader of a quarantined immigrant gang. But all that wasted potency, intended as a (misguided) political comment on the future of the West's tribalism, is used to more sensible, humane effect in Justice League.
Snyder's sense of our sensual brotherhood includes Ezra Miller's amusing, gay Jewish The Flash, Ray Fisher's technologically enhanced Cyborg (a black scientist's son who evokes the sensitive ethnic backstory of Josh Trank's Fantastic Four) as well as the already familiar masculine duet of Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne and Cavill's Superman/Clark Kent. Momoa equals their manly image but the Aquaman character itself expands on the idea of masculine adaptation. Like the ancient warriors in 300 and The Rise of an Empire, his essence is more than a costumed alter-ego. Inscribed with scale-like tattoos that seem to give him a second skin, Momoa's Aquaman's entire body--his masculine essence--is readable.
Filming the sexiest movie character of the year ain't kid's stuff. More gay filmmakers can learn from this example. Thanks to Momoa and Snyder, it's the stuff of cinematic genius.