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Biggest unanswered questions in Aquaman

The DCEU gets deeper, both literally and figuratively, with the theatrical release of Aquaman, a two-hour-plus plunge into the murky abyss teeming with undersea politics, reluctant beefcake princes, wet and wild superpowers, and magical artifacts. What's left to take away after the Atlantean prince's rise to power and journey of self-discovery? Well, a whole lot of questions, not the least of which is how they taught an octopus to drum. 

While a whole lot about Atlantean culture and ritual was explored, it's hard to define the most complex workings of an entire made-up historical civilization in just one movie, and even more difficult when that kingdom has split off into seven different tribes of warring weirdos, most of whom look like they'd taste really good with some melted butter. So, if you're left perplexed about just how the seven kingdoms get it done, chances are so is everybody else. Here's what we still need to find out.

The greed of Atlan

The fall of Atlantis, according to Aquaman lore, happened because their king, Atlan, got too greedy with his power. After he placed his powerful Trident into a mysterious device, an explosion ripped through Atlantis and the ocean swallowed the kingdom. But what, exactly, could possibly cause a catastrophe that would destroy an entire, ultra-advanced civilization and cause it to fracture into seven different factions?

We never find out. Presumably, placing a magical trident into a magical device would somehow amplify the powers of both objects exponentially, but to what ends? And as the most powerful ruler on the planet, what promises were made to tempt King Atlan? Sure, you don't really need to explain the mechanics of mystical powers in a fantasy world, but we're talking about the world's biggest whoops here. Exploding the known world warrants a little more explanation than "some dude got greedy."

Powers of the Trident

Arthur and Mera's primary objective in the movie is to retrieve the trident of Atlan. It's clear that some of the tridents possessed by Atlanteans are imbued with magic, although that magic is ill-defined, and sometimes, Atlanteans are even capable of doing magic without swinging around pointy weapons. Aquaman can communicate with fish, and Mera can inexplicably control the flow of water, both skills which are not exactly common to all Atlanteans. The rules of wet magic are pretty loose.

So, what exactly can Atlan's Trident do that Atlanna's couldn't, other than not break in gladiatorial combat? We know that Atlan's trident is a very powerful, legendary symbol of unity for all of the people of the Seven Kingdoms, but aside from granting Arthur Curry the power of spontaneously-appearing golden, scaly pecs, the powers of the Trident are ill-defined. It can be reasoned that the Trident possibly amplifies Aquaman's power over fish and fish-type creatures, though he didn't really seem to have all that much trouble chatting up crabs before. Has the power been inside Arthur Curry all along? Did his heart grow three sizes that day? We just don't know yet.

In plain sight

Underwater relationships are more complicated than any episode of Days of Our Lives. Digging deep into Arthur Curry's family history, we find out that his mother, Atlanna, was tossed into the monster-filled Trench after her second husband Orvax (whom she was arranged to marry) finds out that she had a half-human baby with her first husband. Before Atlanna is given the Trench treatment, she entrusts another Atlantean and friend of the Royal Family, Vulko, to keep an eye on her half-human kid, Arthur Curry. 

Arthur is trained in the ways of the fish people for at least 20 years, unbeknownst to the royalty of Atlantis, who have declared Arthur an exile... except Orm knows. And Mera knows. And who knows how many other Atlanteans know where young Arthur, potential usurper to the crown, actually lives? He doesn't make his location a secret. He pops up on Instagram and has a habit of making at least a few very public rescues of humans. Orm clearly wants Aquaman dead, since Aquaman is the only thing that can really put a stop to his plans to become Ocean Master, so it seems like at least 20 years' worth of missed opportunities to take out Arthur before his powers truly developed. Orm's the last guy who seems like he'd be above killing a kid.

Hidden worlds

Much of DC's cinematic world depends on the fact that humans just aren't that observant. Themyscira is hidden in the middle of the ocean by a magical veil that only a few people have managed to see through, and Atlantis is well-hidden because about 80% of the Earth's oceans remain unexplored. But even within the kingdom of Atlantis is yet another hidden world that nobody seems to really know about: the unnamed world of the Earth's core, where dinosaurs roam free, and Aquaman finds Atlanna. 

Readers of DC comics know that there's a canonical inner Earth called Skartaris that was first accessed by Travis Morgan, aka Warlord, via a hole in the North Pole. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the sword-and-sorcery world of Skartaris bears a striking resemblance to this inner-Earth. Going even deeper into comic lore, within Skartaris is a city called Shamballah, an ancient Atlantean stronghold that's sunk to the core of the Earth, not unlike where Atlan's tomb is found. While this all sounds awful familiar, Warlord's small collection of dedicated fans need to know: did we just get Skartaris on the big screen?

Manta man talk

Perhaps one of Aquaman's biggest unanswered questions is Black Manta — just everything about Black Manta. David Kane is a technological supergenius to rival the likes of Tony Stark. He's created technology powerful enough to steal experimental stealth submarines from the government, but he relies on blasting through other military vehicles to fulfill his pirate-y desires instead of doing something truly financially fulfilling with his genius. He's in casual communication with the people of the Seven Kingdoms, though we're never told just exactly how Manta and Orm made their love connection in spite of Orm's hatred and distrust of surface dwellers... or how Manta planned to spend that sackful of Atlantean coins he was paid with for sabotaging the underwater meeting between Orm and Nereus.

Manta's one and only goal, after the death of his father in a failed pirating endeavor, is to kill Aquaman. Fortunately for Orm, his goals continue to align with Manta's. Manta not only gets a squad of fishmen to command, but his very own experimental Atlantean tech, which he spraypaints black and reconfigures into a super-suit. While fish-tech is the only way to really take down Aquaman, Manta wandering around with secret tech on the surface seems like a loose end that Orm would never want to leave dangling... and that's exactly what happens. If there was some kind of failsafe to prevent humans using Atlantean tech against Atlantis, we never find out what it was.

The seventh kingdom

Atlantis, Xebel, the Trench, the Desert, the Fishermen, and the Brine Kingdom make up most of the tribes of Atlantis... but what's the seventh kingdom? Early posters for Justice League featuring Aquaman bore the slogan "Unite the Seven," but once Justice League actually came out, there were only six heroes.

Aquaman only revealed six of the seven kingdoms that broke off from ancient Atlantis by name, but there's a missing kingdom somewhere. It's entirely possible that this missing kingdom is the Earth's core, which seems to be flourishing. But it's also possible that the missing kingdom is the surface world, given the fact that Aquaman is destined to be "a bridge between the land and the sea," and his birth and Atlan's Trident are both pretty powerful symbols of unity. It's also equally possible that DC is saving a seventh kingdom for a sequel, since there are more than enough bizarre hidden kingdoms floating around to slip into the DCEU, including sects of undersea people who have alliances with extraterrestrials. DC can't have an outer space adventure soon enough.

Man vs. fish

There are a lot of questions about where the metaphorical land ends and the sea begins, especially when it comes to Mera's understanding of the surface world. It's unclear just how much time she spends above water, but all of it has apparently been in pursuit of Arthur Curry's return to Atlantis. She's not sure what to do with flowers (so she eats them), but knows exactly how to use a boat. She knows how to play a flute, and knows what movies are, but also has never heard of Pinocchio. She'll leap out of a plane into a desert, but also recoils from a fall off of a two-story building. 

We're left to wonder just how much Atlanteans know about the surface world. Despite their incredible technology and advanced surveillance skills, if they still act like the Little Mermaid on the surface. They've got a long way to go. Don't even get us started on how Arthur Curry got all of those intricate tattoos without a needle made of Atlantean steel. We won't even go there.