Warning: SPOILERS Below For Aquaman
Aquaman is a crowd-pleasing, immersive, superhero adventure, but it does open up some big questions that go unanswered. Regarded as a course-correction towards a brighter and more fun DC Extended Universe, director James Wan's tentpole was already a record-breaking hit in China even before it conquered the United States during the Christmas holiday weekend. While critical reception is mixed, audiences seem to be enjoying Jason Momoa's solo outing as the King of the Seven Seas.
In Aquaman, Arthur Curry must seize his destiny and become the King of Atlantis to stop his half-brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson) from uniting the seven kingdoms of the sea and igniting a war with the surface world. With the help of Mera (Amber Heard), Arthur embarks on a quest to locate the fabled Trident of Atlan, an ancient weapon tied to Atlantis' very origins that would not only let Arthur command the seas but would instantly make him King. Meanwhile, Orm hires a pirate named Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who holds a personal vendetta against Arthur, to stop the Aquaman. The hero also learns hidden truths about his own origins and the fate of his missing mother Queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman).
Related: 25 Things You Missed In Aquaman
Set after the events of Justice League, Aquaman is full of high-spirited, globe-hopping adventure and eye-popping superhero spectacle. It draws elements from Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, old-fashioned adventure movies, and even romantic comedies but that entertaining mishmash of styles does end up creating some confusing moments, especially for fans who aren't versed in the decades of Aquaman's stories in DC Comics. Here are our biggest unanswered questions about Aquaman.
- This Page: Questions About Aquaman's Origin
- Page 2: Questions About Atlantis
- Page 3: Questions About What Happens In Aquaman
Why Did Vulko Age But Queen Atlanna Didn't?
As Arthur tells the story of how his parents met and how he was born, Queen Atlanna fled an arranged marriage to King Orvax and washed up on the rocks outside Tom Curry's (Temuera Morrison) Maine lighthouse in 1985. A few years after Arthur was born, Atlantean soldiers attacked the Curry family and Atlanna chose to return to Atlantis in order to keep Tom and Arthur safe.
In the roughly 30 years that pass between Atlanna leaving and the events of Aquaman, we see Tom Curry age appropriately. Even Arthur's Atlantean mentor Vulko has aged; Willam Dafoe was digitally de-aged in the flashback scenes where he trains young Arthur in how to use his powers. But when Mera and Arthur discover Atlanna in the Hidden Kingdom, the former Queen hasn't aged a day and looks exactly the same - a discrepancy even further highlighted when she reunites with Tom at the end of the film. Atlanna is of Atlantean royal blood, so does she age much slower than other Atlanteans like Vulko? Does that mean Aquaman will also age slowly? Or did the decades Atlanna spent in the Hidden Kingdom somehow keep her youthful?
What Happened To The Atlantean Soldiers That Attacked The Curry Lighthouse?
A group of armored Atlantean soldiers attack Atlanna in the Curry lighthouse. The Queen efficiently kills them all, including impaling one on the wall with her Quindent. In the next scene, we see Atlanna make the choice to leave Tom and Arthur and swim back to Atlantis to face her fate - but what happened to the bodies of the Atlantean guards? Did they bury them? Did Atlanna throw them back into the sea? How did Tom explain the damage to his house to his insurance company?
Why Didn't King Orvax Have Arthur Killed?
When she returned to Atlantis, the Queen went through with her arranged marriage to King Orvax and then they had a son, Orm. Then Orvax found out about Arthur and condemned Atlanna to death by sacrificing her to the Trench. However, Arthur remained safe from Orvax's wrath. Why didn't Orvax send more soldiers to have Arthur killed since he's a threat to Orm's claim to the Throne of Atlantis? Perhaps Atlanna pleaded for Arthur's protection or, likely, Vulko worked politically to keep Atlanna's firstborn son safe. Obviously if Arthur had been killed, there'd be no Aquaman and no movie. But considering the vengeful nature of Atlanteans, it's a strange oversight that neither Orvax nor Orm took the extra steps to ensure that Arthur couldn't one day enter Atlantis and make a claim to the throne - which is exactly what did happen.
What Happened After Everyone Saw Arthur Use His Powers At The Aquarium?
