Aquaman and Wife


This is how movie selection with my wife usually works. Our in-laws volunteer to look after the boys for a Friday evening so my wife suggests that we see a movie about terminally ill, homeless French orphans. I’ll say that I don’t want to see a movie about terminally ill homeless French orphans because that sounds depressing and, like moviegoers during the Great Depression, I go to the movie theater to forget my miserable life of poverty, anguish and woe and maybe catch a Looney Tunes short or news brief urging me to buy war bonds. 

I’ll suggest that we see something lighter and more fun, like a comedy or a superhero movie and then we either end up seeing the movie about the terminally homeless french orphans or we end up staying at home and watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia after the boys go to bed .

On a recent Friday, however, something strange and unexpected and ultimately unfortunate happened. I got my way. My wife relented and instead of seeing something like Boy Erased, our previous fun trip to the movies, we saw a slightly different kind of Nicole Kidman movie: Aquaman. 

Now my wife does not like superhero movies. At all. Not even a little bit. She finds them silly and stupid and boring. Like video games and sports, she simply cannot understand their appeal.


Yet my wife acquiesced to seeing Aquaman and I hoped against hope that this would be the movie that would, if not necessarily turn my wife around on superhero movies and superheroes in general, then at least illustrate that superhero movies are more fun than she might imagine. In addition to being a box-office monster, the movie has gotten mostly good reviews. Rotten Tomatoes summarizes the critical consensus for the film as, “Aquaman swims with its entertainingly ludicrous tide, offering up CGI superhero spectacle that delivers energetic action with an emphasis on good old-fashioned fun.”

At the very least, my wife likes looking at beautiful people, and Aquaman is lousy with gorgeous human beings, Jason “My Man” Mamoa chief among them. So I hoped for the best when we sat down at the Movie Tavern for our 7:45 screening. 

It did not take long for that hope to die. Aquaman, god bless it, isn’t just sillier and stupider than your average superhero movie, which is not exactly the most cerebral and sophisticated of genres; it’s sillier and stupider than you would reasonably expect an Aquaman movie to be. I was experiencing the billion-dollar blockbuster through my wife’s skeptical eyes and good lord was it ever lacking. 

It only took about five minutes for the light and life in my wife’s eyes to go out completely, replaced by a look of total and complete boredom. I see about eighty percent of all the big superhero movies so I get something out of every last one of them. If  nothing else, I’m interested in how a new superhero movie will fit into the pantheon of superhero movies, how it deviates from the norm or adheres to the conventions of genre. 


The wife says I can find something like about every movie, that I can find something interesting or unusual or redeeming about everything I see. That’s probably true because I’ve trained my brain to think that way, to find someone good in even the worst entertainment as a way of keeping myself interested and engaged, and also reasonably sane.. 

Since my wife makes a point of seeing no superhero movies that didn’t come into play. She didn’t care that Aquaman was, to use the evocative phrase of Clint Worthington, “Wet Thor” or Soggy Black Panther. For my wife, the only real questions raised by Aquaman were “Dear God how could anyone like this?” and “When will this be over?” 

It did not, help, dear reader, that Aquaman is 143 minutes long. 143 minutes long! Nearly two and a half hours! That is roughly one hour longer than a movie called Aquaman has any right to be. Sitting next to the most bored person in the world, vicariously experiencing a level of boredom through my wife greater than I’ve ever known before I felt every one of those 143 minutes acutely. I say that as someone who kind of enjoyed Aquaman, who found it silly and pleasingly preposterous as well as shapeless and endless and stupid in a bad as well as good way. But seeing it through my wife’s eyes made it seem less like a fun romp and more like a watery endurance test. 


Needless to say, our superhero date night experiment was an unmistakable failure and the wife will be choosing the film for our next five date nights or so. Who knows, maybe those movies about terminally ill, homeless French orphans will be more fun than they look. 

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