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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Plot, Cast, & Everything Else We Know

It’s almost time to head back to Atlantis. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, the sequel to the hit 2018 Jason Momoa-led DC film, was announced back in 2021, and fans were not surprised. The first Aquaman film was a massive box office hit, with a worldwide gross of more than $1.1 billion. Aquaman (2018) is the highest-grossing title in the DCEU and the only film to cross that elusive $1 billion mark.

Fans will recall that the first film told the story of Arthur Curry, who must defeat King Orm and reclaim his rightful place as Aquaman, King of Atlantis. With Momoa and director James Wan promising an even bigger adventure and scale for the sequel, could it potentially surpass the first?

Update September 19, 2023: In the wake of new information regarding Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, this article has been updated by Jessica Peerez with more recent developments.

The production of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom hasn’t been without its fair share of challenges. With release delays and controversy surrounding one of its stars, Mera actress Amber Heard, the film has had a rough road to its release. Concerns regarding yet another delay in the sequel’s release date also arose due to the current Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA strike. Although the strike has influenced the release decisions of many production companies, it appears that Warner Bros. Pictures is sticking to its end 2023 release date for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

Where will the sequel take our hero, and how will it build on what was established in the first movie? Who is returning to the cast, and what new faces will be joining them? When and where can audiences see the film when it is released? And what else should audiences know about Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom? Here’s everything we know about the latest Aquaman film!

Plot: What We Know

Arthur and Orm in Aquaman 2
Warner Bros. Pictures 

With the release date of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom brimming on the horizon, details regarding the plot are more widely known. The sequel will primarily focus on Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Black Manta as he sets out to seek revenge for the death of his father and destroy Arthur Cury, aka Aquaman, and his family. This new family includes a son with his wife, Mera. Using the Black Trident as his weapon, Black Manta appears ready to wage havoc in remembrance of his father.

The newly released trailer and other plot details of the film have also confirmed that despite the events of the previous movie, where Orm is imprisoned by Arthur after Arthur takes his rightful position as the King of Atlantis, the brothers form an alliance to stand against Black Manta.

The glimpse into the underwater world, thanks to the barely 3-minute trailer released, promises enough action and adventure. “One king will lead us all,” promises the trailer as Orm reassures his brother that he is “not as bad at this as you think”. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly regarding the relationship between the two brothers in the upcoming sequel, director James Wan said:

“I always pitched this to everyone from the get-go. The first Aquaman was Arthur and Mera’s journey. The second movie was always going to be Arthur and Orm. So, the first was a romance action-adventure movie, the second one is a bromance action-adventure movie.”

Cast: What We Know

Black Manta in Aquaman 2
Warner Bros. Pictures 

As mentioned previously, Jason Momoa is back in the titular role as Aquaman / Arthur Curry. Despite calls for another actress to replace her amidst the Heard-Depp controversy, Amber Heard will also be returning alongside Momoa as Mera, the underwater princess and Aquaman’s love interest.

Other actors who will be reprising their roles from the first film are Patrick Wilson as King Orm, Curry’s half-brother and the former king of Atlantis; Dolph Lundgren as King Nereus, the king of Xebel and father of Mera. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as pirate Black Manta, and Randall Park as biologist Dr. Stephen Shin. Arthur Curry’s parents, Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison) and Atlanna, Queen of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman), will also return.

Related: The Flash: Should DC Recast Ezra Miller and Move Forward?

In addition to the returning players, there will also be some new faces joining the cast. Jani Zhao will be playing a character named Stingray, who is original to the film. Indya Moore has been cast as Karshon, who originated as a villain in the Green Lantern series. Vincent Regan is playing Atlan, the ancient ruler of Atlantis, and the reason that the city first sunk into the sea. Game of Thrones star Pilou Asbæk is set for an unknown role, which will reunite him with his former GoT costar Momoa.

Aquaman 2: Other Details

Willem Dafoe in Aquaman
Warner Bros. Pictures

Despite many actors reprising their roles and joining the cast of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, there was one face who was notably absent from the lineup and trailer. Willem Dafoe, who portrayed the character of Nuidis Vulko, mentor, trainer, and guide to Arthur Curry, in the first Aquaman film, will not be returning for the sequel. Fans have gotten quite accustomed to seeing Dafoe take on the villain role, thanks to his Green Goblin days in Spider-Man. However, straying from his usual, Dafoe played one of the good guys in the 2018 Aquaman, training Arthur for his role as the rightful heir of the Atlantis throne on the instructions of Queen Atlanna.

Related: DC: Every Film from the DCEU and Snyderverse, Ranked by Box Office

Although fans were wondering if a sequel could go ahead without the character of Vulko, Wan has confirmed that the actor will not be present in the sequel owing to unavoidable scheduling differences. The director also said that in Dafoe’s absence, an avenue to expand on the roles of other characters was paved. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly on Dafoe’s absence from the sequel, Wan said:

“Willem is not in this one, no. Part of the reason was because his schedule did not work out for us. But what that allowed me to do was expand on Atlanna’s role. Atlanna in this one ultimately becomes Arthur’s advisor. Because Arthur’s not from this world, she helps him better understand the world and the politics of how things work.”

DC Status

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
Warner Bros.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is coming at an interesting time for the DCEU. While it was originally greenlit as just another installment in the franchise, many changes have happened behind the scenes. James Gunn and Peter Safran are now the heads of the new DC Studios and are looking to relaunch the franchise as the DCU. This will be a new franchise that will kick off in earnest with the release of films like Superman: Legacy and television shows like Creature Commandos. Yet where Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom fall into this new timeline is unclear.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom was released after The Flash, which was meant to restart the universe. Blue Beetle, which was released between the two films, was not the first DCU movie but the first character in the franchise. Aquaman and the Lost Kindom have undergone many reshoots to accommodate the changes. Both Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck filmed Batman cameos depending on where the film would be released in relation to The Flash, but now those cameo plans are scrapped. It is unclear if Momoa will continue as Aquaman in the new franchise or if they will start fresh. That could mean that Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is the final film in the DCEU franchise.

Release Date

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Jason Momoa
Warner Bros. Pictures

The film was first set for release on December 16, 2022, and was later shifted to March 17, 2023, due to COVID-induced delays. However, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is now scheduled to release on December 20, 2023. With no further delays in sight at the time of writing, fans can expect to celebrate Christmas with the adrenaline-inducing adventures of the King of Atlantis!

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