During a field trip to the Boston Aquarium (which is called the New England Aquarium in real life), Arthur is bullied by his classmates, but then all of the marine life in the water tank come to his rescue. As the future Aquaman exhibits his ability to talk to and control sea creatures, the other children and adults in the room are frightened of what they witness. But then... nothing happens. Or at least nothing we are shown.
The scene is reminiscent of the times young Clark Kent was bullied in Man of Steel, but unlike Zack Snyder's Superman origin, there's no moment in Aquaman where Tom Curry has to deal with concerned parents and counsels his son about the dangers of using his powers in front of others. In fact, the way Arthur rather brazenly and publicly lives his life, despite being famous as "the Aquaman", it doesn't seem like Tom Curry ever advised his son to hide who he is the way Jonathan Kent did Clark.
Page 2: Aquaman Questions About Atlantis
If Arthur Is A Half-Breed, How Is He As Powerful As A Full-Blooded Atlantean?
Arthur is referred to as a "half-breed" several times in Aquaman but why doesn't being half-human limit Arthur's powers in any way? While there are decades of comic books that define and retcon Aquaman's powers, for the purposes of the movie we are pointedly told Arthur is only half-Atlantean. One would assume Arthur would only be half as strong as a regular Atlantean, who are said to approach Kryptonian power levels when underwater - yet Aquaman appears to possess every single ability that every other Atleantean does plus something extra - the ability to talk to fish.
If Arthur Is The Only One Who Can Talk To Fish, How Did Atlantis Get Marine Life To Act As Labor?
Judging by how Mera was surprised and confused when Arthur talked a whale into letting them take refuge in its mouth, Aquaman's ability to talk to fish is an anomaly. However, the Atlantean civilization has apparently domesticated all sorts of marine life - but how? We see Atlantean soldiers riding sharks and giant seahorses, for example, and when Mera and Arthur first arrive in the capital city, we see all sorts of sea creatures performing various tasks and labors. Since Atlantis already has sophisticated technology, machines and vehicles, why do they still utilize marine life to work for them the way The Flintstones used dinosaurs - and how did they domesticate fish in the first place?
How Does An Octopus Play The Drums?
Speaking of marine life performing unlikely tasks in Atlantis, arguably the strangest sight of all was the octopus playing the drums when Arthur and Orm had their duel in the Ring of Fire. Yes, somehow, the Atlanteans got an octopus to learn to play drums and somehow that sound carries through in the ocean. Fans might think the drumming octopus is Aquaman's attempt to top the giant ant playing drums in Marvel's Ant-Man and the Wasp, but this is actually a clever Easter egg. The octopus drummer is really Topo the Octopus, an obscure character from the Golden Age of DC Comics who was one of Aquaman's first sidekicks.
How Does Black Manta Spend The Atlantean Money Orm Pays Him With?
The pirate known as Black Manta is revealed to be working for Orm and he stole a Russian submarine that Orm used as political "evidence" the surface world wants to wage war on Atlantis. Later, Orm sends soldiers to give Manta his payment for his services: gold Atlantean coins. While those coins were undoubtedly of great value, how was Manta supposed to cash them in? That's currency from Atlantis - a place the surface world doesn't know even exists (Aquaman himself is considered a metahuman).
Manta seemed to recognize this conundrum and wasn't particularly excited to receive his payment. He was much more pleased when Orm hired him to kill Aquaman and gave him something much more valuable to him: Atlantean armor and weapons that he used to create his Black Manta suit.
Isn't Orm Actually Right About Humans Polluting The Oceans?
King Orm may be the villain in Aquaman, but like all great bad guys, he might actually be right - at least, from a certain point of view. Orm's mission in the film is to unite the kingdoms of Atlantis and be declared Ocean Master so that he can lead a war with the surface world. The reason for Orm's ire is the long history humans have of polluting the ocean by dumping their garbage and toxic waste. Orm's first strike is to send a tidal wave all over the world that washes tons of our garbage right back to our shores.
The thing is, Orm has a legitimate gripe about humans destroying the very planet that gives us life and sustenance by our carelessness and greed. Waging war and killing billions of people isn't the answer, but Aquaman does contain an environmental message about how we've been polluting the oceans that is worth paying heed to and taking (non-violent) action about.
Why Didn't Arthur Notify The Justice League Of Orm's Plan?
