×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Things You Missed In The Aquaman Trailer

From a season-long joke on Entourage to theaters all around the world, the Aquaman movie is finally on its way to being a real thing. The solo adventure for the DC Comics character rolled out its first full trailer from Warner Bros. during San Diego Comic-Con, and the result has people feeling more excited than they thought they could ever be over a superhero who can talk to fish.

Hitting theaters on December 21, Aquaman is coming in the wake of the DC Extended Universe (now Worlds of DC) movie Justice League, which saw the aquatic hero reluctantly help some costumed weirdos do battle with a monster man from outer space. But now, for the first time in the live-action format, the character is taking the spotlight with a James Wan-directed, Jason Momoa-led story. 

The movie's long-awaited first trailer provides the clearest look yet at what we can expect from the murky depths, and we've gone through it frame-by-frame. Read on for all the details you may have missed from the first batch of Aquaman footage.

The Trench

One of the trailer's more badass-looking shots involves Jason Momoa's Aquaman and Amber Heard's Mera diving into the ocean to escape a swarm of some kind of monsters, hugely outnumbered while their ship is overwhelmed. 

This evil, vengeful group chasing after the Atlantean heroes are members of a society known as the Trench, who were first introduced in a 2011 Aquaman comics run by writer Geoff Johns, who has a story credit on the film. Formerly Atlanteans themselves, the Trench are a splinter sect that was formed when the legendary city sank into the sea, with their group falling deep into the Marianas Trench

While the rest of the surviving Atlantis population adapted to undersea life and maintained their humanoid looks, the Trench became monstrous and cannibalistic, adopting savage methods of hunting and marauding in order to survive. Led by their own King and Queen, the Trench serves as a dark mirror image to the other prosperous Atlanteans, sea monsters who are some of the more formidable dangers of the deep.

The friendly pilot

The closing shots of the trailer take place in an airplane flying over the desert, transporting fruits, vegetables, and other cargo. While not much emphasis is placed on his appearance, the pilot of the plane has a history with James Wan that goes way back.

The pilot is played by Leigh Whannell, who is of course the lead actor and writer of the original Saw movie, which Wan helmed as his directorial debut. Since that mega-successful franchise starter got the Australian natives into the Hollywood mix, the two have continued to work together consistently, with Whannell appearing in Wan's Insidious horror franchise as the character Specs, and also directing the third installment of the series himself. (He also wrote the screenplay for Dead Silence, another horror movie Wan directed.)

At the time of this writing, IMDb only lists the character as an anonymous pilot, suggesting Whannell's appearance is more of a cameo than a major role. But it's an appearance that makes you smile if you've been following the two filmmakers' careers over the years, and their unlikely journeys together from a dingy bathroom set in Saw to the height of blockbuster filmmaking.

Getting bulko with Vulko

One shot of the trailer lingers on a teenaged Aquaman, training and being trained in the art of catching a five-pronged spear in between his hands — a move he puts to good use as an adult in the footage as a part of his one-man submarine raid. But while the camera mostly focuses on young Arthur for the purposes of the trailer, the footage also offers a short glimpse of Willem Dafoe's character, Nuidis Vulko, in action. 

According to Dafoe, Vulko is essentially Arthur's mentor figure, being 100 percent Atlantean while Arthur is biracial and raised on the surface. The trailer also shows him teaching Arthur how to swim, shooting through the water at high rates of speed. They're characters with a lot of comics history together, with Vulko serving as Arthur's regent after he takes the Atlantean throne. 

It's been a long time coming for the character onscreen, too. Vulko was originally supposed to make an appearance in Justice Leaguebut as we now know all too well, not a lot about that movie really went according to plan. Maybe it's better that he makes his debut in a movie that knows what it wants to be.

