Why Aquaman 2 Is Dead In The Water

By Britta DeVore | Updated

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, the second installment in Jason Momoa’s standalone superhero film series, has been no stranger to setbacks. Initially set to arrive in December 2022, the studio was forced to push it back an entire year, with the release date now set for December 20, 2023. But, studio-based problems aside, the film is facing backlash from the DC fanbase, pointing many to believe that Aquaman 2 will be yet another major financial loss for Warner Bros. Discovery.

The Amber Heard Problem

It would seem that the most glaring issue facing Aquaman 2’s success is the inclusion of actress Amber Heard. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve certainly heard the star’s name tossed around over the last year – specifically because of her court case with her ex-husband, Johnny Depp. Following a ruling that heavily leaned in Depp’s favor (and even before that), prospective audiences were calling for Heard to be removed from the film with another actress to step into the role of Mera.

Amber Heard in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

However, by this point, the filming for Aquaman 2 had already come to an end and there was no way that the studio, which was already hemorrhaging money, was going to throw its finances into reshoots with a new performer.

Plus, Heard had the support of the film’s director, James Wan, as well as of several of her co-stars which include Jason Momoa and Patrick Wilson. Even with this healthy dose of reality, fans of Depp stuck by the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise star, continuing to call for a boycott of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

The CG Heavy Trailer

And then, there was the film’s first official trailer, which arrived last week. An underwhelming clip of what was to come in Aquaman 2, fans were less than pleased by the footage shown in the teaser, with many ready to turn their backs on the DCEU for good.

Of course, the trailer has dreamy shots of Jason Momoa’s ripped superhero and introduces audiences to his life above the sea – even revealing that he’s now a father – but under the waves, things in the trailer were looking pretty rough for Aquaman. The film’s botched CGI makes it look like it’ll be more of a “B” rated movie from decades ago rather than a 2023 production from the legendary Warner Bros.

And, while there certainly is a fantasy aspect to the world of Atlantis, Jason Momoa’s titular superhero doesn’t even come close to swimming the tides of reality during any of his underwater shots.

As those who have been following the comic book studio’s recent projects will know, the success of Aquaman 2 will be a make-or-break situation. This year, films like Shazam! Fury of the Gods, The Flash, and Blue Beetle didn’t come anywhere close to hitting the mark, meaning that the studio took a major hit to its wallet.

While 2022 saw hope with Black Adam, the same can be said with Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom – however, things didn’t turn out very well for Black Adam, so it’s likely that Warner Bros. Discovery will be holding its breath until viewers can plunge into Aquaman 2

Aquaman 2 Is Part Of The Defunct DCEU

While 2018’s Aquaman continues to hold the title of the highest-grossing DC movie of all time – clocking in at nearly $1.15 billion in global box office sales – the upheaval at the project’s home studio has also led to an uneven field. Since the sequel was greenlit, Warner Bros. has gone under a stunning three studio-head changes and also a merger with Discovery. 

At the tail end of last year, Peter Safran and James Gunn stepped in to save the day at DC Studios, promising to make changes that would see the superhero franchise soar through the skies once again. With a handful of shifts on the way, Aquaman 2 remains part of the old DCEU vision, another fact that may hold it back from becoming a box office winner.

The Reshoots

Fans have also been worried about the multitude of reshoots that faced the film during its production. While most movies will likely face a few moments that need to be re-done, Aquaman 2 brought the cast and crew back together a whopping three times to complete Wan’s final vision. With time ticking down until the very last minute, the final reshoot took place over the summer with Jason Momoa, Patrick Wilson, and other cast members returning to New Zealand to make edits.

In Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Jason Momoa reprises his role as the titular hero, also known as Arthur Curry, who must step up to the challenge of protecting everything and everyone he holds dear after it’s threatened by Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Also starring in the film alongside Momoa, Abdul-Mateen II, Wilson, and Heard are Nicole Kidman, Randall Park, Dolph Lundgren, Vincent Regan, Pilou Asbæk, Indya Moore, and Temuera Morrison. 

Whether audiences love it or hate it, there’s no turning back for Warner Bros. Discovery when it comes to Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. With its arrival on the horizon, it’s only a matter of time until the world voices its views on the sequel.