Aquaman is clearly set in the post-Justice League DCEU. Mera references Aquaman and the superheroes defeating Steppenwolf, so Arthur Curry could have called his super friends for help against Orm. And to be sure, Orm's plan to start a war with the surface is a world-threatening event that would have concerned the League. In fact, Orm's tidal wave that dumped millions of tons of garbage onto the shores of every continent on Earth is exactly the type of incident that would have demanded Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman's attention. However, the League is nowhere to be found.
Granted, Aquaman isn't a team-up film and his solo movie is meant to establish him and his Atlantean universe within the DCEU. It would have undermined Aquaman's ascension as a worthy hero and King if he went running to his super friends for help instead of winning the day on his own. Still, it was odd that Aquaman didn't make any attempt to contact the League if only to tell them to hang back and to assure them that Orm and the ocean are his jurisdictions and he's got it handled.
Why Did It Only Take One Drop Of Water To Activate King Atlan's Hologram?
Mera commits treason by saving Arthur from death at Orm's hands in the Ring of Fire and together, they escape to find the Kingdom of the Deserters in what is now the Sahara Desert. There, they reach the armory where Atlan's Trident was forged and a massive wheel that they needed to plug a device into which would then emit King Atlan's hologram. Mera solves the riddle of why it doesn't work by realizing it needs water to function, but how did only one drop of water activate the machine?
The entire apparatus had been dried up in the desert for thousands of years, but only one bead of liquid activated it? It actually would have made more sense of Arthur peed on it, as he suggested. Also, Mera dropped the tiny bit of water on the device they brought with them, but it had been submerged in Atlantis for who knows how long, so wouldn't it have retained some moisture? Maybe they should have dropped the water on the machine itself.
How Did Arthur And Mera Escape The Kingdom of the Deserters?
Maybe the biggest plot hole in Aquaman is how Arthur and Mera escaped the Kingdom of the Deserters and arrived in Sicily. After diving out of an airplane without a parachute, the aquatic duo found themselves lost in the vast dunes of the Sahara Desert - until Arthur fell down a hole that led to the cavernous, empty Kingdom of the Deserters deep beneath the sands. Arthur and Mera slid hundreds of feet into the Earth but after they watched Atlan's hologram, how did they get out of there? Even if they made it back to the surface, they were still lost in the desert with no money and no means to call for help. The movie just jumps over this predicament and conveniently rockets them to Sicily to keep the story moving forward.
Why Didn't Arthur Know Pinocchio Was A Book?
Mera considered Arthur was just a big, dumb guy for most of their time together until he began to impress her by exhibiting hidden depths of knowledge. It turns out, thanks to his father, Arthur is actually well-versed in Roman history and identified statues of Marcus Agrippa, Scipio Africanus, and Romulus, one of Rome's first kings. However, Arthur claims he didn't know Pinocchio was a book before it was a Disney movie! Considering his father's library and how Arthur was raised, this is a rather strange gap of knowledge. Then again, he might have just been kidding - although Mera, who was raised in Atlantis and never saw the movie or read the book, wouldn't have gotten the joke anyway.
Is Everyone In Atlantis Really On Board With Arthur Being King Now?
Although some fans understandably equate the politics surrounding Atlantis' throne to conflict over who becomes King of Wakanda in Black Panther, the quest for the Trident of Atlan is meant to evoke the mythology of King Arthur, Excalibur, and the Holy Grail - which Aquaman makes perfectly obvious when everyone hails "King Arthur" at the end.
But in Aquaman, the Trident of Atlan is also considered legend and part of the kingdom's creation myth - no one has even seen the Trident of Atlan in thousands of years. Meanwhile, generations of kings and queens have sat upon the throne of Atlantis and Orm is a full-blooded Atlantean, not a "half-breed bastard" who was raised in the surface world. What's more, there were plenty of Atlanteans who did support Orm and believed in bringing war to the surface world, like Mera's father King Nereus (Dolph Lundgren).
And yet, Orm's legitimacy is immediately superseded by Arthur appearing out of nowhere with Atlan's Trident and beating him in a fight. True, Arthur does 'command the sea' and, by ancient Atlantean laws, that makes him King, but considering Aquaman established a lot of Game of Thrones-like political intrigue, it's still strange that Arthur is instantly and unanimously accepted as King of Atlantis no questions asked. But then again, maybe it wasn't so cut-and-dry after all and hopefully a sequel will dive deeper into the consequences of Aquaman becoming King Arthur.