WARNING: This article contains MASSIVE SPOILERS for Aquaman
The Aquaman movie may still seem like a dream come true, giving Jason Momoa his own adventure within the DC movie universe. So what are the biggest spoilers, plot twists, and changes to the DC Universe that fans of Aquaman are going to be talking about?
While the movie doesn't explicitly state it, Momoa has personally confirmed that Aquaman starts right after Justice League ends (or it would have if Zack Snyder's cut had seen theaters). After saving the world, Arthur Curry heads back home to see his father (Temuera Morrison), but unknowingly stumbles across a larger plot between Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and Orm (Patrick Wilson), Arthur's brother and current King of Atlantis. As rumors of 'the Aquaman' have begun to spread across the surface world, Arthur refuses the throne... until Mera (Amber Heard) arrives to tell him that Orm is uniting Atlantis for war against the world. Leaving Arthur no choice but to return to Atlantis, and no matter how crooked the path, find his way to the throne his mother, Queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) always believed he would earn.
Now that Aquaman is finally hitting theaters all around the world, and DC fans have the chance to see what an underwater fantasy film can truly be, we're breaking down the 10 biggest spoilers, plot twists and surprise reveals in the movie. So one last time: there are SPOILERS ahead for Aquaman.
- This Page: Aquaman Kills, Plot Twists, and Fall of Atlantis
- Next Page: Deaths, The BIG Surprise, and The Final Battle
10. Aquaman (Basically) Kills Black Manta's Father
The movie's decision to perfectly recreate Black Manta's comic book costume is a good sign of how closely they keep to the not-so-heroic way that Arthur Curry effectively creates his own greatest nemesis. In the New 52 version of the story, Arthur seeks out Black Manta's father in a blind rage, and ends up killing him. At which point Manta arrives, revealing himself to be the one Arthur was really looking for, and giving the villain his main reason to crave revenge in his father's name.
The Aquaman movie softens Arthur's rage somewhat, having Manta's father ambush Arthur in the film's opening submarine attack. Arthur responds by tossing a torpedo towards him, pinning him to the deck. Cue one explosive round deflected by Arthur into the hull of the sub, and the rapidly flooding compartment means Arthur would need to act to save Manta's father. He refuses to despite Manta's pleading, and will soon come to regret it as much as he did in the comic books.
9. Orm Stages an Attack On His Own People
Compared to the rest of the superhero villains who have waged war on the world, Arthur's half-brother Orm might actually have the best case of all of them. Citing the total pollution and disregard for the oceans of Earth, Orm argues to the other tribes of Atlantis that the time has come to reclaim their domain. To throw pollution back at the mainland. To toss out their warships, and show them who is truly worthy of leading the planet. And to convince them, he's willing to sacrifice everything.
Orm wins the loyalty of King Nereus (played by Dolph Lundgren) and his kingdom of Xebel by meeting in peace at the crumbling monuments to the Council of Kings. When a submarine attacks their meeting and kills Xebellians and Atlantean alike, they are united in retaliating against the mainland for striking first. Of course, that was all part of Orm's plan (a deception he often used in comics). It makes the point clear: it isn't Orm's motivations or his goals that make him a villain, but the ends means with which he would justify the means.
8. Black Manta is Working For Orm
When the first details confirmed that the Aquaman movie would include BOTH Ocean Master and Black Manta, some fans were concerned the film would be too crowded. After all, that is both Aquaman's greatest rival, and his greatest nemesis in one film. How would the story manage to fold both into its plot?
The truth is that Ocean Master commands most of the spotlight in terms of legitimately opposing Arthur's claims to the trident and throne of Atlantis. Manta is introduced as one of a team of aquatic, special ops pirates attacking a Russian sub, but his true role is revealed later. Manta and his father's crew were hired by Orm to commandeer the sub to help him stage his false attack. Only when Aquaman kills his father does Manta demand help from Orm in taking his revenge, and solving both of their problems. Shockingly, he fails... but not for good.
7. Queen Atlanna Was Fed To The Trench
From the start of the film, Arthur carries serious hatred for Atlantis, believing that they sentenced his mother to death for loving and bearing a child with a surface dweller (his father, Tom). That story, relayed to him in his adolescence by Vulko, is eventually confirmed by King Orm... including the means of her execution. Instead of ending her life quickly with a blade or hydrocannon, Orm's father King Orvax sought to make an example of such a high-profile, royal traitor.
He had Atlanna taken and sacrificed to the Trench, one of the former tribes of Atlantis who transformed into insect-like, horrifying, walking piranha who exist in swarms at the bottom of the ocean. Considering how much of a nightmare they are when Arthur and Mera dive into their best later in the movie, we can say the example was certainly made.
6. Steampunk Atlantis Was Sunk Through Greed
The Atlantis of our actual mythology is a story largely defined by its sinking, a cautionary tale depending on the version of the story, but always a great empire swallowed up by the sea, never to return. In the world of DC Comics, the fact that Atlantis continues to exist and thrives below the surface of the ocean often distracts from the question: why did DC's Atlantis sink in the first place? And fans of the comics are going to get a new explanation for Atlantis' ancient catastrophe in Aquaman's movie.
The history lesson - now a shared device between Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman's origin movies - is delivered by Vulko. Instead of royal betrayal and wrath, magic, or anger of the gods, this account claims it was the Atlanteans who sunk themselves. After becoming the most advanced and widespread empire in the world, powering engineering wonders - including steanpunk-esque walking tanks - the quest for more power was their undoing. The exact details are shown but not explained in depth, with an attempt to unlock the power of King Atlan's trident sending shockwaves and fissures of energy through Atlantis. The city collapsed into the ocean as a result, but it seems that technology, either directly or indirectly, gave Atlantis the start to rebuild their empire underwater.
