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"Atlantis always had a king. Now it needs something more."

"A war is coming to the surface whether you like it or not. And I'm bringing the wrath of the Seven Seas with me."
Orm / Ocean Master
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Aquaman is a 2018 movie based off the DC Comics superhero of the same name, directed by James Wan. It is the sixth movie to be set in the DC Extended Universe.

Following the events of Justice League, Arthur Curry / Aquaman (Jason Momoa), the son of Queen Atlanna of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman) and the lighthouse keeper Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison), sets out to claim his birthright as ruler of the underwater kingdom, with the help of Mera (Amber Heard) in order to prevent his half-brother king Orm (Patrick Wilson) from invading the surface.

The cast also includes Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as David Kane/Black Manta, Michael Beach as Jesse Kane, Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko, Dolph Lundgren as King Nereus, Ludi Lin as Murk and Randall Park as Dr. Stephen Shin.

The film was released on December 21, 2018. A sequel soon entered development, and Wan and most of the cast are expected to return. Warner Bros. also started developing a spinoff, titled The Trench, based on the titular undersea kingdom seen in the film, which is planned to be styled more as a horror movie.

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Previews: Trailer 1, Trailer 2, Final Trailer.


Aquaman contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Tridents and swords made of Atlantean steel can go through ultra-dense Atlantean flesh and even Atlantean power armour like it was nothing, to say nothing of tech made by surface-dwellers.
  • Achilles' Heel: Only high-born Atlanteans are capable of breathing air, so disrupting a rank-and-file Atlantean soldier's Mobile Fishbowl will suffocate them. While not taken advantage of, it's also shown several times that even those who can breathe air may need an adjustment period when separated from water suddenly; both Orm and Atlanna have to cough up the water still in their lungs before they can start breathing air.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Arthur and his dad enjoying a quiet drink in a bar after he finishes with Black Manta's pirates.
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  • Actor Allusion: When Arthur wakes up on the boat that Mera "borrowed," he is lying on his back, with his hair in a tight bun and beard wet, (and appearing closely trimmed), bringing shades of Khal Drogo, even sporting a wound in the same place as the "scratch" that ultimately felled Drogo.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: After Vulko orders his arrest and repeats Orm's previous line about putting him "somewhere with a view", Orm can't help but smile.
  • Adaptation Amalgamation: Just like Wonder Woman, Aquaman draws inspiration from both the New 52 and Golden and Silver Age comics.
    • The story of Arthur and Orm fighting over the throne is lifted from the Throne of Atlantis storyline and its animated adaptation.
    • Arthur himself is based on primarily on his down-to-earth hero like in New 52 with a few OUTRAGEOUS! characteristics pertaining of his Batman: The Brave and the Bold counterpart. He wears his traditional orange and green costume though his long hair and beard recall his Justice League incarnation.
    • Black Manta's costume has both the exaggerated proportions of his classic look and the more tactical design akin to his appearance in Young Justice.
  • Adaptation Displacement: In-universe, Aquaman appears to have no idea Pinocchio was a book before it was a film.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Aquaman's Atlantean name, Orin, isn't used for this setting, with him going by his birth name of Arthur Curry, which sticks even as he's crowned King of Atlantis.
    • Black Manta is given the name David Kane while in the comics his last name is Hyde.
    • Mera has Only One Name in the comics, but here she is given the full name of Y'Mera Xebella Challa.
    • The Fishermen are the comicbook Tritonians given the name of an obscure Aquaman villain from the comics.
  • Advertised Extra: Ricou, the king of the Fishermen, featured in the Comic Con 2018 poster and in the first released stills of the film. He is a king so he might have some importance and thus significant screentime, right? He gets killed by Orm less than a minute after the start of his scene.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Well not aliens, but still we are never shown a spoken language dedicated to the underwater worlds besides those written. All underwater beings capable of speech speak in English.
  • The Alliance: This is the goal Orm is planning to achieve: unite the surviving nations of Atlantis. He mostly does this so he can have manpower to destroy the surface and is willing to do anything, down to committing regicide and invading a nation, if it means that he can gain others' loyalty. After deposing him, Arthur receives recognition from the four surviving Atlantean kingdoms, thus finally uniting Atlantis.
  • Almost Kiss: Arthur and Mera lean in to kiss after discovering the last clue pointing to the location of the Trench. Then Black Manta and the Atlantean commando he leads open fire and show up.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The opening shows how Arthur's parents met, conceived him, and eventually separated. We get to see the young Arthur in an aquarium and later in the film through flashbacks.
  • Amplifier Artifact: The Trident of Atlan supercharges Arthur's ability to speak to sea creatures when he claims it allowing him to command the Karathen, the Atlantean army's own shark-mounts, and even The Trench.
  • Ancestral Weapon: It's revealed that the trident (or quindent technically, with five prongs) that Aquaman used in Justice League originally belonged to his mother, and specifically her family line. Orm duels Arthur using a different style of trident, said to belong to his father. The core mission of the movie is about Arthur finding the Trident of Atlan, the last king of Atlantis before the sinking, and which is said only the true heir to the throne can retrieve and wield.
  • And Starring: Nicole Kidman gets the honored slot in the credits.
  • Animalistic Abomination: The creatures of the Trench. Believe it or not, they are actually a branch of the original Atlanteans, but evolved in the deep seas to become... different.
  • Apparently Human Merfolk: The people of Atlantis and Xebel are basically humans who adapted to underwater life.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: News casters and commentators openly mock Dr. Shin's belief in Atlantis in a world that has suffered two separate alien invasions, knows there's an Amazon-goddess around, has seen the rise of metahumans and had come under attack from an evil goddess, even ignoring Shin pointing out there's an actual world-famous Atlantean living among them.
  • Arranged Marriage:
    • Atlanna with King Orvax, which was the reason why she escaped to the surface many years ago. She conceived Orm from this relationship, although it's worth noting that she had him after she was forced to go home.
    • Mera is betrothed to Orm as a further incentive to seal Atlantis and Xebel's alliance. The two do not have affection for each other otherwise, and when Mera betrays him by saving Arthur from the Ring of Fire, he orders for her execution.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: During the first duel between Arthur and Orm, Arthur's display describes his cons as being a surface dweller, a half breed... and a drunk.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Whales, dolphins (including orcas), and sea turtles are air breathers that can't survive too long deep underwater without coming to the surface for air. Unless those all about Atlantis had been adapted to living permanently underwater the same way the Atlanteans had been.
  • Artistic License – Geology:
    • The various instances of Lava Adds Awesome and Lethal Lava Land underwater. It doesn't quite react to water the same way as it does in reality (namely, cooling, solidifying and releasing gas much faster than in the surface).
    • Oceanic trenches in the Mediterranean.
  • Artistic License – History: The destruction of the original Atlantean kingdom and King Atlan’s self-imposed exile are shown to predate the desertification of the Sahara, placing them well over 6,000 years ago, before human recorded history. However, the statue in Sicily that figures into King Atlan’s clue to find the Trident, depict Romulus, the founder of Rome, who would have lived in the 8th century BC.
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • Same kind of problem as the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Iron Man: being encased in a metal suit wouldn't offer David Kane/Black Manta any protection from the damage he'd take from simple inertia from his fall down a cliff. If this was real life, he would be dead.
    • In the underwater action scenes, things that are hit or thrown go flying as if the water provides no more drag than air. An object traveling through water without propulsion should decelerate very quickly.
  • Ascended Meme: A longtime rebuttal to Aquaman's perceived lameness is that he could command Cthulhu if the two were in the same setting. This movie includes a Kaiju with tentacles dwelling in a lost underwater city, who ends up helping Arthur in great part because he's the only one that is able to converse with it.
  • As You Know: Orm greets Nereus with a history lesson about the seven kingdoms and the height of their power and unity that Nereus should probably already know since he's a fellow king. Nereus fires back with another exposition dump about how Orm uniting at least the four kingdoms will grant him the title of "Ocean Master."
