The Big Picture
- A canceled Aquaman spinoff movie, The Trench, which explored the world of Atlantis’ amphibious monsters, influenced the upcoming sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.
- Black Manta, previously a pirate, will become a dangerous antagonist armed with an ancient weapon, aiming to hurt Aquaman and seize the throne of Atlantis.
Back when Aquaman proved to be a big success for Warner Bros., the studio was focused on developing an entire franchise based on the world of Atlantis. One of the proposed ideas for expansion was The Trench, a spinoff focused on the place where the amphibious monsters from the first installment came from. Unfortunately, the studio canceled the movie before production could begin, meaning that whatever James Wan had planned for that portion of Aquaman’s world wouldn’t be seen by audiences. Collider’s Taylor Gates attended as special press preview of the trailer for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, where the director talked about how he integrated concepts from the canceled movie were integrated into the upcoming sequel:
We had developed the Trench movie, and ultimately, like most things, you develop — if they work out, great, if they don’t, then that’s fine as well. We didn’t want that project to potentially step on the Aquaman films, but we came up with a lot of really interesting ideas and really cool stuff that I felt we could use it in this one. And so with the Trench movie, it was going to be a secret Black Manta, right? Initially, we announced it as a Trench movie, but ultimately, we wanted to surprise the fans because that was going to be a stand-alone Black Manta movie. And so when that didn’t happen, some of those ideas kind of found its way into this there.
When Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) was introduced in the first Aquaman movie, David Kane was merely a pirate who happened to run into Aquaman (Jason Momoa) during one of his missions. But in The Lost Kingdom, the character will be a much more dangerous antagonist, taking the titular hero and his allies to the limit by using an ancient weapon hidden within the mysterious depths of the ocean. With new power under his command, Black Manta will do everything he can to hurt Aquaman and to get rid of him, leaving the throne of Atlantis vacant once more.
Aquaman already has plenty of experience with fighting against powerful villains who wish to kill him, including the time when he had to fight against his half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) for the right to be the King of Atlantis. The villain will be back in the sequel but, since he knows that he can’t win a fight against his half-brother, he’ll be an ally to the titular hero instead. After all, there can’t be a throne to fight over if the entire ocean is destroyed by Black Manta and the legendary weapon he will use to terrorize the sea.
The Future of DC Looks Bright
Arthur Curry has given his best effort to protect both land and sea during his time as a part of the DC Extended Universe, but the current iteration of the franchise might be coming to a close soon. James Gunn and Peter Safran are currently developing a new universe based around the popular characters from the comic books, starting with multiple television series and the Superman: Legacy movie that will be flying into theaters in the summer of 2025. It remains to be seen if Momoa will be able to portray the role moving forward, or if a new ruler of Atlantis will be cast in the future.
You can check out the official trailer for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom below, before the movie premieres in theaters on December 20: