It will be four years since the original when Aquaman 2 hits theaters, which may seem like a long time - but there are some very good reasons for the wait. Warner Bros. and DC Films found their biggest success yet with the release of Aquaman. The James Wan-directed underwater adventure saw Jason Momoa reprise his role as Arthur Curry, and it is now the highest-grossing DC movie of all time.
Due to its financial success and the positive response from audiences, it came as no surprise to learn that Aquaman 2 is already in development. The ending of Aquaman left the door open for the story to evolve in many different ways, but it is expected that Black Manta will be the main villain. Wan has yet to officially sign on to direct the sequel, but it is now being written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick - the co-writer of the first film. Even though the script is still being written, the studios have already set a December 2022 release date for Aquaman 2.
The release window is not a surprise, but the four year gap is. This modern era of blockbusters and superhero franchises have made a habit of using a three year cycle, while the Disney era Star Wars trilogy has released new installments every other year. The only superhero franchise to recently wait four years between installments is Thor, as there was a similar gap between Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok. The difference here is that Chris Hemsworth returned as the god of thunder in the middle of this gap in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but there are currently no known plans for Momoa to do the same.
Even though Aquaman isn't scheduled to appear in any other films right now, the larger DC slate is likely one of the main factors behind this wait. Unlike Marvel Studios, DC Films has announced a full slate of films through 2021, with Aquaman 2 being the lone 2022 release right now. The studio has two films this year and in 2020, and it would take a serious rush to have Aquaman 2 ready by 2020 anyway. 2021 would be the film's release year under the usual three year model, but DC already has The Batman and The Suicide Squad scheduled for the summer (and the animated Super Pets), so they may not want to squeeze in an Aquaman sequel too. It is possible that DC could still visit the Aquaman world sooner though if The Trench spinoff movie moves quickly.
The other likely holdup for Aquaman 2 is the interest by WB and DC to keep the franchise in the winter season after the first made over $1 billion in this window. Even if the studios wanted to push the sequel out quicker, this would be near impossible without it having major competition. This year sees Lucasfilm return to December for Star Wars: Episode IX, but the real roadblocks for Aquaman 2 come from James Cameron. Fox (soon to be owned by Disney) have scheduled Avatar 2 for December 2020 and Avatar 3 for December 2021. Even though many are doubting that the Avatar sequels will be box office hits again, it is better for Aquaman 2 to not challenge the sequels to the highest grossing movie of all-time - and they also reportedly feature plenty of underwater sequences.
As of right now, Aquaman 2 just has an untitled Disney live-action film to compete with in its opening weekend, but that may not be a problem after the original easily outlasted Mary Poppins Returns. This wait gives Wan more time to take a break from the world before (hopefully) diving back in, prevents the sequel from being rushed through development, keeps the DC slate from becoming too big, and gives the sequel an early claim on a weekend that the franchise has already had success with. A four year wait for Aquaman 2 may be a bit longer than most would've expected, but it is probably for the best.
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- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- DC Super Pets (2022) release date: May 20, 2022
- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
- Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022