Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom Trailer Breakdown: 6 Things We Learned From The DC Movie Teaser
The first full trailer for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is here, and it looks just as colorful and ridiculous as the first movie did. That's a very good thing, considering how DC Studios has been in rough shape after a string of box office bombs--they need Aquaman 2 to succeed in a big way.
The broad strokes of the plot are almost certainly what you would expect based on how director James Wan and co. have talked about the movie for years. Black Manta, a sort of sub-villain from the first movie with an intense personal vendetta against Aquaman after Aquaman killed his pirate dad, is bringing the heat against Atlantis. And Aquaman is going to have to team up with his half-brother Orm, who was the bad guy in the first movie, to figure out how to deal with whatever Black Manta has planned.
Despite the bad year DC has had thus far, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom actually still has pretty great box office prospects--the first movie was a big hit despite coming a year after Justice League nearly tanked the entire franchise on its own. Things were at least as dire for DC then as they seem now, but Aquaman weathered that storm easily thanks to a December release date without any major franchise competition.
Aquaman 2 arrives in a similarly friendly environment when it hits theaters on December 20--its competition during the biggest moviegoing week of the year is the remake of The Color Purple, Timothee Chalamet's Willy Wonka movie, and the DreamWorks animated movie Migration.
While we wait for our chance to check out what looks like another visual feast from James Wan, let's go through the details in this trailer and see what we can learn.
1. They're still hiding the core plot of the movie
There's a lot of rhetoric in this trailer about Black Manta being much more powerful thanks to his new magic trident, and how he's doing something that could cause a "global meltdown." But there isn't any info whatsoever about what his plan actually is or even what the titular lost kingdom is.
During a press Q&A on Wednesday, Wan said that Manta essentially "stumbled upon" the Lost Kingdom while trying to repair his suit that Aquaman tore up in the last movie--that's more detail than we got from the trailer, but not meaningfully so. We haven't yet been told what Manta is doing or how it might destroy the world. But we have a guess.
2. Black Manta has probably gotten into King Atlan's stash
The Black Trident that Manta is wielding in the trailer is the source of his newfound power, but this is not a known DC Comics item. What it likely is, then, is an original item based on one or more of the ancient Atlantean King Atlan's old magic weapons.
While the trident that Aquaman retrieved from the center of the Earth in the first movie was Atlan's main trident, in the comics he also had seven other magical items/weapons that he kept hidden. One of these is a scepter powerful enough to sink a continent, which also allows the wielder to command the creatures of the Trench; another is an orb that allows the user to teleport; and another is a helmet that lets the wearer live without food, air, or water.
This Black Trident is likely an original item that draws on that lore while ultimately being a whole new thing tailored for this story. King Atlan, by the way, is not a good guy. In the comics he comes back to life in the present and wars against Aquaman--he could be helping Manta.
3. Mera really doesn't seem to be in it much
Amber Heard's drawn-out, real-world legal battles with her ex-husband Johnny Depp have made for a pretty tough PR situation for the actress, and it's been speculated that she was sidelined a bit in Aquaman 2 because of it, after being the main character whose name wasn't in the title last time. Wan has denied that that was the reason for it, but regardless of the explanation, it seems pretty clear that she has been sidelined--she's only visible in the trailer in two shots, she has no lines, and is never directly referenced. She's the queen of Atlantis, so that's a bit weird under the circumstance. Unless...
4. Expect a major death or two
In the trailer we get to hear Black Manta declare his intent to murder Aquaman's family, and we also see Aquaman's dad's house burn down. That pretty clearly puts ole Tom Curry in the crosshairs, and Mera herself seems like a likely target and potential victim given how little she seems to be participating in this story. I would be very surprised if Aquaman came out the other side of this movie with the same number of family members he had at the start.
5. It's still not taking itself too seriously
Wan promised a darker second film at the film's press event this week, but it's clearly not going to be that serious. One scene in the trailer shows Aquaman throw his body against the base of a gigantic statue like he's Bugs Bunny, which knocks the statue over a large canyon to form a bridge to the other side. It's an incredibly stupid moment, but it's also awesome.
6. The retro vibes are pervasive
At our Q&A, Wan described how he drew on the aesthetics of Ray Harryhausen, Jules Verne, and "1960s Silver Age Aquaman" for the designs in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and you can see those vibes all over the place--such as with Black Manta's henchmen sporting old-timey deep sea diving gear in the image above, and his creepy new hammerhead submarine. Those designs look so perfect within the aesthetic that Wan and his team have established for these two movies that it would be easy to simply not even consciously notice them. I'd bet you a dollar that this aspect of the film ends up being one of my favorite things about it.