Next Page: The Biggest Twists & Final Battle
5. Black Manta's Helmet is Now Atlantean Tech
Even in a world where Atlantis exists as an underwater superpower, and Superman used to fly across the sky, the idea that a mercenary would shoot heat blasts out of the eyes of his gigantic helmet can seem a little bit silly. Fortunately, the movies does help to make Black Manta's arsenal a bit more believable. When Arthur meets him, Manta has only his armor and a massive blade to rely on. But once Arthur shows Orm that he's going to put up a fight for the throne, the would-be Ocean Master seeks out Manta, and dumps a trunk of Atlantean technology at his feet.
The hover jets and armor are adapted to Manta's suit easily enough (a coat of black paint goes a long way), but his signature optical blasts are a bit more complicated. Among the goods delivered to Manta is a cannon said to only be a prototype, transforming water into superheated, hard to control plasma. Proving his own intelligence and ingenuity as a weapons maker, it's this cannon that Manta converts into his helmet-based blasts. The lens through which the plasma is fired is one of two he incorporates as the "eyes" of his helmet.
4. Orm Kills The Fisherman King Immediately
Much was made over the casting and reveal of Djimon Hounsou as the human/fish hybrid Fisherman King, ruler of one of the seven overall tribes of Atlantis. After all, after being confirmed to play the wizard in DC's Shazam movie, and returning to his Guardians of the Galaxy role in Captain Marvel, Aquaman makes the third superhero movie in a single year to have Hounsou in its cast. But as strong as his performance may be in Aquaman, it's anything but lengthy.
The Fisherman King is introduced as Orm is trying to plead his case for uniting behind Atlantis in waging war on the surface world. King Nereus previously implied that Orm needed his army to pressure (read: force) the peaceful Fisherman King into an alliance. And the monarch is just as unwilling as he was warned to be... which is why Orm insults him and his kingdom, before killing him with a strike of his trident. With the cost of defiance made perfectly clear to the Fisherman King's daughter - and successor - she has no choice but to pledge loyalty to Orm's cause.
3. Queen Atlanna Wasn't Actually Executed
Yes, the biggest twist of the movie actually managed to stay largely under wraps throughout the film's marketing (a rarity in itself). When Aquaman and Mera follow the dead King Atlan's message into the heart of the Trench waters, they dive into the depths of the ocean knowing they are surrounded by the very same beasts who consumed Queen Atlanna decades earlier. That is, until they descend into a strange underwater vortex, and are spit out into "The Hidden Sea" - an ocean hidden inside the center of the Earth... where Queen Atlanna has survived all along.
Arthur's guardian angel is almost unrecognizable in armor constructed out of pieces of Trench carapace, but when she removes her Trench helm, is the former Queen of Atlantis, alive and well. She managed to enter the Hidden Sea when she was thrown to the Trench, and discovered its true secret: the Hidden Sea is where King Atlan entombed himself, as well as the royal armor and trident. But to claim it is beyond Atlanna... because the legendary Karathen now guards it.
2. Aquaman Wins The Trident By Talking To The Karathen
As Orm tells Arthur earlier in the film, the Atlanteans have an ancient legend that claims only one sea creature ever truly terrified their great King Atlan. The beast was called the Karathen, and its fate was to be driven down into the deepest parts of the ocean. But as Arthur learns from his mother in the Hidden Sea within the Earth, the Karathen is no legend at all. It still lives, entrusted with the task of guarding King Atlan’s remains. Remains which still hold tight the trident that sank Atlantis… and killing any unworthy interlopers who would try to claim it.
Comic fans can probably assume that Aquaman actually is worthy of the trident, and he makes that clear to the Karathen (voiced by Julie Andrews) by using his ability to understand the creature, and speak to its claims directly. He didn’t come for power, but because he “has no choice.” He has come to claim the trident to protect his family, his people, and the world from outbreak of war. And with that, Arthur grasps the trident from King Atlan’s hands, and accepts the magical connection to all life within the sea in the process. The armor, too, although we don’t get to see it.
1. Aquaman Defeats Orm, But Doesn't Kill Him
When Aquaman arrives on the battlefield between Orm’s alliance of Xebel, Atlantis, and the Fisherman Kingdom, and the lowly Brine army, he does so in unforgettable fashion. Once the shock of seeing him emerge in full royal armor, trident in hand, riding a Karathen as big as the battle itself, the true meaning occurs to the soldiers present. Mera pleads to her father, King Nereus, that Arthur has claimed the title of king in their most traditional way… and he agrees. That leaves only Orm for Aquaman to engage in one-on-one combat.
Atop a capsized vessel above the surface - Arthur’s territory - the brothers cross tridents until Aquaman proves his true power in mastery of King Atlan’s spinning trident (a trick Vulko promised to teach him, when he was ready). With his father’s trident shattered, Orm begs for death. But Arthur will not slay him, and the arrival of Atlanna convinces Orm that things are not at all as they seem. As he’s escorted away by Atlantean guards, Arthur promises that they will speak. The two were at war, but their future seems far less violent or grim.
With King Atlan’s trident in one arm, and Mera in the other, Arthur is proclaimed king of the united Atlantis by all present. Bring on Aquaman 2!