There's emerged a confounding consensus over recent years about Aquaman's significance in the superhero dynasty. Why? You got me. Aquaman rules a world far more expansive than any land-based one, administering powers most of us can only begin to fathom. However, as with Marvel's Sub-mariner, DC's underwater champion has been consistently relegated to the back seat, robbed of the respect he so justly deserves.
A live-action incarnation would surely re-establish his status as a top-level superhero, but for now, an animated adventure, "Justice League Throne of Atlantis", must stand in lieu. The adventure isn't solely Aquaman's, of course, and is shared by other gallant greats: Batman (the indisputable league leader and a tad on the bossy side in this instance); Cyborg (who still shines as the reliable new kid on the block); Superman (always reliable, but perhaps not effectively utilized in this adventure), the Flash; Green Lantern; Wonder Woman; and Shazam (formerly Captain Marvel, and perpetually Billy Batson both in heart and mind).
In truth, director Ethan Spauling's movie (adapted by Heath Corson from Geoff John's six-part comic sag) re-introduces our aquatic hero into a new age, but doesn't twist the legend to the point of unfamiliarity, though several new elements do surface.
Arthur Curry, the man destined to be Atlantis' king, is immersed in woe. His father has just died, and he has yet to come to terms with his heritage. He's a confused hybrid: a "surfacer" drawn to the sea, who his estranged mother hopes will someday rule: a quest abetted by Curry's ultimate wife-to-be, Mera: a dynamic, aquatic force in her own right.
Villains Black Manta (Atlantis' conniving Darth Vader equivalent) and Prince Orm (Curry's malicious half brother: aka, the Ocean Master) convince the Atlanteans to wage war on the surfacers, after staging a submarine attack on the kingdom.
When animosity strikes between the misguided Atlanteans and the Justice League, it's harsh and relentless, with Orm appearing nearly impregnable, but thanks to Batman and Cyborg, our Atlantean lord seizes his much needed leverage.
"Throne" has lots of thrust, though may seem slim compared to its predecessor, "Justice League War". Still, it offers a hint of the developing DC movie universe. More importantly, it gives one of its once hailed staples a respectable comeback. By the adventure's end, no one will doubt Aquaman's rightful place in DC's superhero hierarchy.
Let's hope this is the first in an ongoing line of such aquatic fare. Pop-culture can only benefit from Aquaman's stalwart presence: a modern King Arthur who unwittingly stumbles into command, but once there, administers what he's designed and destined to personify--justice!!!