“Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is a true continuation of Arthur’s story,” says director and co-writer James Wan (pictured above), who returns to the world of Atlantis for Aquaman sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.
He’s returning alongside original Aquaman stars Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman and, of course, Aquaman/Arthur Curry himself, Jason Momoa.
While the first movie was a definite super hero origin story, its sequel is more about Arthur “juggling his duties as the King of Atlantis with fatherhood, having to protect both his kingdom and his family,” says Wan.
Indeed, Wan says he always “comes back to the human aspect of the characters” in his movies, no matter the genre, and for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, it looks like that human element comes from family, especially Arthur’s relationship with his brother Orm.
“While our last movie was a love story that focused on Arthur, this is an action adventure with two brothers, Arthur and Orm (Patrick Wilson), overcoming their differences to save the world,” nods Wan.
Now, that may sound a little strange seeing as the last movie saw Orm imprisoned for murdering the Fisherman King. However, Lost Kingdom also sees the return of Black Manta, hellbent on revenge for his father and this time he’s more powerful, wielding the power of the mythic Black Trident, which unleashes an ancient and malevolent force.
Aquaman realises that only his brother can help him defeat Manta, and so breaks him out of prison to do so.
“They’re going up against an even more powerful Black Manta, whose love for his father and his need for vengeance have taken a darker turn,” explains Wan. “We wanted to not only expand the story and the characters, but also give audiences an even more immersive and exciting experience.”
Indeed, though there are plenty of touchpoints to the first film, with a lot of the first movie’s cast and crew returning for its sequel, Lost Kingdom expands the city of Atlantis and goes to a whole bunch of new places too.
“I think [audienes] are going to be thrilled when they see how different this film looks and feels, while still anchored in all the things they loved from the first movie, dialled up in a way that feels fresh and new,” says the movie’s producer Peter Safran, another Aquaman returnee and who’s no stranger on collaborating with Wan, working with him on the Conjuring movies too.
“James Wan has an incredible ability to capture the colours and the fantasy that exist in these never-before-seen worlds,” he says.
On expanding Atlantis, the filmmakers have really given the city depths, showing residential areas and even a ‘Times Square’, as well as delving into some of its more intricate politics.
“Atlantis is even bigger, brighter, more colorful, more vibrant this time,” Wan explains.
To help capture the underwater worlds and its creatures, Wan and his team of filmmakers have moved away from the bluescreen method as used in the first movie, and this time have used ‘Eyeline Studio’, which is brand-new technology where the actors are put in circular booths with 136 cameras fixed into position around them.
“This really changed everything in regard to how we made the movie — it changed the practical way we shot the film and opened up a whole new avenue of creativity as well,” explains producer Rob Cowan.
It’s not just Atlantis we’ll be visiting in Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom, there’s also the actual ‘Lost Kingdom’ aswell. “Arthur and Orm are on a quest that will take them to an entirely new place: The Lost Kingdom,” explains Wan. “Antarctica felt like an inspiring landscape that is familiar, but it’s also a place most of us have not visited, and that would allow me to explore a heightened version of it. I was excited to create this kingdom, which is a completely new visual element in this film, along with other new worlds.”
It’s actually Manta who discovers the Lost Kindom, where he finds ancient Atlantean technology which, though thousands of years old, is still far more advanced than land dweller tech.
Ancient tech that’s far more advanced than modern tech? Well that’s a strange look to achieve…
“James embraced the retro sci-fi look of the Silver Age comics—what, in the ‘50s, they thought the future would look like, we’ve taken and given a modern spin and twist,” Safran explains. “You see this in the ancient Atlantean technology, in the uniforms and weaponry of Manta’s crew, his colossal sub, the one-man Octobots… James really leans in to the look and again, shows us something we’ve never seen. It’s evocative of a certain age, but wholly modern as well.”
The movie doesn’t just mix in some sci-fi. Of course Wan had to touch upon his horror roots too: “It wouldn’t be one of my films without some of my signature creations,” laughs Wan, “so there are new, dark creatures for audiences to enjoy.”
“By embracing the mythic nature of Aquaman’s quest and combining it with these stunning visuals, James gives us something uniquely compelling—it is worldbuilding and visual storytelling at its zenith,” says Safran. “And at the heart of it, we have a Super Hero that is both human and superhuman, engaging in an epic battle with the highest stakes imaginable.”
Of course, we can’t leave without speaking about Aquaman himself, Jason Momoa, who has wholly embraced this role, and who even has writing credits on its sequel. “At the center of it all is Arthur/Aquaman, along with all of the signature charm and humor Jason infuses into this hero,” Wan says. “Even though Aquaman sits on the throne, responsible for all of Atlantis, he is still a man, working to align his two roles—father and king—into this bold and expansive new world.”
Talking of that new world, with Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom expanding the world and visuals from the first movie, alongside new creatures, new weapons and new behind-the-scenes filmmaking technology, it’s no wonder its filmmakers want you to watch it on the biggest screen possible: “This film really is something you need to experience inside a big theater with a huge screen… because there’s just so much to look at,” says Cowen.
“I think audiences are going to be really taken with the colour of the movie, its scope and the journey we’re going to take them on.”
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is out now on Premium Digital Ownership And Rental and will be available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD on 18 March