Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom Ending Explained: Ocean To Ocean   

Warning: this post contains major spoilers for "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom."

After five years, the best superhero movie of 2018 that did not win an Oscar is finally back with a sequel. "Aquaman" remains a high point of the DCEU, a fantastical adventure movie with great worldbuilding, cool performances, an excellent horror scene, and some of the most bonkers moments in the superhero genre — like a drums-playing octopus, an army of crab people, and Julie Andrews playing an aquatic kaiju. 

Now, "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" doubles down on everything its predecessor did by letting James Wan go fully nuts. It expands the world of Aquaman by bringing in a mythical threat and introducing DC's answer to Mordor, it has a poignant story about the current threat to the environment, and it also gives us a fun road trip movie with Jason Momoa and Patrick Wilson as bickering brothers that once fought to the death. 

With this being not only the end of the "Aquaman" series, but of the DC Expanded Universe at large, there is a lot riding on "Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom" to deliver a satisfying conclusion.

Who lives in a lost kingdom under the sea?

The movie deals with Arthur Curry struggling to balance his duties as a father with his duties as a kind and also as a superhero. No matter what, he is not satisfied by anything in his life. Much like Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) in the "Fast & Furious" movies, he is in dire need of an adventure. Thankfully, that is exactly what Aquaman (Momoa) gets when Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) discovers the black trident, a mythical and cursed artifact belonging to Kordax, the long-dormant king of Necrus, the seventh kingdom of Atlantis. 

Turns out that Kordax was King Atlan's (Graham McTavish/Vincent Regan) brother, and before the fall of Atlantis, Kordax tried to take over the kingdom with a trident fused with dark magic. Of course, he went insane, and his kingdom essentially turned into Mordor, fueled by Atlantean fossil fuels and a thirst for war until Atlan froze the whole city using blood magic. 

In the present, Black Manta slowly becomes possessed by Kordax, as he sets out to free the evil king in order to gain revenge on Aquaman. To stop him, Arthur has to team up with his imprisoned brother Orm (Wilson), as the two bond on a journey of brotherhood. 

From ocean to ocean

Eventually, the brothers make it to Antarctica where Barad-dûr, I mean Necrus, lies. They recruit the help of returning kings Nereus (Dolph Lundgren) and the Brine King (Andrew Crawford/John Rhys-Davies)to help rescue Arthur's son, Arthur Jr., who was kidnapped by a black Manta in order to use his blood to free Kordax.

What ensues is a very cool battle on top of the massive Atlantean fortress, with all sorts of deep-sea creatures and monsters involved. Aquaman and Orm reach Black Manta and succeed at taking the trident from him, but it briefly possesses Orm instead. Thankfully, thanks to the power of family, Orm helps Arthur kill Kordax right as he wakes up from his slumber.

With the family united, Arthur decides not to send Orm back to prison, but instead fake his death so he can be free at last. With the encouragement of his little brother, Arthur also takes the decision to unveil Atlantis to the surface world, vowing to share their technology and knowledge with the world to solve climate change.

Long live the king

A big theme of "Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom" is that of environmental conservation. In trying to free Kordax, Black Manta steals the Atlantean equivalent of fossil fuel and burns it in order to accelerate global warming so the poles melt and Necrus thaws. The Atlanteans banned that energy source for the damage it caused to the environment — it is not subtle. At the same time, Arthur spends much of his time as king of Atlantis trying to reason with the council about revealing Atlantis to the world so they can fight climate change together.

This is clearly a topic dear to Jason Momoa (who has a story by credit on the film), as the triumphant end of the film is not the victory over Black Manta, but the moment when Aquaman successfully convinces the world to work together to save the environment. He has become a bridge between two worlds, and is at peace with his different roles.

As for Orm, he followed in the tradition of so many "Fast & Furious" villains by realizing that evil plans are nothing next to the power of family. He spends the movie slowly bonding with his brother, realizing that Arthur is the better king, and that Orm doesn't need a throne to be happy. He is finally free from expectations. Free to go to the surface and have his first cheeseburger.

The end of Aquaman?

While "Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom" leaves the door open to new stories, things are complicated by the fact that the DCEU as we know it is officially and finally over. Momoa recently commented on the fate of the franchise to Entertainment Weekly:

"I don't necessarily want it to be the end... [but] I don't think it's really, like, a choice [...] The truth of it is, I mean, if the audience loves it, then there's a possibility [...] But right now, I'm like, 'It's not looking too good.'"

We know that the new DC Universe is set to start from scratch with a new canon, and only a handful of characters from the current era making it to the new one. As of this writing, there has been no confirmation of the character of Aquaman appearing in the new DC Universe, and there is no confirmed Justice League project. But all hints suggest that we are slowly building up to a new Justice League, a much different one than before, seemingly based on the Justice League International team-up, which sadly does not include Aquaman.

As for Wan, it is clear he cares about the world of "Aquaman," and as he said in an interview with Empire, "I haven't directed a third movie [in a series] before, so I'd be open to doing another [Aquaman] if I got the same freedom I've had on these first two." As to the chances we'll see an "Aquaman 3," Wan added, "I've learned to never say never."

"Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" is currently in theaters.

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