Aquaman is the first solo film about the King of the Seven Seas but Arthur Curry's movie has been teased since the very beginnings of the DC Cinematic Universe. In director James Wan's film, Jason Momoa reprises his role as Arthur, a half-human/half-Atlantean outcast, who must assume his destiny to become King and save the world from his evil half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson).
The Aquaman movie is seen as something of a new start for the DCEU. It is the first release since last year's Justice League struggled with critics and at the box office following movie-changing reshoots by Joss Whedon to Zack Snyder's films, we're on the brink of a new era of DC films. Aquaman is a bright, vibrant and, per early reactions, fun adventure a world away from the dourness of the Snyderverse, and what's to come - Shazam!, Joker, Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman 1984 - is as exciting as it is varied.
Related: How The DCEU Is Rebooting In 2019
But the DNA of the early DCEU is still there in Aquaman. Indeed, over the previous five movies, Aquaman has been revealed as an integral component of the shared universe all along. Here's how the King of the Seven Seas has been referenced, teased, or has appeared in every prior DCEU film.
- This Page: Aquaman in Man of Steel, Batman v Superman & Suicide Squad
- Page 2: Atlantis In Wonder Woman & Justice League
Aquaman Saved Superman In Man of Steel
A secret cameo where Aquaman saved Superman in Man of Steel was confirmed by Jason Momoa last year. In Zack Snyder's Superman reboot, Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) spent years traveling around the world and taking odd jobs so he could use his powers to secretly help people in need. While working as a fisherman, Clark intervened during an accident that caused an oil rig to explode. The bearded Kryptonian held the rig's pillars together so that the workers could get to safety but was caught in the resulting explosion, which knocked him unconscious. When Clark came to, he was underwater and surrounded by whales - which fans theorized were sent by Aquaman to rescue him. It turns out that theory was accurate. As Momoa explained:
In Man of Steel when Henry's on the oil rig, he's holding that up and then all of a sudden you see him up on the ocean, kind of floats up on the ocean. [Zack]'s like, I had [Aquaman] save him so that they'd get to cross paths at one point so when Bruce goes, 'You ever heard of Superman?', I have and we have crossed paths.
So even in the nascent days of the DCEU, Snyder was already thinking about the future of the shared universe and was seeding Aquaman to be part of it in some form or another. As the plans for the DCEU evolved, Aquaman's stature continued to grow, especially after Snyder cast Momoa in the role as a reimagined King of the Seven Seas.
Unite The Seven Poster
In 2015, during the production of Batman v Superman, Zack Snyder tweeted the first look at Jason Momoa as Aquaman with the tagline "Unite the Seven". This immediately set off fan speculation that "Unite the Seven" referred to the seven core members of the Justice League: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, Green Lantern, and Aquaman. However, as Snyder's original plans for Justice League evolved, the team itself would ultimately only be comprised of six members minus Green Lantern.
"Unite the Seven" was nowhere to be seen by the time the first Justice League trailer was released in 2017, with the film's tagline now "Unite the League". It was later revealed during summer 2018 that "Unite the Seven" wasn't referring to Justice League but to Aquaman's solo film, with "the Seven" in question being the seven lost kingdoms of Atlantis that Arthur Curry has to bring together as King. Ultimately, the infamous poster turned out to be a tease for Aquaman three years out.
Aquaman's Debut In Batman V Superman
Batman v Superman was given the tagline Dawn of Justice when it was decided that the first cinematic showdown/team-up of the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight would also introduce the future members of the Justice League.
In the film, Diana Prince and Bruce Wayne competed to heist secret files from Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). Wayne eventually cracked Luthor's encryption and emailed the files to Diana, which included surveillance footage of her, the creation of Cyborg by the fusion of Victor Stone's critically injured body to a Mother Box, Barry Allen using his superspeed to foil a convenience store robbery, and evidence of a bearded man with a trident who can breathe underwater - Aquaman. By the end of Batman v Superman, the Man of Steel was dead and Batman swore to find the metahumans in that footage to assemble a team that could defend the Earth from his Knightmare: an imminent alien invasion.
Aquaman In Suicide Squad Mid-Credits Scene
In Suicide Squad's mid-credits scene, a clandestine meeting took place between Amanda Waller (Violet Davis) and Bruce Wayne. The two struck a deal; Wayne placed Waller under his "protection" to keep certain people from looking into the events in Midway City involving the Enchantress (Cara Delevigne) and the Suicide Squad. In exchange, Waller delivered Top Secret files about known metahumans, including Enchantress, Barry Allen, and Arthur Curry, with Aquaman's revealing his powers and Icelandic location. When Waller alluded that she knows Bruce is the Batman, Wayne countered her veiled threat with one of his own: he suggested Waller shut down the Suicide Squad, or "my friends and I will do it for you".
This mid-credits scene directly sets up Justice League with Bruce Wayne continuing his mission to find and recruit metahumans to form an alliance to help him defend the Earth against the pending invasion from Apokalips. As we found out in Justice League, Arthur Curry - the Aquaman - was at the top of Wayne's recruitment list.
Page 2 of 2: Atlantis In Wonder Woman & Justice League
Poseidon Is Part Of Wonder Woman's Greek Gods
Set in 1918 during World War I, Wonder Woman is a prequel film to the DCEU but it also contained flashbacks set thousands of years ago when Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) explained her daughter Diana's mythical origins, how the Greek gods created the Amazons, and how Ares (David Thewlis) slew his fellow gods so that he would be the only one remaining - until Diana was born to Zeus and Hippolyta with a secret destiny as the God-Killer. One of the Greek gods who Ares killed was, of course, his brother Poseidon, the god of the seas, who has ties to Atlantis, the lost underwater kingdom.
Wonder Woman's set up for the Greek gods prefaces the history of Steppenwolf's first invasion of Earth, as shown in Justice League: Thousands of years ago, Steppenwolf tried to use the Mother Boxes to create the Unity and terraform Earth, but was defeated by an alliance of men, Amazons, Atlantians, the Greek gods, and Green Lantern Yalan Gur fighting together. This established a common bond between Wonder Woman and Aquaman's races forged millennia ago, which plays into them being teammates in the League in the present day.
Justice League's Atlantis Scenes Set Up The Aquaman Movie's Plot
Justice League not only united the six superheroes against Steppenwolf, but it also gave fans their first glimpse of Atlantis, setting the stage for Aquaman to fully realize his corner of the DCEU. In Justice League, Steppenwolf sought to acquire the three Mother Boxes so he could terraform the Earth into another Apokolips. After attacking the Amazons' hidden island of Themyscria and taking the first Mother Box, the alien conqueror targeted the second Box, which was kept in a guarded vault in Atlantis.
Aquaman rushed to the undersea kingdom and fought Steppenwolf with the aid of Mera (Amber Heard), but they both failed to keep the Mother Box away from the Apokoliptian warlord's grasp. Afterward, Mera and Aquaman spoke in an air bubble where some of Aquaman's backstory was revealed: that Arthur was the first born of Queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) and Mera knew Arthur's late mother. Arthur countered with his resentment at his mother for abandoning him in the care of his human father. This conversation set up Aquaman's commitment to helping the League stop Steppenwolf while also laying down the basics of Arthur's history and personal conflicts, which will be the core of Aquaman's story. Don't expect those air bubbles to return, however.