James Wan confirmed that production of Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom, the sequel to the 2018 billion dollar blockbuster, has begun. Concurrent with this, its main stars Jason Momoa and Amber Heard are hard at work getting in fighting shape. Here is everything we know about the upcoming DCEU film so far!
Swimming with the sharks
The first Aquaman film was a surprise hit in 2018. With the mixed response to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and the Joss Whedon directed Justice League (2017), the DC Extended Universe was rarely a sure thing when it came to success.
However, the 2017 Wonder Woman film did quite well, so it was not totally without merit for Warner Bros. Pictures to continue its planned slate of solo films for the members of the Justice League, and in building their own cinematic universe to rival the Marvel juggernaut that was dominating the industry and public perception.
That said, Aquaman was a risky choice. The character had lounged on the sidelines, overshadowed by the more prominently known members of the Trinity (i.e. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman). The infamous prevailing perception, thanks to his portrayal in the Super-Friends cartoons as being useless when out of water and without marine life to command, did not help inspire confidence that Aquaman could work for the current generation of audiences.
However, the casting of Jason Momoa and the directorial vision of James Wan proved the naysayers wrong. The film made $940.7 million globally, which surpassed every other DCEU film from Man of Steel onwards. The response was overwhelmingly positive, as the story of Arthur Curry was told, from outcast child of Atlantis, to becoming the rightful ruler of the underwater kingdom. At the conclusion of the film, Arthur embraces his heritage by defeating his brother Orm, the Ocean Master (played by Patrick Wilson) and unites the kingdoms beneath the sea.
Fans admitted to being floored by smart dialogue, breakneck action and pacing, and the stunning visuals, presenting a never attempted and ambitious take on a live action version of Atlantis. Although some critics pegged the film as moving too fast, not knowing whether it was an Indiana Jones-style treasure hunt, a Star Wars under the sea, or a superhero movie, the first Aquaman film was a resounding and unexpected success.
Naturally, the studio execs immediately greenlighted a sequel film in order to continue expanding the exploits of the King of the Seven Seas. Moreover, there was talks of adding a spinoff film that centered on The Trench and the denizens of that darker, horror-like setting of the deep blue sea.
Shooting delays and current start
As with the rest of Hollywood, the Aquaman sequel had its fair share of delays thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps the biggest effect of the global pandemic is the shelving of the planned spinoff for The Trench. The lukewarm response to the Wonder Woman sequel Wonder Woman 1984 may have had a hand in the Warner Bros. decision to play it safe, even though the first Aquaman was an impressively successful outing.
Thankfully, the Aquaman film, now officially confirmed to have the title of Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom, was not as affected as other films. On social media, director James Wan shared a photo taken at the set of filming, signaling that the production and photography has begun for the anticipated superhero film:
Wan includes the following caption to his shared photo on Instagram:
Creepypuppet - Day One. #aquaman2
The photo on James Wan’s Instagram post reveals that they are currently shooting in a snow and ice covered location. Moreover, the photo has one of the production’s clappers curiously labeled as Necrus instead of the actual film title. This is a common practice so that filmmakers will be able to deflect rumors and leaks, though this has become less of a priority thanks to the penchant for leaks to appear online, despite a studio’s best efforts.
With the revelation of the location of at least one of the major settings in the film, one can assume the "Lost Kingdom" referred to in the film’s title is going to be buried in the arctic cold, or perhaps populated by a race that adapted to the cold in the same way the Atlanteans were able to evolve to be able to breathe underwater and communicate telepathically.
This lost kingdom will complete the seven, along with the six kingdoms referred to in the previous film: Atlantis, Mera’s kingdom of Xebel, the Kingdom of the Trench, the Kingdom of the Brine (which consisted of the crab-like Brine race), the Kingdom of the Fishermen, and the Kingdom of the Deserters.
Water powered workouts
Aside from the director’s sharing of the set photo, Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom, the film’s main lead stars, Jason Momoa and Amber Heard have also shared videos of their workouts. Getting in shape for the superhero genre can be a grueling endeavor, especially if one will be doing some stunts on their own.
— The Aquaverse 🔱 (@AquamanUniverse) June 29, 2021
Momoa is already famous for his muscular physique even during his Baywatch days. With the Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom, he appears to be training even harder. The video of the actor with his trainer indicates Momoa will be even more chiseled, training his traps, shoulders, and biceps.
Meanwhile, Amber Heard is getting in shape on her own as well. The actress is seen in various exercise circuits with the use of light dumbbells and large exercise balls.
— Amber Heard (@realamberheard) June 25, 2021
Speaking of Amber Heard
It is worth mentioning that Heard’s controversial breakup with actor Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean, Fantastic Beasts) has caused a rift among fans. Notably, there are calls for removing the actress from the Aquaman project and even a vocal group that are declaring a boycott of the Aquaman sequel if Heard remains in her role of Mera. However, the studio and production has not been perturbed by the controversy and Heard remains one of the main cast as the film moves forward.
Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom stars Jason Momoa (Arthur Curry/Aquaman), Patrick Wilson (Orm Marius/Ocean Master), Amber Heard (Mera), Dolph Lundgren (King Nereus), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (David Kane/Black Manta). Directed by James Wan, the DCEU superhero film is targeted for a December 16, 2022 release date.