Aquaman Star Speaks Out On Role Getting Cut Down

By TeeJay Small | Published

Aquaman star

With the recent release of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, the Zack Snyder DCEU has officially gone the way of the dodo bird, not with a bang, but with a whimper. The film, which caps the franchise that started with 2013’s Man Of Steel, was made to go through a number of last-minute reshoots and restructuring, with a host of major changes between the filming process and the final product. According to Dolph Lundgren, his and Amber Heard’s roles in the film were significantly reduced in the final edit, much to his own chagrin.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom first began production in June of 2021 before encountering a number of behind-the-scenes issues. The largest of which is the transition of power at Warner Brothers, which saw James Gunn take over and ultimately restructure the future of the DCU. The Aquaman sequel had initially called for a number of cameo appearances and instances of world-building that would expand upon the larger superhero universe, which needed to be cut once the producers learned that the gears of the franchise would be grinding to a halt after the film’s release.

This included planned cameo appearances from both Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton’s iterations of Batman, in an apparent tie-in to The Flash, as well as greater roles for performers such as Dolph Lundgren and Amber Heard. Heard, who portrays Mera, the Queen of Atlantis also encountered a great deal of controversy in her personal life which led to an online petition from fans demanding she be cut out of the Aquaman franchise entirely. Though Heard was not removed from the final cut of the film, Dolph Lundgren has confirmed that her role was significantly cut down from what was shot.

In 2022, the studio agreed to a series of expensive reshoots, bringing the film’s budget to a whopping $215 million. Lundgren claims that these reshoots steamrolled his character Nereus’s plot line in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom while rounding out new plot points that weren’t in the original script. In the theatrical cut, Amber Heard’s Mera becomes injured during the first act, and is forced to sit back and recover throughout the runtime until she returns in the final scenes.

Nereus, Mera’s father, agrees to stay back with the queen and tend to her wounds as Aquaman and his cohorts galavant through the world’s oceans in an attempt to stop Black Manta. Dolph Lundgren claims that the minimizing of his character left him confused and frustrated but acknowledged that the nature of blockbuster superhero films can result in a host of unforeseen issues such as these.

Though Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom received largely negative reviews from critics, the film did manage to make its money back for the studio. This is more than what can be said of many comic book outings in 2023, including Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Shazam: Fury of the Gods, and The Flash, which all served as massive box office bombs. While increased screen time for Dolph Lundgren and Amber Heard likely couldn’t have saved the movie or its doomed franchise, it certainly couldn’t have made things much worse.