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Aquaman 2 Sinks to the Bottom of the Box Office

Warner Bros. Pictures
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is the final film in the DCEU. Stars Jason Momoa and Patrick Wilson.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, after a tumultuous production,was finally released in late December. And it seems that with it, sounds the death knell of Warner Brother’s “DC Extended Universe” (DCEU), which for the last 11 years has been the subject of mild interest and much dersion. And what a fitting end it is, with an almost nonsensical story, weak performances, unfinished effects, and way too much product placement from Guinness, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is the perfect sendoff to the DCEU.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom follows Aquaman (Jason Momoa) as he struggles to shoulder the burden of being the new king of Atlantis, and a father to an infant son with burgeoning super powers. In the last few months Atlantis has apparently been stricken with a deadly plague that has killed many people throughout the kingdom, including Willem Dafoe’s character, Vulko. Yet the disease and its effects are never actually shown, but one can assume it’s pretty bad, given how bad everyone keeps saying it is. A reprieve from the mundanity of Aquaman’s new life comes in the form of an attack on Atlantis by Black Manta, who, with the aid of ancient Atlantean technology, threatens to destroy the world itself. Aquaman has no choice but to enlist the help of his half-brother Orm, who’s currently locked up for nearly destroying the world itself in the last movie.

There are many issues with this movie, but among the worst are the characters. Aquaman himself doesn’t have much going for him character-wise besides a desire to save the world and protect his family. He talks quite often about struggling to fulfill his role as king, but as he spends the vast majority of the movie far removed from Atlantis we never see him struggle with the responsibility of being a leader.

Black Manta is without a doubt the funniest character in the movie, he’s played deadly serious from start to finish. This starkly contrasts the rest of the movie, which has a considerably lighter tone. Manta’s characterization is especially funny given that he is essentially a bond villain in this movie, complete with henchmen in goofy outfits, and a convoluted plan to destroy the world by accelerating global warming using an ancient Atlantean super weapon housed inside a volcano on a tropical island. 

Performance wise things are a bit rough. Jason Momoa, who’s charisma carried much of the first movie, does a lot of the heavy lifting throughout the sequel as well. Though Momoa seems much less enthusiastic this time around, as does most of the main cast in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

The film also really struggles with exposition. There are numerous ways to cleverly convey information to the audience without outright telling them. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom  adopts a much simpler approach. At multiple points throughout the movie, a character will explain to another character, via an extended monologue, key aspects of the plot and worldbuilding. Whether this is a side effect of the copious reshoots, or just plain lazy writing is hard to tell.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is the last film in the DCEU, and maybe that’s for the best. With James Gunn and Peter Safran now at the helm, perhaps DC can turn over a new leaf. Gunn has announced plans for a total reboot of the DC Universe, starting with Superman: Legacy currently slated for a 2025 release.

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About the Contributor
Jacob Hallberg, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

My name is Jacob, I’m a Junior and this is my second year on the Banner. Outside of school, I enjoy reading, writing, and watching movies.

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    Vincent L DillonFeb 1, 2024 at 2:37 pm

    What hero had the highest grossing movie and highest grossing sequel in the DCEU? Yep, you guessed it.

    Why is this significant? Well, if you listen to the “experts” not only was the first one supposed to do what the second one did but the second one was supposed to be lower than Blue Beetle.

    This is what is expected from the Trinity not Aquaman. The writer makes it sounds like Aquaman is one of DCs most famous hero and because so these numbers are truly sub par when in actuality if Batman or Superman were to pull numbers like this then the angst may be justified but for Aquaman these numbers are actually very phenomenal.

    Regardless of what he thinks, for Aquaman to pull in 1 billion plus for his first movie and well over 400 million for the sequel is pretty dang impressive considering that of all the Justice League he’s probably the one hero that people know the least about.