Arts and Culture

Top five shark-related pop-culture references, in honor of Megalodon

A new exhibit is opening at the Wildlife Experience Museum tomorrow: Megalodon: The Largest Shark That Ever Lived. The exhibit includes a life-sized replica of megalodon (pictured above) and comparisons with other sharks we think of as scary-big, like the Great White, along with explanations of what might have caused megalodon's extinction and how shark specimens helped unlock some of the giant's mystery.

In honor of this giant-ass shark visiting our fair state, here -- in no particular order -- are five of our favorite shark-related pop-culture references we could find (Jaws not included -- too easy):

5. Shark Tale This Will Smith/Jack Black vehicle hits the bottom of our list for several reasons: The horrible puns about "Great White lies" in the promotional materials; the fact that the main character is a bluestreak cleaner wrasse named Oscar (not a shark) and the main shark character (voiced by Jack Black) is a vegetarian; the portrayal of sharks as Mafiosos. We're sure it teaches kids some great lessons, etc. etc., but as you'll see, we're more interested in sharks as ginormous sets of teeth than sharks as best-friends-forever. 4. Overbite We know that the Seacon Targetmasters (the Transformer subset to which Overbite belongs) were released too late as toys in the U.S. to make it to the animated screen, but we're still a bit puzzled as to why this character, at least, didn't make it into the recent film adaptations: If there's one thing you wouldn't think Michael Bay would be able to resist, it's a goddamn shark Transformer. And not just any shark Transformer: A shark Transformer with legs and claws. Someone tell the Autobots it's over, already. The Decepticons have already won when a shark-slash-machine is the thing that's guarding their below-water island headquarters. 3. The faked shark/helicopter photograph Yeah, we know this photo is a fake. (See above.) But it gets a mention because if you go up to a stranger in the street and say "shark helicopter," they'll probably respond, "Hey, I've seen that picture!" 2. Dinoshark Leave it to a network like SyFy to come up with something this ridiculous. A follow-up to Dinocroc, the plot involves a baby dinoshark that was released from an Arctic glacier due to global warming. It grows to adulthood and starts eating people off Puerto Vallarta. The film is awesomely bad -- and probably the closest thing to an actual megalodon in pop culture, except for ... 1. Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus Mega Shark is supposed to actually be megalodon (although -- and we hate to disappoint you -- Mega Shark is way, way bigger than megalodon). This film stars Debbie Gibson (yes, really) as an oceanographer who happens to be on-scene when military helicopters drop sonar transmitters into the ocean off the coast of Alaska, causing a pod of whales to go postal and start ramming themselves into a nearby glacier. Somehow, one of the helicopters crashes into the glacier and -- guess what? -- a giant shark and giant octopus who were both frozen in the glacier are freed to wreak havoc on humanity and each other. (Note to humankind: STOP BREAKING THE GLACIERS.) This is an Asylum flick, so it's not exactly A-list, but, hey, Mega Shark can jump miles into the air to take down a commercial airliner. And he's in a battle to the death with Giant Octopus. What more do you really want from megalodon?!

The Megalodon exhibit runs through January 2, 2012 at the Wildlife Experience Museum. Call 720-488-3300 for information.

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Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen