Deep dive: 12 things you need to know about Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

We’ve got a sinking feeling that this might be the last time we see Jason Momoa as DC’s Aquaman—so the sequel to his 2018 blockbuster origin story had better live up to fanboy expectations.

The movie has stayed afloat above casting controversies, multiple rounds of reshoots, and a general sense of superhero fatigue. Will Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom be a fine farewell, or a soggy flop? Read our guide to everything we know about the upcoming movie and decide for yourself.

1. It’s the 15th and final instalment in the DCEU

The DC Extended Universe is dead: long live the DC Extended Universe. Despite being the ninth highest-grossing film franchise of all time, DC’s run of 12 juggernaut superhero movies comes to an end with the appointment of new head honchos James Gunn and Peter Safran. While we’re looking forward to their refreshed slate of “DCU” titles which kicks off with 2025’s Superman: Legacy, the Justice League and Aquaman movies featuring Momoa’s fishy fighter will be but a distant “rough memory” within the new cinematic universe to come. RIP, super-team.

2. Jason Momoa is sad about saying goodbye…but he might not be done with DC

“I don’t necessarily want it to be the end”, the Dune and Game of Thrones actor told ET of Aquaman’s likely conclusion: “but right now I’m like, it’s not looking too good.” Then again, DC’s comic book canon of heroes, villains, and tightly-suited freaks is a vast ensemble, with plenty of other characters that Momoa could get cast as.

There have already been rumours that Momoa might play alien bounty hunter Lobo in Gunn and Safran’s reinvigorated DCU, and the bulky actor is totally down to clown. “I was a big Lobo fan growing up”, he revealed: “if there’s a place in their world for me, I would love to be a part of it. This is my home. Warner and DC is definitely my home. So that’s all I’ll say.”

3. Aquaman is now a dad! Meet Arthur Jr.

This is scary news for comic book heads. In the above trailer for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Jason Momoa a.k.a. Aquaman a.k.a. Arthur Curry has a lot on his plate; a new baby named Arthur Jr. and a new “job…I’m the King of Atlantis.” Unfortunately, the son of Aquaman and sea princess Mera has a pretty bleak history in the original DC comics, getting killed off by supervillain Black Manta. Eep.

We really can’t see this happening in James Wan’s super-sequel, so hopefully bb Aquaman is sidelined for most of the action, merely providing some cutesy slice-of-life dad moments in the movie’s establishing scenes. Fingers crossed.

4. It’s a buddy-comedy, featuring Aquaman’s half-brother Orm

Patrick Wilson’s Ocean Master was practically the villain of the first Aquaman film, but the upcoming sequel sees him released from prison (and looking pretty damn beardy and emaciated at that) to work with his loathed half-bro Aquaman. “Good job, lil brother!”, Arthur cheers at Wilson’s Orm in the film’s trailer—getting a sneered “do not call me brother” back in response.

By the end of the trailer, though, Orm is telling Aquaman that he’s not as bad at this underwater superhero nonsense as he might think. Tasked with working together for once, the estranged half-siblings have a real Shrek/Donkey vibe going on, with Aquaman as the perky go-getter and Orm as his reluctant, grouchy sidekick.

5. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is Black Manta, a more formidable villain than ever

“During King Atlan’s time, there were seven kingdoms”, we’re sagely informed by the Aquaman 2 trailer: “and the trident was a curse upon them all.” Sounds kinda LOTR-y to us. The one to wield this dark magic knick-knack is Candyman star Abdul-Mateen II’s bad guy Black Manta, who still totally hates Aquaman after the death of his dad back in the first film. “I’m gonna kill Aquaman and destroy everything he holds dear”, the helmeted hater announces: “I’m gonna murder his family and burn his kingdom to ash.” How does one burn down an underwater kingdom? We’ll have to wait and see.

