Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is a 2023 American superhero film based on the DC character Aquaman. Produced by DC Studios, Atomic Monster, the Safran Company, and Domain Entertainment, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, it is the sequel to Aquaman (2018), and the 15th film and final installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The film was directed by James Wan from a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, and stars Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry / Aquaman, alongside Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Randall Park, Dolph Lundgren, Temuera Morrison, Martin Short, and Nicole Kidman. In the film, Arthur must work with his half-brother Orm (Wilson) to prevent Black Manta (Abdul-Mateen II) from killing his family and using the cursed Black Trident to overheat the world while searching for the lost seventh kingdom of the seas.
Momoa pitched a story for an Aquaman sequel during production of the first film. Wan did not want to rush a sequel but agreed in January 2019 to oversee development. Johnson-McGoldrick signed on to return as screenwriter a month later, and Wan was confirmed to be returning as director in August 2020. He said the film would expand on Aquaman’s worldbuilding, have a more serious tone, and feature themes such as climate change. It is a buddy comedy between Aquaman and Orm, and was inspired by the Silver Age of Comic Books with a retro science fiction vibe similar to the works of animator Ray Harryhausen and the horror films of the 1960s, specifically Planet of the Vampires (1965). Wan announced the sequel’s title in June 2021, ahead of the start of filming at the end of the month. Filming concluded in January 2022, taking place in the United Kingdom, Hawaii, Los Angeles, and New Jersey, with additional filming in New Zealand.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom premiered at a fan event at the Grove, Los Angeles on December 19, 2023, and was released in the United States on December 22. The film received generally negative reviews from critics and has grossed $379 million worldwide.
Four years after becoming king of Atlantis,[a] Arthur Curry has married Mera and had a son, Arthur Jr., while splitting his life between land and sea. Meanwhile, David Kane / Black Manta continues to seek revenge against Arthur for his father’s death, working with marine biologist Stephen Shin to find Atlantean artifacts. He finds a black trident that possesses him, its creator promising to give him the power to destroy Arthur.
Five months later, Manta attacks Atlantis and breaks into its orichalcum reserves to power Shin’s Atlantean machines. Arthur learns that this usage of orichalcum, which emits high quantities of greenhouse gases, has not only raised planetary temperatures and caused extreme weather and ocean acidification but nearly caused a planetary extinction in the past when used by an ancient Atlantean kingdom. To learn where Manta is hiding, Arthur breaks his half-brother Orm out of prison. Information leads them to a volcanic island in the South Pacific, where they stumble across the black trident. Orm learns the trident was created by Kordax, the brother of King Atlan and ruler of the lost kingdom of Necrus. Kordax was imprisoned with blood magic following a failed attempt to usurp the throne. Realizing the blood of any of Atlan’s descendants could release Kordax, the pair learn that Manta has kidnapped Arthur Jr. The Atlanteans, with Shin’s help, determine that Necrus’ prison is located in Antarctica.
In Necrus, Arthur fights Manta and is almost killed before Mera arrives and saves him. Manta throws the black trident at Mera but Orm catches it before it strikes her. The spirit of Kordax leaves Manta for Orm, who, possessed, proceeds to fight Arthur and use Arthur’s blood to free Kordax. Arthur convinces his brother to give up his hatred for him, allowing him to destroy both Kordax and the black trident. With Kordax’s magic vanishing, Necrus starts to collapse. Manta refuses Arthur’s help and allows himself to fall into a fissure. The Atlanteans and Shin escape to safety and decide that Orm has redeemed himself. They plan to inform Atlantis that Orm died on the condition that he remains hidden. Believing the unification of the underwater kingdoms and the surface world is necessary to prevent further damage to the oceans, Arthur reveals Atlantis’ existence through an announcement at the United Nations and declares his intentions of making the kingdom a member state.