If Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom were a song, it might be Nickelback’s How You Remind Me. The Canadian rock band delivered an ersatz, MTV-friendly grunge-style anthem the best part of a decade after the early 90s genre had lost all of its grit and vitality. The superhero sequel arrives with the entire comic book universe in which it once existed having been subject to a major reset after James Gunn took the reins of the newly rebranded DC Universe. Arthur Curry’s old mucker Batfleck is probably gone forever (though there are reports that both he and Michael Keaton’s dark knight shot scenes for the film) and Ezra Miller’s Flash has reset the multiverse so violently that it would hardly be surprising to learn that Krypto the Superdog is going to be the new head of the Justice League and Dumb Bunny has risen to the mantle of Queen of Themyscira.

Put simply then, the Lost Kingdom is a superhero movie out of time, desperately vying to keep us interested when even the men in suits have decided the game is up and punters aren’t interested any more. Perhaps this is why the debut trailer for the film, which debuted this week, feels as if director James Wan and his team have been sitting in the editing room for three years telling the design team to keep going to make it really feel like an event.

On the surface, this is a movie that looks capable of knocking everyone’s head off with eye-popping, supercharged underwater pixel bombs. There are megatastic fantasy beasties from the depths, Lord of the Rings-style flashback slo-mo battles, ornate and spectacular aqua-mech. But there’s also a sense that if Wan et al really had something to show off about, they would have held back the big water guns until we got the chance to see the actual film. Or at least gone for something a little more subtle.

Instead there’s a well-worn comic book movie framing, the superhero bromance, in place. Aquaman and his kingdom are under threat from the evil Black Manta, so our hero bizarrely decides to team up with the baddie from the last, inexplicably popular movie, Patrick Wilson’s Orm (also his half-brother). Squint a bit and across the great comic book divide it’s possible to hear the languid screams of Marvel’s Thor and Loki, twisting in their future graves.

You’ve probably worked out by now that I’m struggling to work up much enthusiasm for this one. There are unconfirmed rumours that people walked out of test screenings, prompting numerous reshoots. Wan has denied these were extensive. Perhaps the final movie will make sense of the miserable end of the DC extended universe and segue ingeniously into Gunn’s brave new reality. But from what Wan has been saying in recent interviews, it sounds like he had little interest in taking notes from the Marvel alumnus. “The tricky thing early on was not knowing whether Aquaman would come out first or come out after [The Flash]. So, we just had to be prepared,” the film-maker told Variety. “At the end of the day, the best thing I would say about this movie is that it is not connected in any way to any of those films. That’s the bottom line.”

Many fans will be looking forward to seeing Aquaman 2 on the basis that we might just catch glimpses of a brighter, Gunn-led DC future. It looks like we are probably going to end up disappointed.

 On the surface the forthcoming sequel looks capable of knocking everyone’s head off, but rumours of reshoots and walkouts suggest otherwise  Read More