Swim good

The big "yayuh!" moment of the Aquaman trailer is his arrival on a submarine after inviting himself on board. But what you might not have had a chance to witness is Aquaman's blink-and-you'll-miss-it approach to the submarine, which he intercepts while underwater. It only lasts about a second, and shows Aquaman swimming his way toward the sub at an absolutely incredible rate of speed — a skill we haven't really gotten to see him show off in his earlier movie appearances. Regardless, it's a power he's long had in the comics, being able to swim at the rate of 6,800 miles per hour.

In the DC movie universe, we've already seen a race between the Flash and Superman, so now we're curious about what an undersea race between the Flash and Aquaman would look like — the results might be surprising. Even if the Flash can swim half as fast as he can run, it'd probably be hard to stay on course once Aquaman summons up a swarm of sardines to block the route and break Barry's nose.

Home invasion?

The other big highlight of the trailer is Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta, he of the incredibly comics-accurate evil SCUBA suit. Beyond having one of the coolest looks in the entire history of comic book movies, it looks like the Aquaman rival will play a part in some deeply personal drama. 

This is a little bit of extrapolation on our part, but it looks like Black Manta may manage to attack Curry's family at his coastal home in Thomas Curry's lighthouse, which is where Thomas meets Queen Atlanna when she washes up on the rocky shore. In the Geoff Johns run from which Aquaman partially takes inspiration, Black Manta gets hired by a doctor named Stephen Shin to acquire a blood sample from Arthur, proving that the Curry kid is something more than human. The pursuit ultimately results in Thomas' death.

In the trailer, Black Manta is seen shooting lasers in a small city and working underwater, which makes this shot of him in combat mode in a domestic location stand out all the more. As the only surface-side household we see in the trailer, it's tempting to think that this set piece takes place inside of the Currys' lighthouse home, which would spell pretty terrible things for the one non-superpowered member of the Curry family should Black Manta get his hands on him.

Unite the Seven

In addition to giving audiences an idea of what they're in for on their journey under the sea with Aquaman and friends, the Aquaman trailer finally gave moviegoers an answer to a question that's been lingering out there for literally years. Specifically, after all this time, we finally know the meaning of the phrase "Unite the Seven."

In case you don't recall, the very first image ever released of Jason Momoa's Aquaman came in February 2015, more than three years before his solo movie's release date. That image revealed Momoa's general look as Arthur Curry, superimposed with the phrase "Unite the Seven." At the time, and for years after, no one was really certain what this phrase was meant to convey; some thought it might refer to an iteration of the Justice League with seven members. As it turns out, the tagline refers to what appears to be the general plot of Aquaman, with Arthur's half-brother Orm working to unite the seven kingdoms of the ocean into one force to take on the surface world in all-out war. To prevent a conflict, Arthur is being asked to step into the fray, fighting for the throne like Killmonger himself

Incredible flying Aquaman

For a guy who's so identified with the open water, Aquaman sure does spend a lot of time in these movies soaring through the air. The trailer is no different, ending with a sequence in which Mera, and then Arthur, leap out of a plane with no parachutes, no planning, and reckless abandon. 

Even though the character spent a lot of his time in Justice League falling with style as he fought space bugs, the shot in this trailer still comes off as a bit of a brazen action on Arthur's part. One would think that this would be some kind of definite death sentence for the two Atlanteans, but instead, what seems to be happening is that they can just do that.

Flight is one of the comic book powers Aquaman has that doesn't really get brought up all that often, and we weirdly don't know all that much about how it works. It's been used inconsistently, sometimes tied to his trident — much in the same way that Marvel's Thor can effectively soar around with the help of his hammer. It's a strange facet of Aquaman's skillset that's open to interpretation, making our hero from the deep a formidable fighter of the land, air and sea. Along with his super strength and great speed, it begs the question — why did anyone ever decide to call him Aquaman when he comes off as a much more versatile sort of Wonder Dude?