  • Atlantis: Hundreds of years ago, Atlantis was a united nation. Then the place sank, forcing the survivors to adapt to the changing environment, and six additional kingdoms arose aside from Atlantis proper:
    • Xebel, who closely resemble the original Atlanteans and seem to be their close ally.
    • The Fishermen, who have evolved into merfolk.
    • The Brine, dwelling in a volcanic region and have evolved into a crustacean species.
    • The Trench, now devolved into an Always Chaotic Evil species that both Atlantis and Xebel fight against.
    • The Deserters, now extinct, and had occupied to what became the Sahara when their kingdom dried up.
    • The Missing.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Though Aquaman's skin is too dense to be pierced by ordinary steel weapons, after Black Manta stabs him with an Atlantean steel blade, he then stabs him in the wound with his ancestral dagger, which is extremely painful.
  • Audible Sharpness: Black Manta has one justified use of this trope in the sword he hides in his gauntlet, since said gauntlet is made of metal and plastic instead of the usual soft materials. He also plays this straight with his grandfather's knife, unsheathing and resheathing it audibly when its scabbard is made of black leather.
  • Award-Bait Song: “Everything I Need”.
  • Awesome Underwater World: Luminous cities, giant seahorses, mosasaurs, mermaids—it's no wonder that when Arthur first visits Atlantis, all he can do for the first few minutes is gawk.
  • Backstab Backfire: Jesse Kane tries to shoot Aquaman in the back with a grenade launcher after Aquaman decided to spare him. The hero sidesteps the shot and the explosion pins Jesse under debris in a flooding room. Since Jesse wasted the second chance he had been given, Aquaman leaves him to die.
  • Badass Boast: The Brine King rallying his troops before leading them into battle.
    Brine King: We will not bow to Atlantis! We'll give them a fight that they'll never forget!
  • Badass Normal: Black Manta is a normal human wielding some exotic weapons, and manages to hold his own reasonably against Arthur even though his weapons were inefficient. In a rematch, utilizing repurposed Atlantean armor and tech given to him specifically to hunt down Arthur, he manages to deal some real harm.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When a rough-looking gang of biker dudes approach Arthur at the bar, it seems they're about to challenge him to a fight. It turns out they just want him to pose for some selfies with them.
  • Bar Brawl: Subverted; a pack of bikers accost Arthur at the bar, and Arthur prepares for a fight, but they just want a picture.
  • Barehanded Blade Block:
    • One of the pirates hijacking the submarine attacks Aquaman with a sword, and he blocks the blade with his bare hands, then breaks it.
    • Done the traditional way with a non-bladed weapon, even: part of Vulko's training of Arthur to use the quindent/polearms involved him throwing them and expecting Arthur to catch them on reflex.
  • Battle in the Rain: The final duel between Arthur/Aquaman and Orm happens on the surface and in the rain.
  • Beast of Battle:
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Mera is the obvious example but Arthur also qualifies. He suffers stab wounds and plasma burns, but his skin remains beautifully unmarred once they heal.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: Orm motivated by a quest for power and Black Manta motivated by vengeance. However, Black Manta has a relatively minor role, with the focus being on Orm.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: When David Kane and Arthur first meet, David tries to present himself as an archenemy, but Arthur doesn’t take the encounter seriously, and asks him not to make it a habit to cross paths. When David’s father tries to kill Arthur after he was intending to just walk away, he leaves them for dead, but David escapes. Later on, Orm gives David Atlantean gear to even the odds against Arthur, but he still loses. The Stinger reveals that David survived his second encounter with Arthur, and is still seeking to avenge his father.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Aquaman showing up in the middle of the Final Battle, riding Karathen, and putting an end to it by controlling the creatures of the sea with the trident.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Arthur and Mera have one during the final battle. Immediately turns into an Orbital Kiss with explosions and submarine fire in the background.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Which Black Manta wields in conjunction with a regular sword.
  • Bland-Name Product: the "Boston Aquarium," where Arthur first telepathically communicates with marine life, is an Expy for the New England Aquarium.
  • Book-Ends: The movie begins and ends with a narration from Arthur which begin with "My father was a lighthouse keeper. My mother was a queen."
  • Body Wipe: Used many times during Time Skip transitions or flashbacks. Examples include the camera entering the ocean waters only to end up in the waters of an aquarium.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Arthur has this written all over him, in large letters and bold face, for much of the film, as he cracks jokes and really seems to enjoy most of his fights. Only during the most plot-critical battles does he get serious and drop this attitude. It's no coincidence that Aquaman (the cartoon version) provides the trope illustration.
  • Boring Return Journey: We aren't shown how Arthur and Mera got out of an underground chamber hundreds of feet below the Sahara Desert and made their way to Sicily.
  • Brick Joke: While running away from Orm and his men, Arthur and Mera hide inside the mouth of a whale, the former picking the idea from Pinocchio. Mera obviously has no idea what he means until they are in Italy where she finds out it is a children book, though Arthur seemingly doesn't know there's a book about it, getting the idea from the movie instead.
  • Bullying a Dragon: A subverted example occurs when a group of bikers at a local bar see Arthur with his father and it seems they are about to challenge the "fish boy from the TV" to a fight. However, it turns out that they just really want to take selfies with him as he's considered the local hero.
  • Cain and Abel: Aquaman and Ocean Master are half brothers and they come to blows. Orm is the villain and Cain of the pair. He initially states that he would rather avoid the fight, but later both fights his brother and hires a mercenary to murder Arthur, something he can't do openly because of the promise he's made to an ally. Yet when he shoots the ship with Arthur down and believes his brother dead, he is not happy about it.
  • The Cameo:
    • The Brine King is voiced by John Rhys-Davies for his few lines of dialogue.
    • The Karathen is voiced by Julie Andrews.
    • The airplane pilot who takes Arthur and Mera to the Sahara is played by longtime James Wan collaborator Leigh Whannell.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Ceiling Smash:
    • Aquaman throws a mook into the interior ceiling of a submarine.
    • Arthur's mother, Atlanna, has a fight in a flashback sequence in which she takes out a group of mooks in her home. At one point, she stabs one of them with her quindent and slams him into the door frame above them.
    • During Arthur's fight with Black Manta in Italy, he grabs Manta by the shoulders and whips him into the ceiling of the house they just crashed into.
  • Celebrity Paradox: See here.
  • Central Theme:
    • Don't judge a place you've never been to.
    • There's also a lot of emphasis on familial bonds, with even the villains showing that they care about their relatives.
    • The three main characters (Aquaman, Orm and Black Manta) are all dealing with the emotional fallout of a parent's premature death.
  • Chandler's Law: Dialogue scenes in this movie have a tendency to get cut off by explosions, which progress the plot.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Vulko's spinning defensive maneuver against a regular trident/quindent attack was later employed by Aquaman himself in his final duel with Ocean Master.
    • Arthur's ability to talk to undersea creatures as shown in one of his opening scenes ends up being an almost ludicrously powerful ability when we get to see just what kind of monsters dwell in the deep, including the Trench and especially the karathen.
    • The blade-catch that Vulko taught Arthur is an inversion, as he employed it against his future arch-nemesis before we get a flashback of him learning it.
  • The Chosen One: Atlanna, Mera and Vulko are certain that Arthur is the rightful king of Atlantis and inheritor of the Trident of Atlan, the first king. Arthur has no interest, but recognizes the danger posed to the surface world if he doesn't intervene. It turns out his ability to talk to sea life is the crux of why he is the chosen one, as Atlan also had that power and with the trident that ability is amplified.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Defied hard.
    • Arthur's exploits earned him the "Aquaman" name as a folk hero epithet, which he comes to accept by the end.
    • The title of "Manta" is apparently a Red Baron earned by the Kane pirate family, which becomes David's basis for his "Black Manta" callsign.
