Aquaman was the surprise hit of the DCEU, the now-defunct iteration of the DC cinematic universe. It made more than any other DCEU film, pulling in over $1.1 billion in 2018. Now, finally, the sequel is coming, just in time to not matter anymore. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom sees Jason Momoa returning—probably for the last time—as Arthur Curry, now the King of Atlantis.


The film is again directed by James Wan, and this time, Momoa has a story credit for his contributions developing the film. A big part of Aquaman’s charm is Momoa’s enthusiasm for playing the character, which is palpable again in the trailer for Lost Kingdom. The film finds Arthur a father, married to Mera, and being challenged by his nemesis, Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). It looks like everything is going to sh-t and Arthur is going to have to save himself and Atlantis (again). 

A couple things about this film. One is that earlier this year, The Hollywood Reporter alleged the film was undergoing extensive reshoots, never a good sign. Director James Wan, though, denies the reporting, but like…what else is he going to say? “Oh yeah, the film is an utter mess”? Hardly. The trailer, though, presents a cohesive tone and story. It could be a total misdirect, just a couple coherent minutes cut out of a much longer movie, but it’s encouraging that the trailer doesn’t read messy. There’s a lot going on—once again, we are inundated with cool underwater kaiju and crab monsters—but the plot is clear enough. Atlantis is under attack, Arthur is struggling with responsibility, he has to team up with his problematic brother. Got it.


The other thing is the lack of Amber Heard as Mera. Obviously, she’s been through a lot recently, but she said last year that her role in the sequel was a “very pared-down version”, the implication being that all the noise around her legal troubles with Johnny Depp resulted in the studio and/or James Wan reducing her presence in the film. Wan also denies this report, saying the second film “was always going to be Arthur and Orm”, referring to Patrick Wilson’s antagonistic character. Sure. But also, when given a chance to show literally ANY support for Amber Heard, Wan didn’t, which is its own kind of statement.


But the trailer does center on Arthur going to Orm—who is one of the better cinematic supervillains, he had a real point about humanity trashing the oceans—for help to fight Black Manta, so maybe that’s true. But I definitely don’t believe that the reshoots weren’t a big deal. Lost Kingdom suffered through too many regime changes at the top, there’s too much general floundering with the final DC films before James Gunn reboots the whole thing. Aquaman wasn’t a great movie, but it was surprisingly fun, but I’m not holding my breath for the sequel. I’ll settle for “not a disaster” at this point.


Attached - Jason Momoa at the Goodwood Revival at the Goodwood Motor Circuit on Sunday in West Sussex.