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Aquaman 2 sounds like another disaster in the making for DC

Published Jul 19th, 2023 5:08PM EDT
Jason Momoa as Aquaman.
Image: Warner Bros.

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It remains to be seen whether or not Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom can avoid a similar fate to that of other recent DC catastrophes, but reports suggest that the production has been anything but smooth. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Aquaman 2 recently wrapped more reshoots in New Zealand. Reshoots are increasingly common in blockbuster movies nowadays and don’t necessarily indicate anything is wrong with the movie. But this was the third round of reshoots, which THR describes as “almost an unprecedented number.”

Principal photography on Aquaman 2 finished in January 2022. The initial test screenings failed to instill confidence in the executives, so Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group co-CEO Pam Abdy “took a strong creative stance and got involved in the editing of one cut,” sources say. Then that version tested even lower than the first, leading to more reshoots.

While it’s unclear exactly why the sequel was failing to connect with audiences, an insider cited story clarity and Batman. DC Films boss Walter Hamada wanted the Michael Keaton Batman to serve as DC’s Nick Fury, showing up in various upcoming DCEU movies, including Aquaman 2, The Flash, and the since-shelved Batgirl.

But due to numerous delays — Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’s release date has moved from December 16, 2022 to March 17, 2023 to December 20, 2023 — plans changed, and the studio eventually decided to replace a scene Keaton shot with a scene featuring Ben Affleck’s Batman. Now sources say that the latest cut of the film dumps Affleck’s scene as well.

The lack of Batmen won’t make or break this movie, but it’s clear that Warner Bros. Discovery doesn’t want to release a fourth straight DC box office bomb. 2022’s Black Adam outperformed this year’s Shazam! Fury of the Gods and The Flash, but all three superhero movies lost money in theaters. It’s a streak WBD desperately wants to break.

With a budget of $205 million, it’s no surprise that Warner Bros. is doing everything in its power to save Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, but it just goes to show what a trainwreck the DCEU has become. Of course, that’s also why Blue Beetle in August and Aquaman 2 in December mark the end of the road for the DC Extended Universe.

In the meantime, newly-appointed DC Studios co-CEO James Gunn is working on a rebooted DC cinematic universe that will kick off with Superman: Legacy on July 11, 2025. The question now is how much more damage the DC brand can sustain before it ruins any chance Gunn has of righting the ship in the coming years.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.