    • Even the positively cheesy title "Ocean Master" is apparently a traditional Atlantean title anyone can claim if they have enough political and military clout, which Orm, not unjustifiably, has gained.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Contrived Coincidence: A message from king Atlan to his people is lost for millennia... but an archaeological dig finds it just in time for Arthur to use to locate the Trident and dethrone Orm.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: The fact that you have two underwater Atlanteans who are at war with each other commanding sharks with laser beams, mosasauruses, underwater sea monsters, and advanced Magitek already counts as this before you factor in the guy with a Powered Armor that has Eye Beams.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: A number of the Aquaman comic stories fall into the spectrum, and the movie deals with a number of bizarre creatures of the deepest parts of the ocean that are featured in said comics. James Wan introduced his involvement with the movie with a quote by H. P. Lovecraft:
    "For ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of time."
  • Cue the Sun: At the end of the Final Battle, after Arthur subdues Orm but decides to spare him rather than finish him off, the storm stops and the sun rises just as Atlanna arrives.
  • Create Your Own Villain: While David Kane was already a pirate and mercenary, Arthur ignored a hypocritical plea for help to rescue his father (he already spared his life and advised him to leave, Jesse fired a wayward grenade which caused him to get trapped and fill the room with water), which turned the enmity personal and led directly to Kane becoming Black Manta dedicated to getting revenge. Arthur himself realizes this later in the movie, indicating regret given that as a reason he is not King material.
  • Creator Thumbprint: The camera spinning along with a character getting flipped technique that was used by James Wan in Furious 7 shows up here as well.
  • Defiant to the End: The Brine King, who boldly refuses to swear allegiance to Orm even at trident-point.
  • Delayed Reaction: The crowd attending the duel between Orm and Aquaman is reached by an underwater shockwave caused by the combatants colliding, then everyone turns at each other to process what just happened. Then they all cheer.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Mera displays some "creative" driving while escaping the Atlantean capital, evading fire from pursuing ships and the perimeter hydrocannons in such a way that Arthur freaks out for the first time in the movie.
  • Doomed Predecessors: The cave in which King Atlan's trident can be found is littered with the skeletal remains of those who were foolish enough to come there — they were all killed by Karathen. Then Arthur came in, and earned the trident by proving his worth to Karathen.
  • The Dragon: Captain Murk is this to Orm as the commander of his elite guard.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Arthur becomes the ruler of Atlantis, with Mera at his side, and is revered by the seven nations as not only a king, but also a hero. Having regained the lost Trident of Atlan, he now commands the loyalty of every being of the sea. He is also able to save Atlanna from the Hidden Sea and arranges for her reunion with Thomas.
  • Elite Mook: The red armored Atlantean soldiers, mentioned as Orm's Praetorian Guard but end up closer to this trope with the number of times they're out in the field.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: Black Manta and his mooks chase Arthur and Mera across rooftops, bursting through walls and blasting structures in their attempts to kill them.
  • Establishing Character Moment: At a bar drinking with his father, Arthur is approached by rough looking characters seeming to mock him as "fish boy." Ready for a fight, they instead ask him for a selfie. He begrudgingly agrees, and a series of further selfies show that they partied together the rest of the day. Arthur is rough around the edges, but he means well and knows how to makes friends.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Orm loved his mother, Atlanna, dearly. Her execution for leaving her arranged engagement to Orm's father and having a relationship with a surface-dweller, Thomas Curry, devastated and haunted him to the present day. This is the main reason why he despises his half-brother, Arthur, as he sees him as a reminder of the cause of her death. All it takes is Atlanna interfering with his second fight against Arthur to make him surrender gracefully instead of begging for death.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The Hidden Sea at the earth's core is populated by prehistoric beasts. Orm also has a mosasaur that he rides into battle.
  • Excalibur in the Rust: Played with. The MacGuffin of the film, the Trident of Atlan, is indeed kept and exposed to the marine elements for millennia—together with the armor of King Atlan which is still worn by his corpse. Curiously enough, the moment Arthur finally takes the Trident for himself, it's still looking as pristine as ever. It is the armor, however, which has visibly been weathered. And yet, the moment he finally steps out and having taken the power of Atlan for himself, even the armor looks newly-minted.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: A location variant. After being told about the Ring of Fire, Arthur assumes that the tiny room with a ring of lava will be where he and Orm fight and chuckles accordingly. Turns out the room is actually a kind of ready room for the real Ring of Fire: a giant stadium with hundreds of spectators coming to watch Orm kick his half-breed brother's ass.
    Arthur: Shit.
    • It turns out that this partially comes into effect with the crowd as well. They came expecting to see a clear cut execution. But once they realized that Arthur was no push-over, they were on their feetnote .
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Mera is trying to convince Nereus that Orn faked the submarine attack to get him to go to war and as she's pointing out he's not naive enough to believe the False Flag Operation she realizes that no, no he isn't. He's going along with Orm because he wanted an excuse to attack the surface as well.
  • Expressive Mask: Orm's starfish styled helmet matches his expressions.
  • False Flag Operation: Orm secretly bought David Kane's services and instructed him to attack the Council of the Kings during his meeting with King Nereus, which he accomplished with an empty remote-controlled military submarine, thus instigating their alliance. Ultimately subverted as Nereus saw right through the ruse, but pretended to have fallen for it as he also wanted to attack the surface world.
  • Fantastic Racism: Despite being descendants of surface humans, many Atlanteans (especially the main kingdom and the Xebel Kingdom) regard the humans of the surface with blatant disdain, seeing them as inferior and unworthy of respect or discourse. This view is only bolstered by the massively increased pollution from the surface world over the course of the last century, though rather than reaching out to let other humans know they are being harmed (or to share whatever technology allows Atlanteans to be be so eco-friendly), the Atlanteans instead decide that the surface humans must "learn their place" (despite most of humanity not even knowing the Atlanteans exist). Possibly averted with the Fishermen Kingdom, whose king at least seemed open to talking with and educating the surface humans, though only when his people decided it was time to do so.
  • Fiery Redhead: Mera is certainly spirited and determined. Quote Arthur after she jumps out of a plane, that was still in flight, over a desert: "Redheads, gotta love 'em".
  • Final Battle: Interestingly, the film's main hero doesn't take part in it on the ground alongside a particular side, and rather comes in to end it. More specifically, Aquaman shows up riding Karathen. Karathen's arrival surely does some damage to the Brine army, but Aquaman has no specific connection to them and primarily attacks Orm's army with creatures of the sea to stop his folly.
  • Fish People: When the original Atlantis fell, the Atlanteans had to adapt to the harsh environment of the sea. While the inhabitants of the new Atlantis and Xebel merely became Apparently Human Merfolk, others, like the Fishermen and the Brine, evolved into more fish or crustacean-like forms. With the exception of the Trench folk, however, they can still speak coherently.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • On Thomas' Living-Room table is a paperback entitled "The Dunwich Horror" written by one H. P. Lovecraft, infamous for writing Cosmic Horror pulp fiction about hordes of hideous flesh-eating Fish-Men and Skyscraper-Sized Giant Demon Gods rising out the ocean depths writhing with tentacles...and sure enough, Arthur meets both on his epic quest to find Atlan's trident.
      • However, even more relevant to the plot of the film is that the main focus of "The Dunwich Horror" is tale of two brothers with strange parents, one of whom is trying to unlock ancient occult secrets.
    • You'll notice that Atlanna vomits up water once she comes to in Thomas's house, foreshadowing Mera incapacitating Orm by sticking him into an air bubble and also forcing him to expunge water from his lungs.
    • Thomas, being a lighthouse keeper (with a broken television) has time to be well read. He likens Atlanna's story to King Arthur and chooses that name for his son. He also sees that Arthur gets education from the land beyond what is taught in school. This foreshadows both the Pinocchio thing and his knowledge of ancient Roman kings.
    • Arthur's ability to talk to sea creatures appears to be a rare ability even among Alantean as Mera has never heard of anyone doing it before. According to legend, the only other person who had such ability was King Atlan himself, meaning only those with this ability are able to wield the Trident to its fullest potential.
  • Forging Scene: Rare villainous version with David Kane re-engineering the Atlantean tech to create the Black Manta suit.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The "tale of the tape"-style stats on Arthur and Orm before their Circle of Fire duel go by too fast to read completely, but include amusing tidbits, such as saying that Arthur is "drunk".