6. Director James Wan says it’s “goofier” than the first film

Speaking to Collider, horror director James Wan explained that a major dilemma in adapting DC’s Aquaman stories lay in the text’s sheer silliness. “One of the things we did on the first one that I wasn’t quite necessarily sure [about] was just how much we were willing to lean into the more absurd aspect of the Aquaman comic”, Wan revealed. This time around, he’s taken the goofpill, claiming to fully “embrace” the ridiculous side of the fantastical superpowered character.

If you’re more of a Saw or Malignant fan, however, Wan has also revealed that some of his horror influences will creep into the new film, including a sequence with eerie “underwater zombies”. Something for everyone!

7. Amber Heard’s return as Mera was, of course, hugely controversial

You don’t really need us to explain this bit, do you? Go read Luke Buckmaster’s review of the Netflix docuseries covering Amber Heard and Johnny Depp’s whole sordid courtroom spectacle. After Heard’s defamation trial, 4 million angry Depp fans signed a petition to have the actress removed from her role as Aquaman’s love interested Mera, but Safran and DC Films president Walter Hamada both stated that her character would not be recast or removed from the sequel for any “pure fan pressure”.

Despite this, there’s exactly one shot of Heard, punching her way through a glass porthole, in the Aquaman 2 trailer above. It seems like even being THE Aquaman’s wife, and the mother of his newborn child at that, isn’t enough to uncancel someone from the court of public opinion.

8. Willem Dafoe won’t be returning—so we’re getting more of Nicole Kidman

Despite appearing as a pretty important mentor to Aquaman in the 2018 film, Dafoe’s vizier Vulko has sunk to the depths of the cutting room floor for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Apparently an excised scene would reveal that Vulko died offscreen of a mysterious underwater virus (too soon for audiences still reeling from COVID?). Instead, Aquaman’s mum Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) will take over as our hero’s primary guide to his underwater kingdom.

9. Temuera Morrison and Dolph Lundgren are back as Aquaman’s dad and father-in-law

Keeping the family connection going, both of Aquaman’s dads—human and otherwise—are returning for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Aotearoa acting legend Tem Morrison is back as Arthur’s landlubbing dad Tom, who looks like a proud-as-punch granddad in the film’s trailer, and action movie heavyweight Dolph Lundgren is Mera’s father Nereus once more. Oddly enough, Lundgren was actually a Swedish Marine IRL, so he’s got plenty of experience doing battle below the waves. That’s what Marines do, right?

10. The tech for shooting ‘underwater’ scenes has improved since the first film

The newest Aquaman movie takes advantage of a 360-degree set-up with over 100 cameras to make its aquatic action scenes look more believable than ever before. Director Wan complained that this complex aspect of production was “a very painful experience” for the first film’s actors, “because they’re kind of not focusing as much on their performances because they’re in such uncomfortable rigs.” Apparently the advanced technology used in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom has made directing, acting, and shooting far easier for the whole hardworking production to deal with.

11. Hmmm: the movie went through a wild number of reshoots…

This Vulture article on the spliced-and-re-spliced Aquaman sequel is a fascinating read. “The sequel to 2018’s Aquaman has reportedly gone through three rounds of reshoots, something The Hollywood Reporter calls “almost an unprecedented number'”, the piece reports, claiming that a cameo from Michael Keaton’s Batman got chopped out somewhere along the line. James Wan has since downplayed the extensive reshoot process (“it’s actually not that many numbers of days at all”), but we still reckon it’d be pretty hectic to return time and time again to the VFX mines of your superhero’s next movie, while his whole cinematic universe is getting destroyed and rebuilt around you.

12. At the very least, the cast seemed to have fun at the premiere?

All this cinematic universe havoc, casting drama, and laborious underwater action shooting hasn’t dimmed Momoa and Wilson’s need to boogie. The below TikTok from Momoa’s own account shows both half-brothers grooving with Aquaman’s trident in celebration of the new release.


🔱 Brothers 🔱

♬ Benjamins Deli – JRitt

Will you be cutting some shapes under the sea with Aquaman, Orm, and all their fishy friends come Boxing Day? Tickets to Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom are available right now: hold your breath and take one final dive into the DCEU as we once knew it.