Aquaman's After-Credits Scene Explained

Black Manta Aquaman and Lex Luthor

WARNING: Spoilers for Aquaman.

Aquaman's after-credits scene delivers on one of the movie's recurring gags and even sets up a sequel. Directed by James Wan, the latest DC blockbuster tells an epic tale of political turmoil in kingdom of Atlantis. Despite its massive scale, the journey of Jason Momoa's Arthur Curry to unite the seven underwater kingdoms is also very insular, containing almost no mention of any other DCEU movies, and that includes the tease that comes in the end credits.

Sure enough, fans hoping for a tease of another possible crossover or an appearance from Ben Affleck's Batman or Henry Cavill's Superman, or even Zachary Levi's Shazam, will be disappointed. As far as Arthur's concerned, he's a lone wolf whose part in the Justice League movie was a one-time deal to save the world. Arthur was more than happy to continue living his life in the shadows, but it's another series of events that bring him back into the fold.

Related: How DC Films & The DCEU Really Works

And then, by the end of Aquaman, Arthur Curry finally becomes the king of Atlantis, a realm that was almost torn apart by an attempt to wage war on the surface world. Going by what audiences see in Aquaman's after-credits scene, Arthur's worries about the divide between the surface world and Atlantis may just be getting started.

What Happens In Aquaman's After-Credits Scene?

Broken, beaten, and adrift at sea after his failed attempt to kill Aquaman in Sicily, David Hyde, aka Black Manta, is discovered by a small fishing boat off the Italian coast in Aquaman's after-credits scene. Waking up on-board with his suit off and bandages on his wounds, Hyde notices someone - Randall Park's Dr. Stephen Shin - tinkering with the damaged remains of his suit. Black Manta warns Dr. Shin that the technology is volatile just before the helmet shoots a beam that melts a hole in the roof. Knowing this kind of advanced weaponry could only come from one place, Shin excitedly asks David if he somehow got the equipment from Atlantis, which Hyde confirms.

Related: The Aquaman Movie's 10 Biggest Spoilers & Twists

Finally having someone and something that prove Atlantis and Atlanteans exist, Dr. Shin pleads with Black Manta to take him there. Black Manta agrees on the condition that, in the process, Dr. Shin will help him find and kill Aquaman (after Aquaman chose not to save Black Manta's father, despite being attacked by the pirate and DC supervillain), throwing a knife through a newspaper article tacked to the wall speculating on the identity and existence of the fabled Aquaman.

Who Is Dr. Stephen Shin?

Dr. Stephen Shin Aquaman Comics

A newer addition to the Aquaman ensemble, Dr. Stephen Shin is a marine biologist obsessed with visiting Atlantis. Created in 2011 by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis, Dr. Shin debuted early in Aquaman's New 52 run, and has been a recurring character ever since. Dr. Shin was friends with Tom Curry - Arthur's father - in the comics, and was a fundamental part of Arthur's life while he was growing up; he helped the half-Atlantean understand his powers in the hope that their bond would lead to Arthur telling him how to find Atlantis. When Arthur continually refuses, Dr. Shin betrays him by revealing his identity to the world.

Something of an anti-hero, Dr. Shin's incredible knowledge of marine biology and associated sciences has made him an asset to Arthur and Mera, assisting them in investigating strange creatures and old Atlantean artifacts. However, his obsession with Atlantis makes it difficult for Arthur to trust or forgive him, and he  maintains a distant relationship unless Dr. Shin is targeted by one of his enemies, such as Black Manta. The Aquaman movie version is an interesting spin on the character, as it retains that Dr. Shin is one of the world's foremost experts on Atlantis and marine biology, but it cuts out Dr. Shin's comic history with the Curry family. In Aquaman, Dr. Shin is a regular expert panelist on news and current affairs shows, discussing the “Aquaman,” and trying to tell people that Atlantis is a real place while everyone guffaws at such a notion.

Related: How Much Did Aquaman Cost To Make?

Dr. Shin's presence is mostly world-building and comic relief, acting as an audience-insert for the naive people that refuse to believe in Atlantis' existence. But there's a darker inflection with his refusal to entertain the notion that he might be wrong. When Black Manta wakes up in Dr. Shin's boat, the walls are covered in newspaper clippings – this is the biologist's life's work, and that makes him an easy target for manipulation. He would do anything to get to Atlantis and show the world that he's not crazy, and as such he makes a deal with a mortal enemy of Arthur Curry's, whose actions nearly caused a global war between Atlantis and the surface world. Of course, Dr. Shin couldn't know Black Manta and Aquaman's history, but that the Atlantean technology doesn't worry him demonstrates that his sense of reason and morality is definitely a little off-kilter.

Page 2 of 2: Black Manta's Future In Aquaman 2... And Justice League 2

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Key Release Dates
  • Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
  • Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
  • Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
  • Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
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