  • Gaia's Vengeance: During the final battle, Arthur's power to command with marine life is enhanced by Atlan's trident and he uses it to command all aquatic life in the vicinity (including the Trench) to attack the Atlantean army.
  • Genre-Busting: It's not easy tacking a genre on this movie outside of the broad descriptors of "superhero" / "comic book movie". It takes influence from classic adventure movies, fantasy, science fiction and sea stories, all rolled into one.
  • Genre Throwback:
    • To the old school adventure films James Wan is a fan of, with Raiders of the Lost Ark and Romancing the Stone being two frequent comparisons; the middle stretch of the film is where this influence is most strong felt, with the two bickering heroes going on a globetrotting trip, hunting clues and digging through ancient artifacts while fighting pirates and sea monsters in an attempt to get to an old treasure.
    • More broadly, the story is basically The Hero's Journey invoking the Arthurian legend with the trident of Atlan in place of the sword in the stone.
  • Genuine Human Hide: The rare good guy example, Queen Atlanna fought her way through the Trench and into a lost world where she was marooned for 20 years. To survive she used what she could get her hands on, including the skin of a Trench.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Arthur is a folk hero to some but doesn't always make the best impression.
  • Good Parents:
    • Both Atlanna and Thomas love each other and Arthur deeply, even if the world is doing their best to separate them.
    • Nereus specifically asks Orm's clemency to spare Mera after she betrayed them. In the climax, despite initially being on opposite sides, they are clearly on speaking terms.
    • A villainous example, Jesse and David Kane have a deep bond as a father and son. When the former dies, the latter goes into full Roaring Rampage of Revenge mode.
    • Atlanna also loves Orm as much as she does Arthur and did not want to see one kill the other. Orm's better qualities are likely the result of her influence, and her disappearance clearly devastated him even now.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: While Mera is no slouch when it comes to hand-to-hand combat, Aquaman tends to take on most of his fights head on while Mera specializes in her water-based powers.
  • Hailfire Peaks: The Brine is located in what looks to be an underwater volcanic region.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Everyone in Atlantis, with the exception of Vulko and, of course, Atlanna, look down on Arthur for his half-human heritage, although Mera eventually gets better after spending enough time with him on the surface.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Arthur Curry can talk to fish, an ability oft-mocked on a meta level and in-universe by Batman. In a case of Ascended Meme, this ability is required to overcome the Karathen, and earn its loyalty.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Black Manta's every appearance in armor is accompanied by an ominous metallic buzzing noise, aptly titled "The Black Manta" on the soundtrack.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Played with. Helmeted Atlanteans (especially the commandos), for the most part, are definitely antagonistic compared to Arthur and Mera. Black Manta himself adheres to this trope closely. However, even Arthur wore a helmet during his ritualistic duel with Orm, and even Orm could be read as a quite a Well-Intentioned Extremist at first. It's not until he wears his iconic Ocean Master helm that his megalomania becomes plain to see.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: After their encounter with Black Manta, Mera steals a boat from the marina, thinking that it was for civilian use. Presumably this boat had its keys available for stealing by accident.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: "Redheads, gotta love 'em" says Arthur while traveling with Mera.
  • Hidden Depths: For his gruff and boisterous exterior, Arthur has a surprisingly-cosmopolitan understanding of the world and other things—including, of all things, Roman history. Which actually becomes a useful thing later on his quest.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Atlantis from the perspective of the surface.
  • The High King: A king who controls all kingdoms of the seven seas (save for the Trench) will hold the title "Ocean Master". Orm (briefly) holds the title by the final battle, before being upstaged by Arthur, who commands authority over the seas, including the previously untouchable Trench and Karathen.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Mostly the Kanes when dealing with Aquaman.
    • Jesse Kane fights Arthur with a huge gun that shoots grenade inside a submarine. Arthur evades one of the rounds which instead breaches the hull and causes Jesse to get pinned by a torpedo he can't lift while the submarine sinks. His son tries to beg the super-strong Arthur to save him, but Arthur isn't inclined to rescue the man who killed numerous submariners and just tried to shoot him.
    • Black Manta's targeting system gets damaged in his fight against Arthur in Sicily, and when Arthur throws two spherical concrete stumps and the chain barrier connecting them at him like bolas, those entangle around his neck and helmet as he's about to shoot and the plasma beam backfires in his face.
  • Hollow World: Arthur and Mera are forced to travel through the Kingdom of the Trench in order to find the Hidden Sea, which is said in subtitles to be at the Earth's core. From what is depicted, there are surface-level conditions resembling a lagoon, with glowing crystal providing light similar to the sun, but past a waterfall is another space where the Trident of Atlan resides along with the Karathen guarding it.
  • Hollywood Healing: Arthur is hurt rather badly in his second fight with Black Manta, with several stab wounds and his forearms burned from a plasma cannon, and he collapses in Mera's arms. He wakes some time later with what looks like seaweed bandages completely healed (even his tattoo's are untouched). It's not expressly stated that he has a Healing Factor, but it could have helped.
  • Homage: Arthur's journey visibly takes a lot of cues from his namesake King Arthur.
    • Aquaman's status as a half-breed harkens King Arthur's parentage from opposing warbands. In fact, it was stated Thomas Curry gave him his name as a reference to Atlanna's status as royal exile.
    • In the middle of the film, Arthur experiencing massive injuries from a fight with Black Manta (a villain he had a hand in creating) is near-similar to King Arthur's Mutual Kill with Mordred.
    • He recuperates while being cared for by Mera on a boat going to the Hidden Seas—much like the dead King Arthur's body being led to Avalon.
    • The Trident of Atlan is Excalibur's equivalent, with the Karathen acting as The Lady of The Lake, a powerful aquatic entity guarding the weapon, and being the one who gives Arthur the chance to try and use it.
    • Finally, the "hour of greatest need" prophecy was accomplished when Aquaman, newly-possessed of the Trident of Atlan, breaks up the Atlantean Civil War instigated by Orm/Ocean Master. Subtlety is thrown out of the window when Mera, presenting him to the assembled Atlantean host, does not address him by any Atlantean name (like his original comics name Orin), but King Arthur.
  • Homefield Advantage: Arthur and Orm's two fights against each other show this. When they fight each other underwater, Orm completely dominates Arthur thanks to being accustomed to aquatic combat unlike Arthur. When Arthur brings the fight out of the ocean in the finale he gets the upper hand against Orm, who isn't used to fighting on the surface.
  • Horse of a Different Color: The Atlanteans commonly ride many types of sea creatures, including sharks, seahorses, some even ride prehistoric sea monsters. Mera is seen riding an orca in battle.
  • Humans Are Bastards:
    • Orm wants war on humanity as retribution for polluting the oceans. Not just Orm, in fact; most Atlanteans, including Mera at first, do not have a positive view on humans because they perceive their habit of polluting as a threat to both worlds.
    • Mera lists a myriad of how humans have messed up their world, from cities that create "mountains of trash", right down to smoking factories. Arthur insists they're not all like that, and Mera warms up to humans when in Sicily, eventually.
  • I Have No Son!: Mera tells Arthur that her betrayal of Orm will lead to even her father rejecting her, because she committed treason. Subverted, though: when Orm sends troops after her and Arthur, Nereus insists on her not being killed, because she's still his daughter.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The Atlantean mooks that invade Thomas and Atlanna's home can't seem to land a shot on Atlanna, even when she's standing still.
  • Improvised Weapon: Arthur rips out two spherical concrete stumps and the chain barrier connecting them and uses it as a killer bolas against Black Manta.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Orm insists that Arthur can never live in Atlantis, let alone become its king, because he is not a full Atlantean by blood. Arthur flips this on its head after he defeats Orm, refusing the latter's plea for him to mercy kill him, as an Atlantean would. He would not do it, because he is not a full Atlantean.
    • Orm orders his soldiers to hold Vulko captive in his ship, so he can watch him conquer the seven seas and launch the assault against the surface on front seats. After he is defeated, Vulko tells the same soldiers to hold Orm captive in the same spot, so he can watch Arthur's coronation on front seats. Orm gives a sardonic smile at that, apparently appreciating the irony.
