Spoiler warning: This post contains spoilers for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is truly so much movie. The film marks the return of Aquaman a.k.a. Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) — who, after ascending to the throne of Atlantis, has to fight off David Kane’s a.k.a. Black Manta’s (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) attack on the undersea kingdom, complete with light necromancy and zombies, a sonic death gun, and a cephalopod sidekick. The adventure takes our hero to the deep sea, a mutant jungle, a parched desert, and Antarctica, and includes themes about global warming and racism (apparently, Atlanteans have extreme prejudice against surface dwellers). The movie has a feeling of finality — not just for the soggy king, but the entire DC Comics onscreen universe as we’ve known it.
Given all that, and especially with Momoa’s future as Aquaman in doubt, was there anything left for Warner Bros. to show in a credits scene? Another adventure, perhaps?
Aquaman 2 has one credits scene, and it’s a callback to one of the movie’s goofy jokes.
In the film, Aquaman has to free his brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) from the Deserters, which involves him breaking into a maximum-security desert jail. (For citizens of Atlantis, being far from water is its own kind of punishment.) The two go on a quest to fight Kane, but not before Aquaman plays a joke on his little brother.
Orm hates the surface world, but Aquaman tells him that his prejudice is limiting his life. Orm’s mindset means missing out on good things like hamburgers, beer, and tacos. Orm begins to soften his view after hearing all these fantastic things — mostly food, mostly alcohol — that his brother can’t stop gushing about. Aquaman then picks up a cockroach and tells his brother that they’re the shrimp of the land and people eat them all the time. Intrigued, Orm gobbles one up and likes the taste, much to Aquaman’s dismay.
The credits scene shows Orm finally enjoying the burger and beer his brother waxed poetic about, but not before a cockroach crawls on the table. Orm crushes the bug, stuffs it into his burger, and takes a big bite. A huge smile stretches over Orm’s face as he savors the taste, and the scene cuts to black.
Obviously, the credits scene is a reference to Orm’s gross taste but also, on a positive note, his openness to rethinking his prejudices and finding beauty in the surface world. It also seems to indicate that this iteration of Aquaman is done.
Usually, credits scenes tease our hero’s next movie. Both Warner Bros. and Marvel have done this quite a bit, introducing superhero teams and even some villains in their movie credits scenes. But for Warner Bros.’ heroes especially, that future looks a little more bleak.
In October, director James Gunn and Peter Safran were named co-chairs and co-chief executive officers of DC Studios — the people in charge of superhero storytelling. When Gunn and Safran were appointed, a cinematic overhaul of the universe was announced with a new slate of projects on the horizon. None of those future projects featured the studio’s existing iterations of its heroes, including Aquaman, Shazam, and the Flash. Since then, the Shazam sequel and the Flash standalone were considered box office bombs, which certainly doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in their future appearances.
With Aquaman 2’s credits scene opting to go for a joke, paired with the movie’s extremely tidy ending and no big bad on the horizon, there’s no tease for Aquaman’s next big adventure — unless it’s all about sharing a burger with his brother.