The newest Aquaman poster draws inspiration from one of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice's biggest influences: Excalibur. The Jason Momoa-led solo film is expected to be the first installment in a new direction for DC Films, but that doesn't mean it will abandon everything that came before, as it's even embracing a number of elements first established by Zack Snyder.
Director James Wan previously spoke to the movie's inspirations, saying it will be "a quest story in the spirit of Raiders of the Lost Ark meets Romancing the Stone," so don't expect it to veer too far away from that tone from the swashbuckling adventure movie, but the clear homage to the Lady of the Lake in John Boorman's Excalibur - and the other obvious parallels inherent in the two stories - can't be ignored. Excalibur is of note because it's also one of Zack Snyder's favorite movies, and a major influence on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
The impact Excalibur had on Batman v Superman is pronounced from as early as the opening scene, where Excalibur is the movie the Waynes saw immediately prior to their murder, as opposed to Zorro, as often depicted in other Batman stories. Incidentally, while Batman's character is traditionally inspired partially by Zorro, the Excalibur shift in Batman v Superman is evident in the story and a number of clear homages, from its ultra-serious take on the DC legends to the Arthur and Lancelot parallels seen in Batman and Superman. Like Arthur defeating Lancelot with his Excalibur before throwing it away in shame, Batman also defeats Superman with a kryptonite spear before throwing it away as well. Similarities of this nature are pervasive throughout, which may explain the similar receptions each movie had on initial release. Roger Ebert called it both a "wondrous vision" and "a mess...a record of the comings and goings of arbitrary, inconsistent, shadowy figures who are not heroes but simply giants run amok. Still, it's wonderful to look at." Sound familiar?
After Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice leaned so heavily on the Arthurian legend, there's no way Aquaman takes nearly such a heavy influence from it, but a number of similarities are obvious without Wan even needing to look to Excalibur for direct inspiration. The Trident of Neptune is a clear stand-in for Excalibur, it just happens to lay in a much larger lake. Aquaman is also an Arthurian figure who will prove his worthiness of the throne by acquiring the Trident.
While Justice League's attempt to tonally adjust from the controversy of Zack Snyder's DCEU installments was more extreme, excising nearly everything that linked it to Snyder's films, Aquaman seems to be taking a more measured approach. Sure, it's adding the color and humor critics clamored for, but it's also maintaining the same sense of grandeur of Snyder's films. We'll find out how the new approach pays off in December, but it's certainly encouraging to see a less reactionary approach to filmmaking and marketing.