  • Irony: During the final battle, Arthur and Mera have an Orbital Kiss complete with weapons fire and over two dozen explosions in the background like fireworks that illuminate the passion of their kiss. Therefore it's quite ironic that this moment was immediately preceded by Mera rushing toward Arthur exclaiming "There are too many casualties. We have to stop the fighting now!".
  • I Will Wait for You: Ever since Atlanna left for Atlantis, promising to meet him at the docks at sunrise, Thomas Curry has been doing just that: going to the docks at sunrise everyday, waiting for Atlanna. She left him more than 20 years earlier. His patience finally pays off in the ending.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The title card for the first fight between Orm and Arthur is horrendously biased against Arthur, but it's not wrong when it lists "drunk" as a weakness.
  • Join or Die: To expand his armies in order to invade the surface-dwelling world, Orm threatens the Fishermen then the Brine into submission. Ricou, the Fisherman king, refuses, then gets killed, and his daughter ends up cooperating. The Brine outright refuse, and to Orm, This Means War!.
  • Jump Scare: When Arthur and Mera are on the boat heading for the hidden sea to find the trident they're forced to go through the Kingdom of Trench....and while on the boat, Mera turns around during the storm and as the camera pans with her we see one right in her face.
  • Keep the Reward: David Kane becomes so obsessed with avenging his Father that he refuses Orm's reward money for delivering him the (damaged) Russian submarine, declaring that Aquaman's death is his reward. When Orm hires him again with the purpose of killing Aquaman and Mera, David readily agrees, again stating that Aquaman's death is payment enough.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Orm sends a veritable mountain of trash to the surface. It might have been a horrible act... except it was garbage humanity tossed into the ocean to begin with.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: Up to Eleven with Karathen. Literally "Kraken + Leviathan", with generous lashings of crustacean thrown in.
  • Lava Adds Awesome: The various scenes with seabed lava (and the Artistic License – Geology that comes with it). The Ring of Fire arena has lava dripping from pipes and stands above a magma seabed. The Brine themselves live on a magma seabed and weaponize the lava with catapults.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Young Arthur is mocked for supposedly talking to fish, only for his bullies to get scared shitless when it turns out that being able to talk to fish means you can get sharks to fight for you.
  • Legendary Weapon: The Trident of Atlan was forged by ancient Atlantis's best weaponsmiths using steel given to them by Poseidon. King Atlan himself used it in the experiment that sunk Atlantis. This weapon is so legendary and sacred that the wielder is guaranteed to be crowned the true king.
  • Lighter and Softer: To James Wan's other works. He's known as a mastermind of the horror genre who helped reintroduce it to the new millennium, and arguably popularized the Torture Porn genre with his Saw series. Then there's other super dark horror like Dead Silence, Insidious, and The Conjuring. While he does have at least one lighter movie to his credit, Aquaman was something he only agreed to take on if it was lighter by his own effort. It does have some horror to it (specifically with the Trench), but it's just another aspect of the movie than the main focus.
    • It is also this to the greater DCEU, with only two named characters dying, and those are very minor characters at that.
  • Lost Colony: The Deserters and the Trench among the tribes that made up the original Atlantis. The Deserters were devastated when the Sahara turned into a desert and left no survivors, only structures buried deep beneath the sand. The Trench technically still exist, but no one prior to Arthur wants to deal with them for obvious reasons.
  • Lost World: Just to complete the references at Jules Verne, the Trident of Atlan is revealed to be located in the Hidden Sea, a world existing in the Earth's core. It is very Cretaceous-like and houses many fantastic (well, more fantastic) animals, including what appears to be pterosaurs.
  • Lovecraft Lite: There are many nods to the cosmic horror aspects of Lovecraft's works from the marine environment, sea people, and sea monsters. However, unlike the typical Lovecraftian story, this movie is more idealistic with Arthur triumphing by reconciling and understanding both the surface and underwater world. Most notably, Arthur manages befriend Karathen just by communicating with it and empathizing with its loneliness.
  • Lovecraft Country: Thomas Curry is from Maine, implying that his interest in Lovecraft, if the copy of The Dunwich Horror is anything to go by, came from this. He also struck a relationship with Atlanna, who would easily be considered an otherworldly person to everyone else.
  • MacGuffin Guardian: Everything about the Trident of Atlan is true, including the existence of its guardian, Karathen. Before he can take it, Arthur has to prove himself a worthy king by talking it down. When he succeeds, not only is he allowed to take the trident, he gains the Karathen's allegiance and rides it for the battle against Orm.
  • Making a Splash: Atlanteans appear to have a natural control over water, which appears to be how they are able to swim so quickly. On the surface this doesn't amount to too much (both Arthur and Vulko can create a defensive water shield using a trident) but Mera, as per tradition, is abnormally powerful and is shown holding back tidal waves and creating underwater air voids (it even works on wine).
  • Manly Tears: Love is a strong enough force to bring men to tears.
    • Despite his rage, David sheds a tear of grief over his father's death.
    • Arthur sheds tears in his youth when Vulko tells him Atlanna was executed. He cries openly again when he finds her alive and well in the Hidden Sea.
    • Orm sheds no tears when he orders Mera executed despite promising to spare her... But he does when Atlanna, believed long dead, arrives to declare the battle between her sons over.
    • Finally, Tom Curry cries when after 20 years of waiting, Atlanna returns exactly as she promised him she would, and the time has done nothing to diminish their love.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Everyone during the Final Battle when Karathen emerges from the ground.
  • Medieval Stasis: Averted with Atlantis. They had Steam Punk tech when it sank and now have spaceship-like submarines and energy weapons in contemporary times. They found ways to power it all with water way beyond what humanity can do with it.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The final battle between Orm's Atlantean forces and the Brine Kingdom is interrupted by a third party, Arthur riding Karathen.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Averted. All of Arthur's senior figures have a run-in with death at some point in the movie, but they all come out unscathed by the end of it. Arthur's father, Thomas, is almost drowned by the tsunami at the start, but Mera saves him. His mentor, Vulko, is outed as a traitor by Orm before the climax and will probably be sentenced to death after the war, but Arthur deposes Orm, so he is saved. Hell, his mother, who is explicitly stated to have been executed many years before, turns up alive in the Hidden Sea. Arthur gets the distinction of being one of the few (if not the only) DCEU superheroes to have both of his parents, adopted or not, alive, well, and be there for him to the end.
  • Mirrored Confrontation Shot: The promotional picture that gave a first look at Orm/Ocean Master has him facing Aquaman this way.
  • Missing Mom:
    • Atlanna to Arthur and Orm. She is among the few things that bound them together, and her execution impacted them deeply. Until the third act, where it is revealed that she is still alive.
    • While Mera's father, Nereus, has an important role, her mother is never mentioned.
  • Mugging the Monster: Arthur's classmates do not know that he's half-Atlantean, and when he appears to be talking to the fishes some bullies antagonize him and call him a freak causing him to radiate his fear telepathically. As a result, the fish in the tank quickly come to his aid, including a huge shark who smashes into the glass hard enough to crack the glass and cause the entire class to back away in shock.
  • Mythology Gag: See here.
  • Neck Lift: Atlanna does this to Tom Curry when she first wakes up, being frightened and confused at finding herself on dry land.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Sure, Arthur saves the crew of the Russian submarine, but he leaves the sub itself to be taken by Kane and used to attack the Atlantean conference, almost starting the war with the surface dwellers.
  • Now What?: Arthur and Mera's Big Damn Kiss is directly followed by Arthur completely forgetting what he was doing there and asking what the plan to defeat Orm was again. After his Awesome Moment of Crowning, Arthur once again asks Mera what he's supposed to do now that he's been crowned.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Though well trained by Vulko, and in non-martial means bt Thomas, Arthur is a hard drinking brawler who allows people to underestimate him. Once Mera tries to downplay his threat level by calling him an imbecile, he runs with it until in a situation where he has to display his smarts in order to complete his mission with her.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Atlanna successfully fought her way through the Trench, alone, and presumably without even the small advantage the flares gave Arthur and Mera. Her dialogue also indicates she faced the Karathen multiple times trying to get Atlan's Trident before giving it up as pointless. Although she failed, it still means she survived the kaiju-sized guardian, and more than once.
