Despite delays, and a couple of fun horror excursions, James Wan is back helming the king of Atlantis in a brand new film.
Aquaman was one of DC’s more successful films with audiences and critics, mixing big action with a fun, adventure tone and the occasional jump scare to remind us Wan is also a great horror filmmaker.
Read more: Every upcoming DC movie
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom appears to be the final DCEU film before the new slate of the DCU comes into play, so here is everything you need to know about the sequel.
How to watch Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will debut for purchase and rental digitally at home on 5 February, 2024.
Then on 18 March, the film will be available to own on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD from online and physical retailers.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom arrived in UK cinemas on Thursday, 21 December, hoping to get into people’s hearts over the Christmas holidays.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom reviews
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom has finally surfaced in cinemas but will it make waves or is the DCEU's final film dead in the water? Having experienced many delays and lots of on and off-set turmoil, fans were eager to see how DC's current cinematic offering would end.
Well, as it turns out, it might be a case of 'be careful what you wish for'.
The Telegraph certainly didn't hold back, calling James Wan's sequel 'the most numbingly moronic film of 2023', with critic Robbie Collin adding: "Some films are so stupid you can swear individual brain cells are dying as you watch them. Then there is Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, during which it felt like entire clumps of grey matter were giving up the gig in disgust and abseiling out of my ears."
Meanwhile, The Independent said: "The Lost Kingdom speaks too fluently to [the DCEU's] failures to not feel like a damning indictment on its legacy," with Digital Spy reminding readers that "the sequel caps a dire 2023 for DC movies" following the lacklustre performances of Shazam! Fury of the Gods and Blue Beetle.
Read more reviews below:
The Telegraph: The most numbingly moronic film of 2023 (3-min read)
The Independent: Brainless finale to DC’s universe is a damning indictment on its legacy (3-min read)
Digital Spy: Aquaman 2 is a fittingly messy end to the DCEU (5-min read)
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom trailer
There have been a few Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom released, with the most recent coming in November. Watch it below.
"I'm gonna kill Aquaman and destroy everything he holds dear..." fumes Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's Black Manta in the first full trailer for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and it sounds like he means business.
DC fans finally got to dip their toes into Wan's Aquaman sequel in mid-September when the studio dropped its debut trailer.
In it, we find Mamoa's Arthur Curry settling into his new life — one that has finally been given purpose since he embraced his destiny as the new king of Atlantis. However, as with most comic book utopias, peace times don't last too long and before long, a new evil emerges — one that'll force Curry to reunite with old enemies in order to beat.
Watch the first trailer for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom below:
Before it arrived, a teaser trailer for the trailer was revealed on Monday, 11 September which showed brief glimpses of the war that will break out over the course of the superhero movie.
Watch the teaser trailer below:
During Las Vegas' CinemaCon in late April 2023, attendees were treated to the debut airing of the film's first footage. In the debut trailer, reports suggest we see Momoa's Arthur Curry juggling dual lives as a father on land and royalty under the sea.
While Heard's Mera is apparently only seen in fleeting glimpses, some sites have theorised that her character may perish early on, forcing Curry to join forces with his half-brother Orm (Wilson), to face a new foe who has gained control of the Black Trident, Black Manta (Abdul-Mateen II).
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom cast
Aquaman’s sequel would feel empty without Aquaman so luckily Jason Momoa is back as half-human, half-Atlantean Arthur Curry, the king of Atlantis.
Also returning from the first film is Amber Heard as Xebel kingdom Princess — and love interest — Mera.
Also returning is Willem Dafoe as royal vizier Nuidis Vulko, Patrick Wilson as Curry’s half-brother and enemy Orm Marius.
Dolph Lundgren returns as Xebel king Nereus, Mera’s father, while Abdul-Mateen II returns as pirate enemy David Kane who adopts an armoured suit making him the Black Manta.
Temuera Morrison and Nicole Kidman reprise their roles as Arthur’s parents Thomas and Atlanna respectively, while Randall Park is back as Atlantis obsessive science Dr Stephen Shin.
Pilou Asbæk is Kordax, while Vincent Regan is Atlan, the first king of Atlantis.
Indya Moore portrayed Karshon, and Jani Zhao played Stingray.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom plot
The official synopsis for Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom explains: "Having failed to defeat Aquaman the first time, Black Manta, still driven by the need to avenge his father’s death, will stop at nothing to take Aquaman down once and for all.
