by Dylan Sondike ‘24
When the DC universe was jump-started a little over 10 years ago with Man of Steel, there were high hopes for what adventures these DC superheroes would go on and how the films would stack up against the Marvel franchise. Films including Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League gave fans hope for what would come in the future. After 10 years, however, the release of James Wan’s Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom concludes the DC extended universe, ending on another disappointing note.
With the introduction of Aquaman (Jason Momoa) in Justice League followed by his own movie a year later, the character development and concept seemed very promising. However, Momoa’s new film has a very stalled plot throughout the movie and lacks adventure.
Lost Kingdom returns to a character, Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who has resented Aquaman since he left Manta’s father to die on a submarine in the opening of the first film. Manta’s new power from the black trident forces Aquaman to team up with the major villain from the first film. Aquaman is forced to team up with his brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) who prevented him from taking the throne in the first movie.
While Wan creates a cool concept of having the brothers unite to take on a new enemy, much of the new film is repetitive to Wan’s first creation of Aquaman. With practically the same cast, there lacks a true challenge to Aquaman’s throne as he had already been shown to be more powerful than these same villains in the prior film.
Additionally, while Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta does a somewhat good job at portraying his hate and resentment toward Aquaman, his character doesn’t come off as an overpowering force to Aquaman and the entirety of Atlantis due to his lack of technology and a large army to defeat them.
This film also lacks creativity as it reminds this viewer of many aspects of past Marvel films. It similarly takes the idea of brothers who once fought each other for power and now have united, as seen in the Thor movies when over time Loki and Thor made peace and became closer to one another. Lost Kingdom also repeats the idea of sharing technology with humans and the rest of the world, which was evident in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom struggles to come up with a new plot and characters. Ironically, this film is the perfect ending to the disappointing 16 movies created by DC’s extended universe.