  • Older Is Better: In terms of trident/pole weapons, it seems nothing can beat the Trident of Atlan in melee combat, as seen when the recently-proven superior trident of King Orvax (which Orm/Ocean Master uses) gets wrecked during Orm and Arthur's rematch.
  • The Oner: The fight scene between Atlanna and Atlantean mooks that have invaded Thomas's lighthouse.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: The Trident of Atlan is only something that could be handled by the rightful heir to his line. Its guardian, the Karathen, boasts to Arthur how many have tried to gain it and failed—with their skeletons literally surrounding Atlan's long-dead corpse. Curiously enough, even his own mother, Atlanna, technically belongs to this line, but she never managed to get even with the Karathen—not even after decades of exile. Arthur's ability to speak to marine life, which was not seen to be utilized by anyone else, is implied to be one of the qualities needed.
  • Palate Propping: Aquaman does this to Orm's tylosaurus mount during the Final Battle.
  • Le Parkour: In Sicily, Aquaman and Mera are chased by Black Manta and his Atlantean henchmen who wear powered armors. They run on the roofs of a Sicily town parkour-like, while the henchmen crash through walls to chase them.
  • Playing Gertrude:
    • Nicole Kidman is only 6 years older than Patrick Wilson and 12 years older than Jason Momoa, and plays their mother. However, she only appears to be in flashbacks, making it a subversion. And then we learn that she actually survived her execution and has been stuck living in the Trench for more than twenty years, making it a double subversion.
    • Thomas Curry is a downplayed case. Temuera Morrison is 18 years older than Jason Momoa. It's possible, of course, but that would make him a teenage father. Morrison, however, also plays the character during the opening flashback sequence, where he looks to be somewhere in his 30s.
    • Arthur is Orm's older half-brother, but Jason Momoa is actually six years younger than Patrick Wilson. Of course, Jason Momoa is quite a bit more rugged-looking than Patrick Wilson, which helps sell the difference.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Arthur frequently makes references to the surface's pop culture that Mera understandably finds completely baffling and never gets. She eventually finds out who Pinocchio is, though.
  • Post-Kiss Catatonia: Played with. Arthur seems to momentarily completely forget there's a war and a throne at stake once Mera kisses him and asks her to remind him what the plan was again.
  • Princeling Rivalry: Arthur and Orm are half-brothers who fight for the throne of Atlantis. Arthur, the older one, is larger, less sophisticated, more laid-back and heroic, while Orm, the younger one is more wiry (but by no means less strong), elitist, stern and villainous. Orm wins their first duel, but is defeated in the end.
  • Prongs of Poseidon: Tridents are a traditional weapon of royalty in Atlantis, and the come in various shapes and forms. Any royal worth his salt is expected to master tridents and fight with them.
    • Atlanna's quindent (five prongs), which Arthur inherited in his youth and used in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. In his youth, Arthur is shown to be reluctant to learn using such an impractical looking weapon and asks for a sword, but by his adulthood, Vulko has taught him how to wield tridents. It eventually gets wrecked in Arthur's first duel with Orm, as Arthur wasn't as extensively trained for underwater trident combat as Orm.
    • Orm inherited his trident from his father, King Orvax. It gets wrecked in the final duel against Arthur.
    • King Atlan's trident grants great powers over the oceans. Specifically, its wielder can command over the sea life. It serves as the MacGuffin of the movie, and ends up in Arthur/Aquaman's possession. Poseidon himself provided the metal it is made of.
  • The Quest: Aquaman and Mera set out to find the most powerful Atlantean trident ever forged to protect both Atlantis and the surface world from Orm's nefarious plans.
  • Race Lift: A given considering Momoa's casting, but this has had an interesting side-effect concerning the casting of the rest of the characters. Dafoe, Heard, Wilson, Kidman and Lundgren are all very European and more closely resemble their comic book characters. Morrison is a natural fit as Momoa's father with Kidman playing his mother, creating Half-Breed Discrimination undertones right from the start.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: After reuniting with his father for drinks, a group of intimidating looking bar patrons approach Arthur, their tone suggesting they're after a fight... only for it to turn out they just wanted to ask him if they could take a few pictures, as they and their kids are fans. The leader of the group pulls out a pink smartphone to take said pictures.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • The whole point of Arthur getting the Trident of Atlan is to claim his birthright as ruler of Atlantis. But once he obtained the trident and arrives to the Final Battle to end it, does everyone immediately stop fighting once they see Arthur holding the trident while riding on the Karathen and accept Arthur as their king? Nope. It just made everyone want to attack the Karathen and no one noticed or cared that Arthur was wielding the Trident of Atlan at first. They finally accept Arthur as their king after he defeats Orm in a duel.
    • When fighting Jesse and David Kane, Arthur learns that they are father and son. It disgusts him that Jesse raised his son to be a ruthless and cold-hearted pirate, but he seeing a son in anguish over his father's pain leaves Arthur touched by a moment of pity and willing to walk away from the fight. Jesse, however, attacks Arthur as he goes to leave and gets pinned down under debris as a result causing David to beg for Arthur to save his father as the compartment fills with water. However, Arthur's moment of pity is long gone and after reminding them that they killed innocent people, he leaves Jesse and David to "ask the sea for mercy".
    • Orm stages an attack with a meeting with King Nereus to make it seem like the surface world is trying to start a war with the Atlantians. However, Nereus easily saw through this ruse, as why would surface dwellers act without provocation on people they didn't even know about? But Nereus goes along with the plan anyways because he always wanted to raid the surface world and this was the excuse he was looking for.
    • When Orm tries to unite the other kingdoms to his cause, the other rulers are no fools to Orm's "humans are waging war on us" story. They feel Orm is starting an unnecessary genocide for the sake of it and his plans are more about conquest. One ruler is killed when he refuses and Orm forces his daughter to cooperate. Another ruler actively leads his kingdom's army to fight Orm.
    • When Meera plugs the device in the Desert Kingdom's machine, it does nothing, since the machine has been sitting for thousands of years without a power source.
    • During the fight in Sicily, while pursuing Arthur, one of Orm's elite troopers jumps onto the roof a house... and falls straight through it. His companions then use landing thrusters when they go next.
    • Vulko acts as Orm's adviser, trying to keep him busy while Arthur and Mera search for the Golden Trident. But Orm eventually realizes Vulko is undermining him because he figured out there was no way Arthur could have fought so well against him in their duel if not for someone training Arthur.
      • Similarly, even though Arthur is a talented and trained fighter, he's overwhelmed by Orm during their duel because he's almost exclusively fought on the surface, whereas Orm has lived and trained underwater his entire life. Conversely, Arthur fares much better during their rematch by moving it to the surface, a place where Orm has probably never even set foot in his entire life.
    • There are different political entities under the water, so of course there's going to be a Customs office to check in new arrivals. And obviously the daughter of one of those nation's rulers is going to have a diplomatic passport.
    • The awesome laser beams in Black Manta's helmet have immense recoil. When David tests the first prototype helmet, it's completely trashed by the backlash and David is forced to create a bigger and more reinforced design.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Vulko gives one of these to Orm after his relationship with Arthur is outed, stating that the latter is twice the king Orm is even before he gained the title.
  • Reconstruction: The film mixes Reimagining the Artifact with moving away from Arthur's gruffer portrayal in Justice League and utilizes elements that Aquaman is regularly mocked for to its favor. Those silly supervillain names? Titles. The orange and green costume? An ancient king's armor (made golden at that). Talking to fish? Pretty useful when it can control both an army's shark cavalry and bloodthirsty seafaring humanoid beasts, converse with a sea Kaiju, and create an army of fishes in an instant.
  • Recycled In Space: King Arthur UNDERWATER!
  • Reimagining the Artifact: As seen on the poster above, Arthur still wears the iconic "orange shirt with green tights" outfit from the comics, but here it's depicted as a suit of fish-scale armor with a more chain-mail like texture (and a more golden look).
