As the success of Avengers: Infinity War earlier this year amply demonstrates, the cinematic universe model can prove beneficial in telling elaborate, decade-spanning stories in which each film builds on the last. For the flipside, however, there’s the DCEU, where each new entry is tasked with sharing its continuity with a whole load of less-than-beloved flicks, the most recent being last year’s commercially underwhelming Justice League.
But while upcoming releases like The Batman and Wonder Woman 1984 look to be steering clear of the events of this ensemble action flick by journeying further back in the timeline, Aquaman follows on from Zack Snyder’s film while also managing to almost completely ignore it.
To elaborate, it’s reported that the only explicit reference to Arthur Curry’s last adventure is when Mera mentions how Aquaman helped save the world from Steppenwolf. Beyond that, not only does Justice League go unacknowledged, but its content is practically contradicted at some points, too.
For one thing, Arthur treats his introduction to Mera in the new movie like the pair have never met before, despite the two of them sharing the screen last year. What’s more, while Justice League saw Mera create an underwater air bubble just so the two of them could have a subaquatic conversation, Aquaman has the characters’ dialogue come through loud and clear without such measures. And speaking of Mera, though Amber Heard’s character is the one to give Arthur his trident in Justice League, Aquaman has apparently had the weapon since he was a child in the new film.
Perhaps the most significant change, however, is Arthur’s relationship with his mother. While Justice League saw Jason Momoa’s character hold feelings of resentment towards Atlanna for abandoning him on his doorstep, now his anger is directed towards the Atlanteans, since it’s said that Atlanna only left him because she was being hunted by her people.
James Wan has hinted many times in the past that he regards Aquaman first and foremost as a standalone film with limited connections to the wider DCEU, and it seems he’s not shy about disregarding past developments for the sake of his own work. And given how Justice League isn’t exactly a favorite among fans or critics, it’s hard to hold it against him.