Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will incorporate elements from a canceled Aquaman spin-off centering on Black Manta and the Trench, demonstrating the trend of recycling canceled superhero movies. This follows in the footsteps of The Flash for DC films in 2023, which used ideas from the scrapped Superman Lives movie by including Nicolas Cage’s version of the Man of Steel. Superhero cinema is evolving with the inclusion of recycled elements, as seen in recent films like Spider-Man: No Way Home, Joker, and The Batman, with each film reusing aspects from previously canceled superhero projects.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will be incorporating elements of a canceled superhero movie into its story, making it the second DCEU film of 2023 to do so. Since the superhero movie craze began properly in the early 2000s, several franchises have been created to varying degrees of success. For every Marvel Cinematic Universe or Fox X-Men franchise, there has been an equal amount of failed franchises like Green Lantern or the various reboots of The Fantastic Four to name but a few.

As such, plenty of superhero projects have been canceled over the last few decades be it movies based on Marvel Comics or DC. Despite this, the success of franchises like the MCU or the DCEU has allowed these canceled franchises to live on in some way, shape, or form. This only seems to be continuing concerning the latter, with Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom‘s trailer – and comments from director James Wan – proving that the upcoming DCEU movie will incorporate elements of a canceled Aquaman spin-off.

Aquaman & The Lost Kingdom Uses Ideas From Black Manta’s Canceled Movie

With the confirmation that Black Manta would be Aquaman 2‘s villain came confirmation that the film will include elements from a canceled Black Manta movie. After Aquaman‘s immense box office success in 2018 which saw the film earn over $1 billion at the worldwide box office, a spin-off centered on the villainous creatures known as the Trench was announced. Aquaman and Aquaman 2 director James Wan was set to produce the film with Noah Gardner and Aidan Fitzgerald writing the script.

Initially, the film was announced as a horror-based spin-off of Aquaman, yet Wan and his team had plans to secretly make the film a Black Manta movie. As reported by Collider, James Wan recently detailed how Aquaman 2 would incorporate these elements into the film’s plot. According to Wan, the Trench spin-off was initially planned to feature Black Manta as the film’s protagonist, which certainly tracks with elements seen in Aquaman 2‘s trailer. Manta seems to be leading dark magic-infused variants of the Trench from Manta’s Black Trident in Aquaman 2​​​​​​, which certainly supports the idea that Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is recycling elements from the canceled film.

The Flash Reused Ideas From Nic Cage’s Canceled Superman Movie

Interestingly, the reused elements from the canceled Black Manta movie mean that Aquaman 2 is the second DC movie to recycle elements from a scrapped project. The other was The Flash, the solo movie based on the titular Scarlet Speedster released in June 2023. The Flash included Nicolas Cage as Superman in the film’s final act, reusing elements from the canceled Superman Lives movie. From Cage portraying Superman to the costume he was seen wearing and the giant spider he was fighting, The Flash took several elements from the unmade Superman Lives film and brought them into DCEU canon.

Aside from The Flash and Aquaman 2, the recycling of canceled superhero movies has become a trend of late. In the early 2000s, director Darren Aronofsky was set to create a year-one Batman film with Joaquin Phoenix as the director’s top choice. Of course, Phoenix ended up playing the Joker in 2019’s Joker, while 2022’s The Batman incorporated a year-one Batman and a suped-up muscle car as the Batmobile as Aronofsky initially planned.

Another instance in which recycled superhero elements have appeared from previously canceled films is Spider-Man: No Way Home. The return of Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire continued the stories of both versions of Spider-Man in the MCU after The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and Spider-Man 4 were canceled, seemingly putting an end to each respective franchise. With the ever-expanding state of superhero cinema, recycled elements from canceled works are becoming more and more common, something proved by Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom and The Flash in 2023 alone.

Key Release Dates

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Joker: Folie a Deux

Superman: Legacy

The Batman – Part II

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