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DC fooling us into thinking Amber Heard isn’t in ‘Aquaman 2’ could hide a twist on comic book history’s cruelest moment

Black Manta's threats might be more than just Villain Monologuing For Dummies.

Amber Heard holds a bouquet of roses as Mera in 'Aquaman'
Image via DC Studios

DC must’ve known what it was doing when the decision was made to only feature Amber Heard’s Mera in a single blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot in the first trailer for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. The fact that the leading lady of a superhero blockbuster that grossed over $1 billion at the global box office would be so underused to promote its sequel is pretty shocking. Or, rather, it would be more shocking if we weren’t all aware of the unfortunate real-world drama that appears to have impacted Heard’s DC career.

With her brief moment in the trailer depicting Mera trapped in a bubble-prison, it seems like the character isn’t going to get a whole lot to do in the sequel, likely being captured and imprisoned by Black Manta as part of his scheme to get revenge on Arthur Curry. And with director James Wan promising that this film is a “bromance action-adventure movie,” not a “romance adventure movie” like the first, don’t expect much this time around from the Atlantean princess ⏤ or queen now, I guess, as the trailer casually drops the bombshell that Arthur and Mera are married with a baby boy.

Speaking of whom, it’s the presence of the couple’s kid in the narrative that makes us worry about the Curry family’s fate, and that of Mera, in particular. For why that is, we have to revisit perhaps the darkest death in DC Comics history…

Is Aquaman 2 a warped adaptation of Aquaman: Death of a Prince?

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
Photo via Warner Bros.

Even though he was the joke of the Justice League for years in pop culture, Aquaman’s comic book life hasn’t always been a laughing matter. In the epic Aquaman: Death of a Prince arc of the mid-1970s, Arthur and Mera’s newborn child, Arthur Curry Jr., is kidnapped by Black Manta and — prepare yourselves — is murdered when the villain suffocates him with oxygen. So, although Manta’s grandiose claims that he’s going to kill everyone Aquaman loves in the trailer might sound like generic villain talk, we really should take his threat seriously.

That said, it seems highly unlikely that DC is about to kill a baby in a family-friendly action flick that’s coming out in time for Christmas. The decision to annihilate Arthur Junior has long been considered to be a key instance of DC Comics going way too far, and it’s not hard to imagine that the outcry of outrage would be stratospherically higher if it happened in a major movie release. That said, it’s clear that Death of a Prince is a huge influence on where The Lost Kingdom is going, and Mera’s sole trailer moment may give away exactly how.

Apologies for returning to this triggering tragedy, but Black Manta’s method of killing Arthur’s son was to put him in an air-sphere which he slowly filled with oxygen. And where’s Mera in the trailer? Stuck in an air-sphere. Murdering an infant might be a no-go for superhero cinema, but killing off the hero’s love interest? Unfortunately, that is the oldest trope in the book. If, for whatever reason, the studio demanded Heard had to be removed from the franchise, executing her in a way that pays homage to the comics and add some stakes to the movie is probably the most logical and impactful method of doing it.

Maybe Arthur will get the happy family happy ending he was denied back in the ’70s, but given that this is the final nail in the coffin of the DCEU, it would only make sense to end it on a very Zack Snyder-like death.

About the author

Christian Bone

Christian Bone is a Staff Writer/Editor at We Got This Covered and has been cluttering up the internet with his thoughts on movies and TV for a full decade, ever since graduating with a Creative Writing degree from the University of Winchester. He can usually be found writing about anything Marvel or DC. And yet, if you asked him, he'd probably say his favorite superhero film is 'The Incredibles'.