  • Rent-a-Zilla: Karathen, whom Arthur uses as his steed during the final battle. It's the biggest creature seen in the DC Extended Universe so far, big enough to easily destroy the largest Atlantean crafts in a single bite.
  • Required Secondary Powers: The film explicitly spells out that Atlanteans have these, as their ability to live underwater demands a high resistance to extreme cold and tremendous pressures, as well as the ability to see with the slightest light.
    • Several of the powers the Atlanteans have developed mirror the Kryptonians' in Man of Steel, including superior strength, enhanced vision and resistance to surface (Earth) weapons. The non-royals, who can only breathe water, even mirror the results of having their environment suits compromised.
  • Rescue Romance: Thomas Curry is shown to have found Queen Atlanna washed up on the shore unconscious and carried her back to the lighthouse.
  • Retcon: Partly due to Zack Snyder's non-involvement in the film and departure from the DCEU, and to James Wan having nigh-carte blanche, elements first introduced in Batman v Superman and Justice League are abandoned, superseded and/or disregarded in this film, with very little of the characterization of Aquaman or other Atlanteans held from their previous rendition under Snyder. Aside from the change of Arthur from a gruff Good Is Not Nice loner to a more sarcastic, down-to-earth character, various other elements shift to the point that the only ones really kept are the fact that Arthur helped fight against Steppenwolf and the fact that Earth at large knows that Aquaman exists.
    • The circumstances implied behind Atlanna's disappearance from Arthur and Thomas's lives has been changed here. Justice League has Arthur be completely disrespectful of Atlanna and presumably hate her for "leaving [him] on [his] father's doorstep." Aquaman shows that Atlanna has been part of Arthur's life for his first three years (long enough to even have a picture of them as a family taken) and teenage Arthur is shown to be genuinely upset when Vulko reveals she's been sacrificed to the Trench for her marriage to Thomas. Overall, Arthur's disdain has been shifted from his mother to Atlantis.
    • The unnamed King of Atlantis in the flashback of Justice League may have been intended by Zack Snyder to be Atlan (and some reports said as much) while Atlan is established here with a new costume which later becomes Aquaman's own. Similarly, Aquaman's quindent in the Snyder films is revealed not to be "the" trident, but rather his mother's weapon, and it's replaced by Atlan's trident. Aquaman's Justice League armor is also unaccounted for, but shown not to be "the" Aquaman suit, which is established as Atlan's old armor.
  • Rightful King Returns: Arthur sets out to claim the throne of Atlantis with the support of Vulko and Mera in order to prevent Orm from invading the surface.
  • Rock Beats Laser:
    • The concrete stumps Aquaman uses like bolas against Black Manta, whose Powered Armor is made of cutting edge Atlantean tech he reverse-engineered.
    • Aquaman uses marine lifeforms to overwhelm the Atlantean army during the final battle (including the lifeforms they were using as mounts).
  • Royalty Super Power: Only highborn Atlanteans can breathe air and water, as well Orm, Arthur and Mera seem to be far mightier than even ordinary Atlanteans with Arthur tanking plasma beams and lifting submarines. Finally Mera can control water while Arthur can communicate with sea life - an ability even Mera never heard of, and is so rare that it marks him as the Chosen One by the Karathen, who had not conversed with any challengers since the time of Atlan himself.
  • Rule of Cool: Pick a scene, any scene - whatever is the most outrageously awesome idea the writers could have had, nine times out of ten it's the one they go with. This movie has more in common with classic adventure movies and saturday morning cartoons than it does with the rest of the DCEU. Ocean Master attacking the surface with tsunamis? Black Manta sword-fighting Aquaman instead of using a gun? Giant underwater armies of sea monster cavalry? Black Manta rebuilding the plasma cannon that Orm gave him into a helmet that shoots lasers from its eyes? Why not?
  • Rule of Seven: The ancient location called Council of the Kings has statues representing the original kings of the Seven Kingdoms.
  • Runaway Bride: Both Atlanna and Mera try to run away from the arranged marriages imposed on them. Mera succeeds. Atlanna at first lost, but with Orvax's death, she was free again.
  • Running Gag: People quietly discussing something suddenly interrupted by a blast of fire. It happens to Atlanna and Thomas at the start, then Arthur, Mera, and Vulko in a shipwreck, and finally, Arthur and Mera while they're about to kiss in Sicily.
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: Jesse Kane and his son David (Black Manta) are described are modern-day Submarine Pirates.
  • Scenery Porn: Atlantis is a sight of beauty; the city is luminescent beneath the seas, combining marine lifeforms and unique architecture that's composed of corals over old ruins.
  • Screw You, Elves!: The main plot is Aquaman doing this to an Atlantean faction that wants to fight humans to stop their pollution of the seas - which, in classic elf fashion, the Atlanteans hadn't been helping to prevent despite the advanced technology and information they had available.
  • Seahorse Steed: Xebellians ride giant "seahorses", which is made less ridiculous in that the creatures are quite different in shape and movement from real seahorses, with four large fins and a heavily dragon-inspired design. Aquaman himself gets to ride one during the Final Battle.
  • Second Person Attack: Arthur gets knocked out with a slug to the face this way.
  • Sequel Hook: In The Stinger, Black Manta is ready to seek vengeance against Aquaman, and gets the help of Dr. Stephen Shin.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Downplayed thanks to her form-fitting suit and Beauty Is Never Tarnished. When Mera wears a formal dress more befitting of her title as a princess, Arthur is visibly stunned by how she looks.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The show playing on Thomas' TV (before Atlanna destroys it) is Stingray, Gerry Anderson's aquatic precursor to Thunderbirds.
    • In one scene, Arthur calls Vulko "Cobra Kai".
    • The Annabelle doll from director James Wan's The Conjuring Universe makes a cameo.
    • Arthur/Aquaman gets injured on his pectoralis major, at the same place as Khal Drogo. When he wakes up on the fishing boat, his hair is pulled back and he has seaweed dressings over his injuries, like Drogo again.
    • In Thomas Curry's house, on the table is a H. P. Lovecraft novel, The Dunwich Horror. Lovecraft was a horror writer pioneer, whose Cthulhu novels involved man-eating fish people and tentacle creatures deep under the ocean. Lovecraft's best known work, The Call of Cthulhu, is quoted by Black Manta in his first scene.
    • Mera using her water power to save a drowning Thomas is remarkably similar to a scene in Avatar: The Last Airbender when Katara uses waterbending to save a drowning Aang.
    • Arthur mentions Pinocchio as something he picked up hiding inside a whale from. When Mera is given the original book to read by a civilian, she calls Arthur out on it, only for him to clarify that he was referring to the movie. Given that the non-Disney variants were all overshadowed by the Disney version, it's probably safe to assume which one he saw.
    • King Ricou of the Fishermen is named in tribute to stuntman Ricou Browning.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Orm Marius, the Ocean Master, is Arthur/Aquaman's half-brother and rival for the throne.
  • Signature Move:
    • Arthur slams enemies into the ceiling in several action sequences. Notably, Atlanna did the same when Atlantean soldiers came to retrieve her when he was a child.
    • Orm uses his trident to grip either lava or deck plating to use as a projectile.
  • Something Completely Different: James Wan accepted the directing job on the condition that he be allowed to make the film a departure from the Darker and Edgier tone of some of the previous films.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Arthur's parents are usually dead before he begins his superhero career depending on the continuity. They are both shown to have survive and even get their own happy ending!
  • Spin to Deflect Stuff: An ability that Vulko shows Arthur, and which he uses in the final battle. Somewhat more justified in that the spinning is augmented by a hydrokinetic shield.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Atlanna, who is an Atlantean Queen, with Thomas Curry, an ordinary lighthouse keeper from Maine. Their relationship only lasted for a few years or so before Atlanna was forced to go back home, and then after giving birth to Orm, she was executed by being thrown into the Trench. Despite this, Thomas continues to go to the docks at sunrise everyday, hoping that some miracle will eventually reunite him and Atlanna again. Fortunately, they do.
