Warning: SPOILERS for Aquaman and Black Panther
It's easy for any movie fan to see how Aquaman and Black Panther are telling the same basic story of competing kings. But despite Marvel's usual dominance and the popularity of both movies, in this case... it's DC who delivers the better ending.
The fact that Marvel and DC's films are similar shouldn't be controversial to anyone, especially not in the superhero genre, which repeats classic plots more than most. And it goes without saying that Black Panther's villain is one of the MCU's best, basing his mission on real-world injustices and a compelling, tragic origin story of his own. The same goes for King Orm a.k.a. Ocean Master, confirming that these villains have as much in common as the heroes, T'Challa and Arthur Curry.
But where Black Panther makes its villain into a monster in need of slaying, Aquaman makes the hard choice to show Orm mercy. In other words, giving this story the ending it should have had.
- This Page: Aquaman & Black Panther Tell The Same Story
- Next Page: Aquaman Succeeds Where Black Panther Fails
Ocean Master & Killmonger, Villain Kings
Based on the plot alone, it might seem that Killmonger and Aquaman are the same character. But make no mistake: it's Ocean Master and the Killmonger that are the real kindred spirits in these stories. Even if they're cast as the antagonists to the movie's hero, and can not claim a throne or kingdom by birthright, they DO have legitimate claims. That alone makes them different among villains, since their quest for power is a sacred, and presumably ancient thing. In other words: not evil or malicious.
Both issue a challenge to their rival, vanquish them in a fight they've prepared for their entire life, and once power has been consolidated, and the military leader brought to heel, they enter the next phase of their heroic mission: War.
Unfortunately, the biggest flaw and villainous trait of both Orm and N'jadaka is also the same: a loyalty and sense of nationalism so passionate, so violent, and so righteous, they are willing to cross any line to achieve their goal. They both want war, and both can justify it based on facts and history... but each has a hero standing in their way.
Aquaman & Black Panther, Rightful Kings
Even though T'Challa has to be dethroned to start over, both he and Arthur Curry truly begin their march up the mountain to true kingliness under the same circumstances. Their thrones - those of Wakanda and Atlantis - simply must be claimed as quickly as possible, or else the entire world will be plunged into chaos and violence. Not exactly the most interesting stakes, but definitely on the scale superhero movie fans are used to.
From there the parallels multiply: both Aquaman and Black Panther rely on the women in their life to push, drag, and even shove them towards their destiny. And both have a massive, glorious, secret weapon to help them turn the final battle in their favor: the Karathen for Arthur, and M'Baku for T'Challa. Yet no matter how massive the war, it is decided by a fight to the death between two kings, pursuing completely opposed ideas of what their duty demands.
And as similar as Aquaman and Black Panther have been to this point, it's in that final battle where DC triumphs - and Marvel comes up short.
Page 2 of 2: Why Aquaman Succeeds Where Black Panther Fails
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018