James Wan’s Aquaman is the only DCEU film to gross more than a billion dollars worldwide. And also, It rules for many reasons — Atlantians riding sharks and seahorses, spooky creatures in the deep, crab people! There’s a fun factor that Shazam! also touched on, but in Aquaman, face-melting special effects ornament almost every shot. The introduction to Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) establishes the ‘80s action camp viewers can expect from the rest of the picture.
As a complete homage to action movies of the 1980s, Aquaman includes a hunk, one-liners, and action with punctuation. The movie takes place shortly after Justice League and sees Arthur struggling to accept his responsibilities to both Atlantis, and the terrestrial people of Earth. He acts as a defender of the ocean until destiny calls on his intervention in the Atlantian royal affairs after his half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) orchestrates a conflict with the surface.
The story is similar to DC’s new 52 animated feature, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis from 2015, but Aquaman updates it with its own style and panache. DC hasn’t rushed the creative team on a sequel, opting for quality over quantity after a hurried effort to assemble their roster of heroes on screen resulted in middling reviews and reception. Last year, Wan started teasing his vision for the upcoming Aquaman sequel, Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom. Here’s your one-stop-shop for everything there is to know about Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom.
When Is the Release Date?
Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom is set to release on December 25, 2023, bookended between the DC films The Flash, on November 4, 2022, and Shazam! Fury of the Gods, on March 17, 2023. All three movies are helmed by acclaimed horror directors — James Wan (The Conjuring), Andy Muschietti (It), and David F. Sandberg (Lights Out), respectively.
Who are the Confirmed Characters in ‘Aquaman 2’?
Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman, returns as the King of Atlantis. Momoa took to his Instagram account to announce he’d be bleaching/highlighting his hair again a day before his first day of shooting would begin in London. More recently, Khal Curry dropped a first look at a new suit for the new picture.
Viewers can swipe between the gaudy, ornate gold and green armor salvaged at the end of Aquaman, and the new, sleeker, darker stealth suit. Wan stated that the suite is, “Atlantian tech based on cephalopods camouflaging ability”. In addition to the more muted color scheme, the suite is less beveled, and it lacks gauntlets and fins on the boots. During an interview on The Drew Barrymore Show in May 2021, Jason Momoa revealed he aided in writing at least some form of the draft that Wan and writer David Leslie Johnson–McGoldrick would go on to polish and finish. Momoa stated he felt “100% encouraged,” by his co-writers and director, and went on to say “all our hearts are in it.”
Amber as Mera
Amber Heard is returning as Mera, the water-bending Atlantian. Despite high-profile courtroom and tabloid drama, Heard reprised her role during additional photography for the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League and is again assuming the role for Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom. She posted a photo of her doing suspended push-ups and a video snippet of her twirling a staff in preparation for this super-hero flick.
Yahya As Black Manta
Yahya Abdul–Mateen II is returning as Aquaman’s human nemesis, Black Manta. He shared posts pertaining to his training for his return, and his excitement for the sequel is clear. In an interview with THR he’s quoted as saying, “In Aquaman, we just got a small introduction to Black Manta and to some of his motivations. In this one, I get to exercise and breathe a little bit more. I’m showing some different colors with this one,” and, “It gives the actors a lot of good storytelling moments.”
Patrick Wilson’s Orm is returning too. Wilson posted a sweat silhouette snapped back in April. Aquaman isn’t the only one with a new look as James Wan offered a first look at Orm–looking like a buff Cast Away more than an Ocean Master — toned, tan, and surprisingly on land.
Dolph Lundgren as King Nereus of Xebel, one of the Seven Kingdoms of Atlantis, and Temuera Morrison as Arthur’s human father are both returning as well.
When Does ‘Aquaman 2’ Take Place?
With WB’s new approach to less connected, more specific, and isolated stories in its DC Comics universe, it’s unclear where in the greater canon Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom will take place. Based on the cast and details released so far, it’s clearly not a prequel and will deal with the events of the first Aquaman, but how it relates to the upcoming Flash, Shazam, and The Batman movies remains to be seen.
What Is the Plot of ‘Aquaman 2’?
At the DC FanDome panel in August 2020, Wan stated, “The second one is a little bit more serious, a little more relevant to the world we’re living in today. That’s where it wants to go.”
Hints of a revised tone sent waves of trepidation through the hearts of fans who adore the movie for its cheesy fun. But Wan’s refusal to move forward until the script and story were right should instill steadfast confidence. In an August 2021 interview, Wan opened up slightly more on the decision to tread a darker path for the sequel.
“Well, the first movie took a lot of people by surprise, right? And that’s partially because they were not familiar with the comic book, which deals in this very lurid, strange world…People were taken aback that I didn’t throw all that stuff away and make a dark, heavy film. But I didn’t feel that would have been right for it. So, with the second film, I feel it will be easier for people to accept where we go because I’ve already laid the foundation.”
The director also offered insight into his inspirations for the film, noting the 1965 Italian horror film Planet of the Vampires. The campy, sci-fi scary movie sees a spaceship crew battling one another on a foreign planet as their minds and bodies are taken over by disembodied beings. Fresh off the development and release of Malignant, Wan’s Giallo-inspired slasher that Collider’s review called bonkers in the best way, it’s safe to say some of that inspiration rolled over into the dark and mysterious oceans of the DCEU.
Wan has also posted hints specifically pertaining to the lost kingdom of Atlantis known as Necrus. In the comic, Necrus is a vanishing city, foiled against Atlantis. It disappears and reappears in different spots through the wonder of technology.
Amber Heard Denies ‘Aquaman 2’ Recasting Rumors
Despite various earlier reports, Heard has not been cut from Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom and her role as Mera is not being recast in the upcoming sequel. Heard’s team has quickly come out to deny those reports.
the head of DC Films Walter Hamada said that WB had previously considered recasting the actress in the past and Heard herself was unsure if she was going to make the final cut of the film. Just Jared, which initially said Heard was being recast, claimed to have an inside source that stated, “Warner Bros. decided to recast Amber Heard’s role after screencasting the movie. They are going to be doing reshoots with Jason Momoa and Nicole Kidman.” However, as Heard’s spokesperson said, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Aquaman 2 is currently set for a March 17, 2023 release and is deep into post-production. That’s why it felt odd that WB would recast Heard this late in the game. The James Wan film is completely shot and has already been delayed once. It was supposed to release this December before moving to March of next year to help smooth the post-production crunch. Even if Heard was to be recast it wouldn’t be something as simple as replacing a few dialogue scenes. Like Aquaman himself, there is a lot of rigging/wire work done with the character. Underwater battles are a key part of the franchise, and Mera was involved with almost all the big action set pieces the first time around.