Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom‘s first trailer has surfaced online – but it’s not what you’d expect from the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) movie.
The final DCEU film’s first teaser has been a long time coming. Aquaman 2 swims into theaters on December 20 in the US (December 26 in the UK and Australia), so it’s high time we saw some actual footage. However, the forthcoming movie’s first trailer isn’t your typical teaser – and that poses a big problem for the DCEU capper.
Before I dive into why that’s the case, check out Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom‘s teaser below:
To be fair, based on the all-too-brief footage we get, Aquaman 2 actually looks pretty good. But hey, we all thought The Flash‘s first trailer made it look like one of the best superhero movies ever made, and look how that turned out.
It’s a different kind of issue – or, rather, issues – that I have with The Lost Kingdom‘s first trailer, though.
To begin with, it only teases the official trailer’s arrival. The latter is set to arrive on Thursday, September 14, so Aquaman 2‘s first ‘trailer’ – i.e., the video above – is nothing more than an aperitif before we feast our eyes on the real deal.
Now, I understand why Warner Bros. has released a teaser ahead of the actual trailer, particularly from a marketing strategy perspective. It wants to get people excited for one of the last big new movies of 2023. Leading with a 30-second teaser, which reveals when the first proper trailer will arrive, is one way of drumming up interest – and that’s particularly appropriate if some film fans had completely forgotten that Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom was coming out this year.
Even so, releasing a teaser before the main trailer, especially as the latter is out four days later, feels underwhelming to me. If the official trailer is ready, why not release it now and give us more footage to pore over? If it isn’t, just shadow-drop it online on Thursday, giving us all a delightful surprise in the process.
It’s hereeee!!! WBD released a gorgeously looking teaser for the first full trailer of #AquamanAndTheLostKingdom, which will be released on THU.#Aquaman sequel is set to debut on DEC 20, with one of the shortest marketing campaigns for a film this sizepic.twitter.com/tiuFbYVU2SSeptember 11, 2023
Another worry about the pre-appetizer-style teaser’s launch is that the official trailer might not be finalized yet. A trailer’s visual effects (VFX) might not be fully completed until the day before said teaser is released. As we’ve recently learned from VFX workers employed by Marvel Studios, this has been the case on multiple Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) projects’ trailers, plus the films and Disney Plus shows themselves, with VFX employees working down to the wire to ensure each projects’ CGI sequences are up to scratch. It’s not a stretch, then, to presume that the same issue may be plaguing Aquaman 2‘s official trailer and overall development.
There’s evidence to suggest that’s the case, too. According to numerous industry leakers, including ViewerAnon and BigScreenLeaks, Aquaman 2‘s preview screenings haven’t gone down well. In fact, according to Aquaman‘s lead star Jason Momoa, the movie was undergoing reshoots as recently as June. Clearly, there are elements of The Lost Kingdom‘s plot that have needed to be tweaked, based on the reactions of those early audience test screenings. By proxy, that means additional VFX work will be necessary in the lead-up to release. If Warner Bros. wants any of those CGI-based scenes included in the official trailer, it’ll be a race against time to get them done before Thursday.
And that’s before you consider that Aquaman 2 is the last-ever DCEU film we’ll get. Once it’s released, the DCEU will be dead, with James Gunn and Peter Safran’s rebooted DC Cinematic Universe (DCU) taking its place.
We’ve already seen the damage that’s been done to the last few DCEU movies’ ticket sales in the wake of the DCU’s January 2023 announcement. The box-office hauls of Shazam!: Fury of the Gods, The Flash, and Blue Beetle have fallen short of Warner Bros’ internal projections. Why would Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom be any different, especially as it’s the final nail in the unremarkable DCEU’s coffin? Even worse, its predecessor was a massive hit that raked in over $1 billion worldwide. The pressure on Aquaman 2 to give the DCEU any form of send-off, then, is astronomically high.
So yes, The Lost Kingdom‘s first teaser makes it look like a fun-filled flick, but I feel that its reveal is part of a wider misstep on Warner Bros’ part. All it does is raise further questions about how the DCEU’s final moments have been (and continue to be) handled. The only saving grace is that the MCU’s less successful franchise cousin is nearly over. Here’s hoping Gunn and Safran’s cinematic universe reset will be a far more stable and enjoyable franchise to escape into.