"This time Black Manta is more formidable than ever before, wielding the power of the mythic Black Trident, which unleashes an ancient and malevolent force. To defeat him, Aquaman will turn to his imprisoned brother Orm, the former King of Atlantis, to forge an unlikely alliance. Together, they must set aside their differences in order to protect their kingdom and save Aquaman’s family, and the world, from irreversible destruction."
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom's journey to screen
As referenced in The Hollywood Reporter, Wan’s Aquaman sequel will be the only DC movie to have endured three different power changes at Warner Bros. The article also confirmed that a new batch of reshoots had taken place in New Zealand during mid-June that involved Momoa and Wilson. This marks the film’s third return in front of the camera to capture more scenes.
According to the same sources, multiple uninspiring test screenings were to blame for these new reshoots, with clarity surrounding the film's core storyline emerging as particular sticking points.
The presence of Batman was also a key area of focus. Originally, Michael Keaton’s Dark Knight was reportedly due to play a role “akin to Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury in the Marvel movies,” popping up in the since-shelved Batgirl alongside an appearance in Aquaman 2.
Release date shifts messed this up slightly, as The Lost Kingdom was originally due to arrive before The Flash, which also included the big return of Keaton’s Bruce Wayne. To fix this issue, previous Warners bosses Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy invited Ben Affleck’s Batman to replace Keaton but now that The Lost Kingdom will definitely be released after The Flash, it is believed that that scene has since been ditched too.
The Hollywood Reporter claims this decision was made by new DCEU bosses James Gunn and Peter Safran who “do not want to promise a movie universe that will not come to fruition, nor tie it down excessively to past failures.”
According to an anonymous source, it’s all “pretty chaotic.”
Despite all this, Warner Bros.' dedication to dishing out even more reshoots could suggest they have a lot of faith in the movie, with Wan apparently completing his five days of freshly allotted reshoots in just four.
Speaking of Wan, he also teased a bit more about the film’s plot by saying: “This movie has something to talk about [climate change], but it’s still a fun action-fantasy movie.”
Despite this semi-positivity surrounding the film, a new article that washed ashore from Variety in early October detailed a litany of production chaos including drunk stars, “hostile” vibes and even a shouty letter from Elon Musk.
According to the outlet, Momoa allegedly showed up to the set intoxicated while dressed as Depp, presumably to provoke Heard and add pressure to remove her from the project. Since these allegations have surfaced, DC spokespeople have denied them and claimed otherwise - but the trouble with Wan’s movie doesn’t seem to have stopped there.
In addition to Heard’s claims that Wan was unsupportive of her during production, Variety also claimed that the star was in fact very nearly dropped from the sequel by Warner Bros. - but due to a lack of chemistry with its leading man and not for any other external circumstances.
The article suggested that this didn’t go ahead due to a “scorched Earth” letter by Heard’s ex-partner Musk.
As per Variety: “Ultimately, the studio never pulled the trigger on firing Heard because her former boyfriend, Elon Musk, had one of his litigators send a “scorched-earth letter to Warner Bros. threatening to burn the house down” if the actress wasn’t brought back for a sequel, says a source familiar with the behind-the-scenes battle.”
The article went on to suggest that Momoa might survive the transition from the old DC movie-verse to James Gunn’s currently-in-the-works DC Extended Universe — just not as Aquaman.
According to Variety’s sources, Gunn is eyeing him to play alien bounty hunter Lobo instead.
Responding to these claims, Wan told Empire that many of the stories related to the follow-up's reshoots had largely been blown out of proportion, explaining that the headlines didn't quite match the vibe that he cultivated on set.
“We probably did seven or eight days [of reshoots], which is nothing for a movie of this size,” he told the outlet. “It was just spread out because it’s so hard to get your actors back once you’ve finished the initial shoot.”
He also expressed his frustration at having one of his projects pulled into an online drama that he has little control over. “I’m a pretty private person,” he reasoned. “I don’t get on social media and have fights, but it’s difficult because this narrative has emerged that is not the reality. The noise is fun to write about, and it gets clicks, but people don’t know the truth.”
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will be available to rent or buy digitally from 5 February, and on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD from 18 March.