Comic books have appeared in most people’s lives at some time, whether it be the cheeky antics of comedy comic characters like Dennis the Menace, superhero exploits with titles like Superman or even the funny pages in your local newspaper. Somewhere, somehow, you will have come across this medium. With comic book movies becoming a huge draw at the box office as of late, interest in comic books has never been higher. But there was a time before this when the comic book moviegoer was starved for attention when it came to movies about their favorite superhero teams. So what did these fans do? They just made the movies themselves.
With the introduction of YouTube, it became even easier to make your own superhero movie and be able share it with the world. Now, I am a huge fan of these fan films and have seen quite a few. While browsing through the internet, I decided to do a series of articles highlighting some of these movies. So for your viewing pleasure, here is part one of this series and today we focus on a DC character who never seems to get a fair deal, the lord of the DC Universe oceans, Aquaman.
Aquaman is a hero that has gone through various character changes to try to make him more relatable to an audience but for the most part, he always seems to get slammed by fans who for some reason see him as a kind of joke. The recent DC Comics New 52 version of Aquaman has helped to change perception of this hero, even making jokes about how people see him as a fishy loser. Gone is the messed up 90s hero with a trident for a hand and a crazy beard and long gone is the campy hero who used to ride a sea-horse to work.
But in 1984, the campy version of the hero was definitely still alive and kicking and made his heroic entrance to the world of entertainment via this film The Cast of the Angler. This has to be one of the greatest attempts so far to put Aquaman onto the small screen (yes, even better than Smallville). Shot for $10,000 by students Thomas Farr and Jeff Klein, with very little crew to help, they were able to create something which when viewed, came off as unique if nothing else. They were also able to secure DC Comics permission to film, something which they may not have been able to pull together in this day and age. It is certainly an amazing achievement to make something like this under the restrictions the team had. Look below to see a quote from Thomas Farr’s YouTube page just to see what they were up against.
Jeff Klein and I (Thomas Farr) produced Aquaman while attending film school at CSUN. Permission was granted by DC COMICS to make the film after we send our script to Jenette Kahn President of DC COMICS at that time. The film won several awards.
While I was attending a comic book convention in the 90’s, I came across our film inside the Super Hero video bins. It had been pirated and turned into a double feature with a WB pilot of Justice League of America. It was touted as a WB Pilot that was not picked up for series (which I found funny). Most of the crew have gone on to careers in the industry.
The Adam West Batman influence shows and is the driving force behind this show. Much like Batman, the reason The Cast of the Angler works so well is because Aquaman plays it so straight. Showing its influences even more, it goes so far as to have its own animated intro. You thought Batman was a campy classic? Well, Aquaman managed to fill a whole 20 minutes with camptastic events. The acting is either over-the-top or not there at all with Aquaman being quite a dullard throughout, but still managing to be strangely entertaining. Here we have an Aquaman who uses his fishy friends for more sinister purposes, the main sufferer being the starfish that Aquaman uses as a flying death star. You heard it right, this Aquaman does not take prisoners.
If this was not enough to keep you going the main villain of the piece is The Angler, a guy with a fishing hat and mask on his face (similar to The Weather Man in the awful yet amazing JLA TV movie) and needs a daily dose of potassium to keep him going. You read correctly, he is addicted to bananas and they pop up all over this little short. Why they did not attempt to use a more established baddie for this, like say Black Manta, I do not know. For this however, this new villain works perfectly. There is not much more plot than Aquaman going out find The Angler and he gets to kick his goons’ backsides before taking on the big guy himself. To say too much would spoil the fun of watching the events unravel but I will say that it is hilarious. Whether it was meant to be or hardly matters at all. It is a must see for fans of over-the-top superhero action.