Jellyfish lights

Much like just about any movie ever set in outer space, there's a lot of scientific knowledge that needs to be cast aside in order for the world of Aquaman to work. A society in the deepest depths of the oceans, Atlantis seems impractical for a number of reasons, the first of which being: How does anybody even see down there? At a certain depth, light from the sun ceases to penetrate the water, leaving the deeper depths of the ocean filled with mystery and a dense, almost palpable darkness. It's the sort of thing that has to be ignored in adaptation, otherwise you just don't have a movie. But the trailer does throw a little nod to the problem of visibility. 

While Atlantis obviously doesn't operate on electricity, it seems to get a lot of illumination — at least for special events — from glowing jellyfish, which loom around the arena during the Black Panther-esque "challenge the king in combat" sequence. It remains to be seen if the Atlanteans use jellyfish for everything — we suppose one could also read by the light of the lava. While the jellyfish answer isn't scientifically all that satisfying, it is a cute move to help build out this undersea world, which is easily the most fantastical location we've yet to witness in the Worlds of DC.

Just talk

Another aspect of undersea living that Aquaman is playing fast and loose with is communication. In other words, how are people in the water talking to each other without sounding like the adults from Peanuts? The answer, as the trailer confirms, is that they just can. Movie-ruiner Neil DeGrasse Tyson is just going to have to deal with it. 

Justice League, which introduced Amber Heard's Mera in an underwater dialogue scene with Arthur, dealt with the idea of speaking underwater in a somewhat clunky, controversial manner, having Mera use her control over water to create an air bubble for the purposes of conversation. Luckily, consistency has never been the name of the game in the Worlds of DC, so that weird, potentially drama-crippling solution isn't being brought over to Aquaman's solo outing. James Wan confirmed as much on Twitter in November 2017, writing, "Fret not, no 'air bubbles for dialogue' in my underwater world."

There's a lesson to be learned here for creative types trying to tell stories of the impossible, in that sometimes it helps not to overthink things. How does Aquaman breathe? Who cares. How do they talk? Who cares. What's the plumbing situation like in Atlantis, if there even is one? Seriously... who cares.

Dolph the throne

The dense trailer for Aquaman sets up a lot about the movie, even though it doesn't linger too long on everything it introduces. It appears that the trailer provides a glimpse at Dolph Lundgren's role as Nereus, the King of the undersea region of Xebel. It's hard to be 100 percent certain of the character's identity at a distance, but the design of the royal-looking figure seems to match up with a more stylized version of Nereus who appeared on an April 2017 cover of Den of Geek magazine.

As to the role Nereus will play in the story, we're not entirely sure, though Wan has said that the character is "not quite [a] villain." In the comics by Geoff Johns that seem to have inspired the movie, Xebel is something of a prison colony splintered off from Atlantis proper, isolated in the Bermuda Triangle and populated by people who don't like Atlantis very much. It's a relationship that could easily be mined for drama if Arthur and friends end up needing help in their mission to stop Orm from taking over the seas, and eventually the world.

We don't know much about what Nereus will get up to in the movie, but we do know that he's been substantially altered from his comic book counterpart in at least one way in regards to his relationship with Mera. In the comic books, they were husband and wife — in the movie, they're evidently father and daughter

Behind yellow eyes

As played by Jason Momoa, the Aquaman of the movies has typically been shown as having some mystically pale pupils — a unique look, and fitting enough, considering how his body must be configured in order for his senses to work underwater. But one pivotal moment in the Aquaman trailer appears to be a whole new invention for the character — the yellow shade that young Arthur's eyes turn as he communicates with fish in the aquarium. 

Considering how much emphasis is placed on the moment during the trailer, one may think that the yellowed eyes of a young Aquaman are an aspect of the character straight from the comic book, but it doesn't seem to be the case. It's possible this is an invention meant solely for the audience to understand when Arthur's revving up to throw a pile of sharks at his enemies, the visual equivalent of the Super Friends-era sonar sound or the comic books' "vuu vuu vuu."