Warner Bros. is ramping up the publicity campaign for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom even before the full trailer releases. Entertainment Weekly has a big article about DC’s next superhero film, the final one in the DCEU (I think; if anyone can make heads or tails of what’s going on with DC, they should be solving crimes), featuring exclusive photos and new information on the plot and development of the movie. You can see the pics, again courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, throughout this piece.
As for the film, producer Peter Safran describes Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom as a buddy cop movie in the vein of 48 Hrs. (the second superhero flick to be compared to that incredible film in the past few days). This time, Aquaman has to team up with his brother Orm – the main villain of the previous movie, played by Patrick Wilson – to take on Black Manta. Safran also says the sequel will have “a humor… that is far greater than even existed in the first.” That’s interesting because it’s something Nia DaCosta said recently about The Marvels as a way of differentiating it from other superhero movies; is the genre really leaning into “Finally, these movies are going to be funny”?
Elsewhere, production designer Bill Brzeski likens it to Ray Harryhausen’s classic fantasy adventure film, saying, “There are problems and issues a modern audience could relate to, but it’s got a great quest and monsters.” (If you don’t know the name, Harryhausen was the king of stop-motion animation, working on movies like Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans, and Mysterious Island.) I like the sound of that; as I said about the teaser from a couple of days ago, leaning into the adventure is the right way to sell this film.
Director James Wan, meanwhile – in addition to confirming the Harryhausen comparisons – speaks about the difficult production Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom turned out to be (though not in so many words). The extensive reshoots were at least partly because they didn’t know whether this film would hit theaters before The Flash – in other words, they didn’t know which actor would be Batman, if Batman indeed appears, which Wan will not confirm or deny. He does say this movie “is not connected in any way to any of those films,” which I imagine he said frantically with his arms flailing now that people have seen The Flash.
The elephant in the room, of course, is Amber Heard, who has not been in any of the promotional material so far (notice she isn’t in any of these images) and whose part in the film is said to have been whittled down to nothing. Wan insists this was always the plan, with the relationship between Aquaman and Orm taking the spotlight after the romance between him and Heard’s Mera in the first: “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. We’ll leave it at that.” I don’t believe that; I think they were faced with the notion of having one of the most hated people on Earth being second-billed on their huge movie, so they reworked it as much as possible. If they stick with this party line, though, we may never see Mera’s cut scenes, even on DVD or Blu-ray.
As for where Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom stands in terms of Safran and James Gunn’s DCU, EW posits that maybe it could continue as an Elseworlds series. Wan is evasive, saying he’s just focused on this one right now. We all know what that means.
Thanks again to Entertainment Weekly for the images!