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Every superhero movie faces an excruciating trip through the rumor mill during pre- and post-production. We hear about lengthy director’s cuts, alternate endings, deleted sequences… and a promise that Henry Cavill was coming back to play Superman following Black Adam. So yeah, they don’t all work out, and may die on the vine. James Wan’s upcoming Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom has faced its fair share of online rumors, which didn’t die down after the movie finally dropped its first trailer. In fact, the presence of one key character led to a nasty rumor that, if true, has me concerned about the Christmas release.
As we saw in the first full trailer for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) now has a baby. The hero talks about being a hero and a father, but no mention of a husband… even though we assume that the child’s mother is none other than Mera, played by Amber Heard. One rumor suggests that Heard’s presence in the sequel has been drastically reduced, but that’s not the rumor I’m concerned with. More online chatter suggests that audience’s have been walking out of test screenings of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. And in a Reddit thread dedicated to DC Movies, it’s suggested that the scene that forced people to walk out of the test screenings involved the death of Arthur’s child.
Would DC allow Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom to go that dark? Well, probably not, even though there is a line in the trailer where Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) promises to “murder his family and burn his kingdom to ash.” But killing a baby goes too far. Doesn’t it?
DC Comics didn’t think so. Beginning in 1974, a serialized Aquaman story involved the underwater hero taking on Black Manta, and being forced to fight against his own ally Aquadlad in order to save his infant son, Aquababy. Yes, they called the child Aquababy. Black Manta puts the baby in an airtight chamber, threatening to suffocate it. Aquaman and Aqualad eventually team up, but they are too late to save the child. Aquababy dies, and it drives Aquaman and Mera apart.
Still, there’s no way they can include that in a DC Movie, especially one that’s being released during the Christmas holiday. The original Aquaman earned north of a billion dollars by embracing trippy, neon-glow fantasy… not the darkness that consumes a DC film like Joker. If you told me there was a Darren Aronofsky inspired infant death in an upcoming DC movie, my money would be on Joker: Folie a Deux, which returns Joaquin Phoenix and adds Lady Gaga to the mix as Harley Quinn. Basically, if Aquababy actually dies in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, I think it’s a huge mistake, and doesn’t fit the tone of what’s being sold in this trailer:
Place your bets now. Will there be a tragedy in Aquaman’s life in the upcoming Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom that shakes Arthur to the core? This is the end of the DCEU, because James Gunn reboots the system, and that’s a memorable way to end it. But I still think it’s a rumor, and one that will get cleared up in time. We shall see when Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom opens in theaters on December 20.