Ocean Master Isn't Defeated Just Yet
In the film as in the comic books, defeating Ocean Master doesn't mean he's taken care of permanently. And even before Arthur extends an olive branch to his handcuffed brother, promising that they will "talk" once the dust settles, the pieces are still on the board that would lead to Orm's return. Remember: his main argument for war was that the surface world was terrible, vile, and oblivious to the damage they cause. And that is guaranteed NOT to change no matter who sits upon the throne of Atlantis. So jail cell or not, Orm is going to have his supporters who agreed, and still agree with his viewpoint.
King Nereus said it best: the war with the surface world was going to come sooner or later, so it's safe to assume that others share the opinion (if not most of Xebel). The comics have kept Orm a persistent threat by putting him on a permanent hunt for artifacts or weaponry that could turn the tide, or forcing Atlantis and the surface world into open war, knowing Atlantis would prevail. There is still a chance that Aquaman 2 could Unite Orm and Arthur in a common cause. But even if it did, the fact that he fundamentally disagrees with Arthur about the way to protect Atlantis means he's a threat that never goes away. Definitely not in a direct sequel, that's for sure.
Our Aquaman 2 Prediction: When Arthur falls, Ocean Master is the only person Mera can turn to for help.
Black Manta Still Wants Revenge
The after-credits scene of Aquaman makes it obvious that Black Manta is still being set up as Aquaman's greatest villain, which he is in the comics (Orm being more of a "rival" than a nemesis). And lest any fans forget, Manta still has a suit of armor outfitted with Atlantean technology, weaponry, and the knowledge to use it. Having proven his knack for assembling and leasing special ops soldiers into combat, and a mastery of arms manufacturing, Black Manta could bring a whole lot more than a squad of commandos for his next showdown with Aquaman.
Whatever tools he may use to launch his attacks, though, it's Black Manta's motivation that makes him an ever-present, supremely dangerous threat to Aquaman and by extension, Atlantis. The need for revenge upon Arthur for killing his father isn't going to go away any time soon... and now that Aquaman's mother has just returned from the dead, we would say Manta has the best chance yet at breaking Arthur's heart to match his own. And now, he has help.
Our Aquaman 2 Prediction: Black Manta gets his wish, and makes Aquaman's loved ones watch.
Dr. Shin Will Help Manta Get It
Few would believe it based on his brief appearances as a crackpot Atlantis truth-er on network news in the movie, but Dr. Stephen Shin (Randall Park) may actually pose the greatest threat to Aquaman and his people. Not just as the person who saves Black Manta so that he can live to kill Arthur, but for being more determined than anyone alive to expose the existence of Atlantis to the entire world. With help from Black Manta (knowledge of their technology, their preferred places of weapons exchanges, etc.) he might just be able to do it, too.
The version of Dr. Shin in the movie is already less sympathetic than his comic book version seen in DC's New 52, where he played a sizable role in the childhood and upbringing of Arthur. In the end, his desire to know more about Atlantis - and prove to the world that he never should have been discredited for seeking it - drove him to betray Arthur and his closest friends. If Arthur and Manta are both blunt instruments, expect Stephen Shin to be the brains behind whatever attack is ultimately launched.
Our Aquaman 2 Prediction: Dr. Shin gets as used as everyone else, and winds up regretting exposing Atlantis to the world.
Don't Count Out King Nereus, Either
Last but certainly not least, fans shouldn't assume that King Nereus is permanently at home under Arthur's "ally" column, either. He may be the first to support Arthur as king based on his capture of the trident, but all that really proves is that he knows when he's picked the losing side of a battle. The version of King Nereus in the comics was a proud, shrewd operator, so it's safe to assume the movie version will be, too. Even if they did change his character to make him Mera's father, and not her husband. But that change may actually prove he's a threat to be watched, based on the themes of James Wan's first crack at the Aquaman mythology.
The driving force of the film is a parent's hopes for their child, and no matter how you put it, King Nereus was just forced to kneel before a half-breed outsider, illegitimate son of his nation's longest political rival... oh, and who his daughter will probably marry eventually, too. If Black Manta, Ocean Master, Dr. Shin, or anyone else is looking to make a powerful ally in their plan to bring Arthur down, King Nereus may only need an opportunity to become antagonist to Arthur's budding rule.
Our Aquaman 2 Prediction: King Nereus plays the part of Ocean Master in the sequel, doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.
The heroes may be celebrating the bright future that now awaits them as the new rulers of Atlantis, and anticipating the "fun" they will have. But fans can take their pick of which figures inside and outside of Atlantis have the means, motive, and opportunity to shift the balance of power all over again. Atlantis is a world of mystery and lost history, after all. All things considered, King Arthur may not have the slightest idea of what's about to hit him, come Aquaman 2.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018