Aquaman is the Rodney Dangerfield of the Justice League—for decades, he’s earned no respect from the comic-book superhero world. Yes, he has the power to influence the undersea world, so why does he work a day job at the very land-based Hall of Justice? And, yes, he can talk to fishes—but what good is that?
“Batman, the Legion of Doom is attacking the mayor!”
“Then how about you stay here again, Aquaman? Unless you can summon some sharks that can walk and survive outside water?”
“Just order us lunch. Use your powers to make sure I actually get some fresh tuna this time.”
So, in the ever-expanding DC universe, a film franchise for Aquaman seemed improbable at best—except it’s happened, and the early returns are surprisingly positive. Aquaman has his own movie, and more are likely on the way. It’s one of those holiday films that promises to linger into the new year, and your teenagers are its target audience. You can use the film’s themes and narrative arc to spark discovery and exploration about the Kingdom of God with your teenagers.
Use Aquaman’s Story Arc to Spark Discussion: The 2017 film The Justice League film portrayed Aquaman as a heavy drinker who occasionally helped out the locals, until circumstances funneled him into a circle of heroic friends. Aquaman explores those roots in greater depth, following his rise from spontaneous do-gooder to a true, responsible hero.
- Aquaman’s “superpowers” don’t always seem so super—what do you like and not like about that?
- If you had to choose the superpowers of one member of The Justice League, whose would you pick, and why?
- In what ways do the themes in Aquaman’s story remind you of the themes in Jesus’ story, and in what ways are those themes different?
- Responsibility can sometimes feel overwhelming and suffocating to us, but Aquaman finds life in his responsibilities by the end of the film—when have you experienced a sense of purpose and alive-ness in responsibility, and why?
- What responsibilities is Jesus asking you to take on right now, and how is your response to those responsibilities impacting your life?
In what ways do the themes in Aquaman’s story remind you of the themes in Jesus’ story, and in what ways are those themes different?Click to tweet
Focus on How Others Impact Aquaman’s Story: Aquaman’s parents are from completely different worlds—their relationship is improbable, at best. Because of this diversity, Aquaman lives in the tension their choices have produced in his life. We see this same tension play out in other characters, too.
- Aquaman spends most of his life living reactively instead of embracing his true birthright, claiming “Atlantis murdered my mother.” His half-brother is similarly reactive, but uses his complicated upbringing as an excuse to descend into dark places. In what ways has your family background propelled you into making a good impact on others, and in what ways has your family background been a challenge you’ve had to overcome?
- Vulko, Aquaman’s mentor from Atlantis, tries to prepare him for a battle with a massive army that remains hidden and unnoticed. Similarly, Jesus describes the battle facing us as a spiritual war against unseen “powers and principalities.” How have you noticed this spiritual war surface in your life? And in what ways do you engage in this spiritual war?
Explore the Kingdom-of-God Parallels In the Story: Scenes and storylines in the film reflect truths in the Kingdom of God, so explore those themes with your teenagers.
- When Aquaman is first exposed to the full reality of Atlantis, its beauty and breadth is mind-blowing. Once he experiences this “mythic” world for himself, how does that change him? We get bare descriptions of heaven and mythic references to it—in what ways do you think heaven will be different from our common perceptions of it?
- As Aquaman and Mara dive into the darkness of the ocean, creatures terrorizing them from all around are held back by only a small flare. How have you seen the “tiny light” of Jesus beat back the darkness in your life?
- A great line in the film says that a king only fights for his kingdom, but a hero fights for everyone. Who is Jesus fighting for? Back up your answer with a specific example
Sure, Aquaman will always be a harder sell than Batman or Superman. But maybe he’s just the sort of superhero we need in an age of bluster and arrogance—a courageous defender with a humble and troubled backstory. Consider taking your whole group to the film, then hang out afterward and use some of these discussion questions to fuel your conversation.