According to Aquaman director James Wan there's no plot hole in his movie as it relates to 2017's Justice League. While Aquaman has been warmly received critically and smashed several box office records, the movie has still received some criticism for how it relates to the larger DCEU. Although Jason Momoa's first appearance as Arthur Curry was in Batman v. Superman, the character's proper introduction was in Justice League, and it's one of Aquaman's earliest Justice League scenes that has caused a bit of controversy.
Early on in Justice League, Arthur is swimming deep underwater where he comes across, seemingly by random, one of the Mother Boxes that is under Atlantean protection. The casual nature in which Arthur swims up to the Mother Box makes the scene appear to be a contradiction of his solo movie where Aquaman, very dramatically, visits the city of Atlantis for the first time. In reality, the confusion has been an overblown misunderstanding as there is an in-universe explanation for Aquaman's entrance to Atlantis and the scene in Justice League.
In an interview with HuffPost, Wan was asked directly about the seeming plot hole. The director was very straightforward in his explanation. Wan put to bed all discussion of the Aquaman "plot hole" by explaining that the location of the Justice League scene wasn't Atlantis, saying:
It wasn’t Atlantis. I spoke with Zack [Snyder, director of Justice League,] early on, and Zack mentioned that the location that Aquaman swims to in Justice League is an outpost. So when he told me that was his idea, I was like, 'Oh great, then I can actually have Arthur go to Atlantis for the first time.' That’s very important for me, because he can go into it and have a wide-eyed approach to Atlantis and be in awe of it. I think that’s very important from a storytelling standpoint because the audience gets to experience Atlantis for the first time along with the character.
Wan went on to explain that it was very important for him that Arthur have not seen Atlantis proper before his movie began. Arthur couldn't be "jaded" about Atlantis because then the audience would feel similarly. Wan compared the moment Arthur enters Atlantis to the main characters seeing dinosaurs for the first time in Jurassic Park. Aquaman is just as wowed, ideally, as the audience in seeing his homeland for the first time ever. It's hard to argue with James Wan either. Aquaman's introduction to Atlantis would've lost a lot of its appeal if Arthur has been dismissive of it. In the finished product the usually surly Arthur being in awe has as big an impact as any of Atlantis' visual spectacles.
As for how it relates to the Mother Box scene, Aquaman or Justice League probably could've been a little bit more explicit about Arthur only going to an outpost. After all, during their first interaction in Aquaman, Mera and Arthur do reference Steppenwolf's invasion in Justice League and their involvement in the attack. In retrospect, though, Wan's explanation does fit with both Aquaman and Justice League - at least in a visual sense. In Justice League, the Mother Box does appear to be stored at a very remote location and one that looks very different from the bright and colorful city of Atlantis. There's nowhere in Aquaman's Altantis that looks anything like the spot where the Mother Box is being kept in Justice League.
Wan's explanation gives some assurance that there is a sense of planning going on in the DCEU despite public perception. However, it doesn't completely absolve Aquaman of continuity problems, even in the Mother Box scene issues linger. Arthur's attitude to his mother in Justice League is very harsh with a lot of anger aimed directly at her for leaving him. In Aquaman, though, Arthur's anger is aimed at Atlantis for taking his mother away from him and his father. At least Wan's explanation takes away one of Aquaman's issues.
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019