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The DCEU is back baby! Thanks to James Wan’s stellar direction, strong visuals and a compelling albeit cheesy story, Aquaman has fans jumping for joy. I for one enjoyed the living crap out of it, though not quite the classic character from the comics, Momoa’s take on it was entertaining, to say the least. That being said, there were some major plot points that the film borrowed from Aquaman’s New 52 story arc “Throne of Atlantis”. The arc sees Arthur Curry challenge his half-brother, Orm/Ocean Master for the right to rule Atlantis. It also sees Orm amassing an army to destroy the surface world, once and for all. And though, Wan took some creative liberties with the story, reappropriating key elements while dropping others, there is the one character I was carefully watching throughout the film. Somebody I was just waiting to reveal himself to be the true villain behind the whole thing. Surprisingly that revelation never came. Did Wan omit that character’s arc to further streamline the film’s pacing? Or is he saving him for future instalments?
Also, who is that scientist, played by Randall Park, in the post credits scene? And what are his connections with Black Manta and Aquaman? Are you drowning in all these questions? Well, have no fear because we’re gonna take a deep dive into Aquaman’s post credit scene and potential villain for a sequel!
Vulko A Traitor?
Those who are familiar with the “Throne of Atlantis” comics, were no doubt expecting that Willem Dafoe’s character, Vulko to reveal his deception to Aquaman some time in the film. Similar to the film, Vulko was a mentor and advisor to Aquaman after failing to prove Orm killed Arthur’s mother. In an effort to get Aquaman to claim his throne, he orchestrated the entire Atlantean war by hiring Black Manta to steal an Atlantean artefact and calling the Trench to attack both Aquaman and Ocean Master. In a sick, twisted sort of way, he did it because he believed in Arthur Curry. Arthur wasn’t too flattered however and so he placed Vulko on trial for war crimes. It’s possible that Vulko continues to be a loyal subject to Aquaman within his future instalments but then again, he is played by Willem Dafoe. And beyond The Florida Project, he isn’t exactly known for playing nice guy roles. It’s just not his thing.
It’s my best bet that in the sequel, Aquaman would neglect his duties as King of Atlantis to be a hero and ambassador in the surface world. Atlantis would be divided with their king having to balance his loyalty to his kingdom with the human nations. Some believing that their king does not have their best interest at heart. So in order to have Arthur finally choose a side, he (much like his comic counterpart) triggers a full-scale war between mankind and the Atlanteans. And he could even employ the aid of Black Manta to serve his ends. We know writer Geoff Johns, the man behind “Throne of Atlantis”, co-wrote the story for Aquaman. It would make sense that he’d pull a villain from the existing Aquaman mythos he built. Furthermore, Aquaman’s stories have always entailed shifting alliances and dynastic struggles. In fact, recently Orm worked with Mera to defeat Aquaman’s usurper, Corum Rath before claiming the throne for herself!
I know, I know it seems like a lot to go on given that the DCEU hasn’t even been properly mapped out yet. But as of now, if I had to bet on who would be the villain in the next Aquaman film, I’d most definitely go all in on Willem Dafoe’s Vulko breaking bad. There’s just something fishy about the guy.
Post Credit Scene And Stephen Shin
In the post-credits scene of Aquaman, we see scientist and conspiracy theorist, Stephen Shin pulling an injured Black Manta out of the water. He is then seen tinkering with his helmet and accidentally setting off Manta’s plasma blast. After a brief conversation, both seem to have reached a mutual agreement to find Aquaman. Though, both have very distinct reasons for doing so. Shin, like his comic book version, wishes to study the Atlantean while Manta is out for blood. Aquaman’s version of Shin seems to be a little-aged down from his more elderly comic counterpart.
In the comics, Shin was a friend of Aquaman’s father, Thomas Curry. When Arthur’s Atlantean traits started manifesting, Thomas brought him to meet Shin. While he has remained an ally to the underwater warrior for years, Arthur does worry about his obsession over Atlantis. After facing ridicule from the scientific community, Shin is desperate to prove himself a credible researcher. In 2011’s “Aquaman: The Trench” issue #3, Aquaman brings a Trench creature to be examined by Shin and the disgraced scientist is more than willing to help. However, when Arthur doesn’t allow him to keep the creature, Shin desperately tries to get Aquaman to have him keep it. When asked by Mera with regards to Shin, Arthur tells her “He could be a very dangerous man. But for now just a sad one.” Fun fact, that issue was also written by Geoff Johns.
Could Shin be a possible threat to Arthur in future films? I mean, he seems harmless enough in Aquaman but perhaps his desperation could push him to make some very bad decisions. Like perhaps…help Vulko trigger a war with mankind to prove he’s right or help one bloodthirsty Black Manta! On the other end of the spectrum, I could see him becoming a friend to Aquaman and Mera. A sort of Jacob Kowalski if you will in Atlantis. The actor playing Shin, Randall Park is no stranger to comic book films. In this year’s Ant-Man and the Wasp he played a parole officer who was a sort of frenemy to Scott Lang/Ant-Man. It’s not impossible to imagine that he’d be one to Aquaman as well.
The future of Aquaman might seem a tad uncertain but there’s no denying its present success. A lot of people are really taking to it, including our resident critic Dash. One of the reasons it did so well was because of its fully realized world teeming with unique creatures and characters. We look forward to seeing how Dafoe and Park’s characters will be used in future instalments. Be sure to keep up with us for more DCEU and Aquaman news.
And if you’d like to talk movies with me, you can hit me up here: @cinesam