  • Steampunk: The flashback to Atlantis's golden age shows bipedal vehicles that seem to be of this aesthetic, helped by the fact that they seem to be bellowing out steam.
  • The Stinger: David Kane survives and is working together with Dr. Shin to find and kill Aquaman.
  • Stock Sound Effects: The sound effect that plays when the submarine crashes after attacking the Council of the Kings is identical to the Battlelord from Duke Nukem 3D.
  • Story-Breaker Power: The Trident of Atlantis serves as one. The weapon was once wielded by King Atlan, the first ruler of Atlantis, with the power to control all sea creatures. His attempt to experiment with its power resulted in the entire Atlantis sinking under the sea. When Arthur gets his hand on it, he uses it to singlehandlely turn the tide of the battle between the Brine and Orm's army by using the Trident to turn sea mounts against their masters, control the nigh-invulnerable kaiju-sized monster Karathen and even the Always Chaotic Evil Trench people to brutal efficiency. If not for Mera convincing him to take a more pacifist approach by dueling Orm, Arthur would still be able to wipe the floor against Orm's army with ease.
  • Strong, but Unskilled: Arthur is trained in underwater combat and weapon fighting but he spends half his time on the surface, giving him a disadvantage among elite Atlanteans like Orm who spent all their time fighting underwater and with Atlantean weapons. He can still hold his own, but repeatedly said to be literally "out of his element."
  • Superhero Origin: Although the film takes place after the events of Justice League, in which Aquaman's powers and status were established, this film chronicles how he was born and how he eventually becomes the king of Atlantis. According to Jason Momoa:
    "Justice League was only a weekend in Arthur Curry's life. This is a totally different beast. In Aquaman, you see when his parents met and what happened to them. Then the little boy being raised and finding his powers and going through that and never being accepted on either side. And then becoming this man who puts up all these walls. You just slowly see this man harden up and be completely reluctant wanting to be king and not knowing what to do with these powers he has.''
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: Orm wants to wage war against the surface world. Arthur/Aquaman has a bunch of powerful friends by now in the surface world, but they aren't shown to respond to Orm's initial move of dumping all warships and trash back into the beaches, or even contacting Aquaman to ask what is going on.
  • Super Toughness: Aquaman is functionally immune to conventional surface-dweller weapons, taking an M203 grenade to the chest was painful but he remained mostly unharmed. Black Manta modified Atlantean technology and weapons to create a new Powered Armor in order to fight him on even ground in a rematch, and even managed to stab him with explicitly Atlantean steel.
  • Sword Drag: Aquaman drags King Atlan's trident behind him before his final duel with Orm starts.
  • Swirlie: Played for Laughs when Man-O-War sticks his head in a toilet to breathe easily after Mera ruptures his helmet.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Aquaman's ability to talk to fish is what helps him gain the trident and form an allegiance with the Karathen.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Child actors Kaan Guldur and Otis Dhanji play Arthur at ages 9 and 13 respectively.
  • Today, X. Tomorrow, the World!:
    Orm: Today we unite our kingdoms. Tomorrow we scorch the surface!
  • Toilet Humor:
    • When told that a dried up piece of Atlantean technology in the Sahara Desert needs water on it to function, Arthur states that he "could have just peed on it".
    • Taken literally during the fight in Sicily, when Man-O-War gets his Mobile Fishbowl ruptured by Mera. Suffocating out in open air, he dunks his head in an actual toilet to breathe easily again.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The previews that showed a white-haired Atlanna talking to an adult Arthur make clear she's Not Quite Dead.
  • Trampled Underfoot: The framed photo of Tom, Atlanna, and Baby Arthur as a happy family meets this fate when Orvax sends his soldiers to collect Atlanna.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Vulko is a heroic version. He stands beside Orm and offers just enough genuine assistance to not be dismissed from his service, but he approached and trained Arthur how to use his powers and Atlantean weapons, specifically because he knew Orm would be a problematic king and would need another to take the throne eventually. Orm reveals later on he knew of it, and had Vulko imprisoned for the climax of the film.
  • Try Not to Die: Aquaman asks Mera what her plan is for the final battle. Her answer is "Not getting killed".
  • 2-D Space: An underwater version, but justified in dialogue. Atlantis is a walled city, but not domed, with a central highway leading in and out. Arthur points out the absurdity of this highway following a bridge since a vessel can go in any direction while Mera explains the bridge was part of the original surface-level city and the entrance is also a diplomatic checkpoint, with security measures (giant cannons on the wall) in place to prevent anyone from trying to enter another way.
  • Underwater Kiss: Aquaman and Mera kiss during the final underwater battle. Doubles as an Orbital Kiss.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The old woman whose apartment Arthur and Black Manta crash into and duke it out in looks more annoyed than anything.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The late King Orvax, as he was responsible for separating Atlanna from Thomas and Arthur and giving her the death sentence. He also shaped Orm into the man he is now. Despite being dead and unseen (without even a flashback), the consequences of his actions still resonate within Atlantis and Earth.
  • Video Credits: As part of the Creative Closing Credits, the names of the main actors appear next to statues representing their characters.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: The crustacean Brine don't bow down to any other power, so submitting them by force is the way to go for any would-be Ocean Master. Orm doesn't even bother to diplomatically try gaining them as allies and attacks them immediately after press-ganging the Fishermen in his ranks.
  • We All Live in America: European toilets don't fill the toilet bowl that high with water. Murk would have gotten his hair wet and that's about it
  • Weak Sauce Weakness: Regular Atlanteans need water to breathe, which Mera and Arthur use to their advantage by busting the water supply of the armoured elite soldiers, with Murk even needing to dunk his head in a toilet to survive.
  • Weapon Twirling: Vulko teaches Arthur how to do this with his trident. Combined with some sort of hydrokinesis in the weapon itself, it forms an impenetrable shield.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Arthur learns early that he has the ability to communicate with sea life. This is later revealed to be such a rare trait that even Mera did not know of it, and even though they were able to avoid capture by hiding inside a whale she was perturbed by how he used it. When confronting the Karathen, she gives a long speech about how no prior being was able to overcome her and take the trident. Arthur responds with his own speech, at which point the Karathen was surprised that he could understand her and allowed him to take it, the implication being that the ability to communicate is what it meant by uniting the oceans and is exactly what makes him the true heir to the throne. It has its advantages.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Arthur expresses regret over his part in Jesse Kane's death, and ultimately spares Orm, but has no problem killing dozens (if not hundreds) of nameless Atlantean mooks while controlling the Karathen. Although to the movie's credit, Mera says the battle is taking too many casualties and they split up to convince her father to stand down and defeat his brother, respectively, so the battle will end.
  • The Worf Effect: Rare heroic example. In the first battle between Arthur and Orm, Orm's trident splits Arthur's quindent into two pieces. In the second battle between them, Arthur's new trident, the lost trident of Atlan, completely shatters Orm's trident, showing Arthur and the trident's utter strength.
  • Wrecked Weapon:
    • Orm breaks Arthur's quindent during their duel for the throne.
    • Arthur ends up breaking Orm's own trident with King Atlan's trident, defeating him.
  • You Are Not Alone: Arthur admits to Orm that he was once overjoyed to know that somewhere out there, he had a little brother and hoped to one day meet him to assure him that he wasn't alone. Unfortunately, Orm turned out to be "a dick."
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Evoked by Mera when she sides with Arthur and helps him escape Orm and Atlantis guards. Arthur assumes that being royalty she could return and they would be lenient, but she asserts that they are not that forgiving. Her only hope now is to help Arthur find the Trident.
  • You Killed My Father:
    • Once the King of Atlantis discovered Atlanna had a kid on the surface, she was thrown to the beasts in the Trench. This death is resented by both of her sons, Arthur (who blames Atlantis's prejudice) and Orm (who blames his half-brother for having caused it). Fortunately, it turns out Atlanna is still alive.
    • David Kane's motivation throughout the movie is revenge for the death of his father, which he blames on Arthur.

Alternative Title(s): Aquaman

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