Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom has experienced several challenges leading to its release. However, Amber Heard and the bad press surrounding the defamation trial with her ex-husband Johnny Depp has cast the biggest shadow over Aquaman 2. Although the actress claimed that her role as Mera had been pared down as a result, she is still a prominent character in the movie.
Addressing Amber Heard’s comments about her role in Aquaman 2, James Wan told Entertainment Weekly that the focus of the film was always going to be the relationship between Arthur and Orm and not Arthur and Mera. “I always pitched this to everyone from the get-go,” he explained. The first Aquaman was Arthur and Mera’s journey. The second movie was always going to be Arthur and Orm.”
Despite her absence from the teaser trailer, Amber Heard is still featured in Aquaman 2.
“So, the first was a romance action-adventure movie, the second one is a bromance action-adventure movie. We’ll leave it at that,” Wan added about Amber Heard’s role in Aquaman 2. For months, there has been uncertainty about the project since the studio chose not to promote the film ahead of its December 20 release date.
Some even wondered if, due to Amber Heard’s legal issues and James Gunn’s efforts to reboot the DC Universe, Aquaman 2 might get canceled. While Wan is aware of the changes, he says it hasn’t affected the movie. “Obviously, I have to be mindful,” he said. “If I’m living in a house, and the house is getting renovated around me, it’s hard for me to not take notice because the roof, the ceiling’s missing, right?”
“But the beauty of this movie, this Aquaman world, is that, very early on, we always said that we are our own separate universe. My goal was always… If we could spin off a Seven Kingdoms universe, that would be my ideal dream. So, what we do, ultimately, doesn’t get affected by all that stuff, all that noise,” the filmmaker added.
“So, the first was a romance action-adventure movie, the second one is a bromance action-adventure movie. We’ll leave it at that.”James Wan
Despite the creative reshuffle at DC Studios and the drama surrounding Amber Heard, Warner Bros released a teaser, announcing a full-length trailer for Aquaman 2 on September 14. Despite its brief 30-second duration, the teaser provides an exhilarating preview of what fans can expect from the highly anticipated sequel.
The clip includes a confrontation between Aquaman (Jason Momoa) Aquaman and Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), with the latter saying, “I’m going to kill Aquaman and destroy everything he holds dear.” The rest of the footage features action-packed snippets from the film, along with a glimpse of Dolph Lundgren reprising his role as King Nereus. Amber Heard is not in the Aquaman 2 teaser.
Directed by James Wan and featuring a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, the film’s story centers on Black Manta’s efforts to defeat Aquaman and avenge his father’s death. This time, the villain wields the power of the mythical Black Trident, which unleashes an ancient evil force. Arthur seeks assistance from his imprisoned brother Orm, the former King of Atlantis, to confront this threat.
“I always pitched this to everyone from the get-go. The first Aquaman was Arthur and Mera’s journey. The second movie was always going to be Arthur and Orm.”James Wan
Meanwhile, the defamation trial involving Amber Heard and Johnny Depp concluded with Depp as the victor, casting doubts over Heard’s involvement in Aquaman 2. The jury determined that the actress’s 2018 article in The Washington Post, titled “I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change,” was defamatory.
As a result of the verdict, Amber Heard (who still appears in Aquaman 2) was ordered to pay Johnny Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. However, the latter amount was reduced to $350,000 due to a legal limitation. In a counterclaim, Heard was awarded $2 million in damages against Depp after his lawyer’s use of the term “hoax” was also deemed defamatory.
During the trial, there was a petition circulating to remove Amber Heard from her role in Aquaman 2, which garnered over 4.5 million signatures. Among her co-stars, only Dolph Lundgren has commented on working with Heard. In June 2022, he said, “She was great. I worked with her on the first Aquaman and now the second one. We shot last fall in London. She’s terrific. I had a great experience with her.”