Warning: SPOILERS for Aquaman
Now that it's finally out in theaters, Aquaman is already looking to be one of the most successful movies in the DCEU. It’s also filled with Easter eggs, DC Comic references, and secret jokes. Considering how action-packed the movie’s battles become, fans have no chance at seeing every one of these hidden details or references in their first viewing. Which is why we’re here to help.
Director James Wan made it clear that he was drawing from a wide variety of inspirations in bringing the many moods, styles, and locations of the Aquaman movie to life. Which means that fans won’t only get to be on the lookout for nods back to the decades of Aquaman comic history, but of movies, too. Not to mention that incredible cameos that will go by completely unnoticed by almost all audiences-- but luckily we caught those.
So to make sure that every single Aquaman viewer can spot and enjoy the ridiculously obscure comic book Easter Eggs, the literary homages to masters of fantasy and science fiction, the Aquaman after-credits scene, and even a cameo suggesting the DCEU and the world of The Conjuring horror films are one and the same, we're collecting every reference and detail fans are most likely to miss, or forget. With one last spoiler warning for fans who wish to hunt down these Easter eggs on their own without any clues, let's get started.
Here is our breakdown of the 25 Things You Completely Missed In Aquaman.
25 The Trident Call over the opening credits
The effect of depicting the studio title cards in a different, underwater setting (complete with the sounds of water to match the camera's movements) is a nice touch to help take audiences into a superhero realm they've never dreamed of. But even better is the sound effect that is laid over the entire sequence, sounding like an unseen sonar ping, constantly thrumming.
Audiences won't recognize that it's actually the sound of King Atlan's pulsing trident, quite literally calling Aquaman home to his rightful throne from the very first seconds of his movie's opening.
24 The Mother Box
Considering how it was received by critics and fans, many comic buffs expected to see the events (and existence) of the Justice League movie completely ignored in Aquaman's solo follow-up. But when appealing to Arthur's sense of heroism, Mera does allude to his battle with Steppenwolf. However, the best Atlantean Easter Egg comes courtesy of Arthur's mother, Queen Atlanna.
It isn't spoken, but fans will want to observe her craft creation on the sofa table in her lighthouse home. The box isn't a perfect copy of the Atlantean Mother Box, but the designs and accents are obvious enough to confirm Atlanna was familiar with the relic, decades before Steppenwolf returned to claim it.
23 Orm's Man of Steel Callback
The parallels between Aquaman and Superman are too numerous to list, but their matching durability and muscle bound silhouettes aren't the only reason their stories are intertwined in the DCEU. Jason Momoa is one of the fans who believe the whales swimming by Clark in Man of Steel after his fiery oil platform rescue were sent by Aquaman.
To reciprocate that Easter Egg, just watch closely when King Orm explains why the surface world deserves to be punished. He lists several examples of pollution and violence, but among the first images conjured is a familiar-looking inferno on a collapsing oil derrick. That Man of Steel moment mattered for a lot of people, apparently.
22 A Tease of Green Lantern in The DCEU?
The fact that there is no Green Lantern confirmed to exist alongside the Justice League heroes, and no concrete hint that DC Films is in the process of casting one, the appearance of an alien Green Lantern in Justice League's ancient prologue is just salt in the wound. But stay for the after-credits scene, and you'll get one more Easter Egg to keep hope for Hal Jordan alive.
Dr. Stephen Shin has plenty of newspaper clippings lining the walls of his workspace, spreading the reports of a mystery Aquaman across the globe. But ignore the headlines, and notice that one of the newspapers is the daily news for Coast City, home of Hal Jordan. We won't hold our breath, but seeing Coast City added into the DCEU is a thrill no matter what.
21 Khal Drogo's wrappings
Star Jason Momoa speaks fondly of his time on the HBO series Game of Thrones, which thrust him into the spotlight for his barbaric, but undeniably charismatic performance as Khal Drogo, the man who spoke Dothraki as little as possible, and fought more often.
He's a far cry from the kind of king that Arthur Curry is trying to be, but it seems the movie still pokes fun at Momoa's past role. After he and Mera escape from Sicily on a stolen boat, Arthur awakens to find his midsection and wrists bound tightly in kelp. They're fictionally there to heal his burns. But for the audience, it's a sudden return to his signature Khal Drogo wrappings. Nicely done.
20 The Annabelle Doll
You didn't really think director James Wan would make the leap from horror films to superhero adventures without bringing some of his old friends along for the ride, did you? While the Trench make up the horror quotient for this film, audiences should keep their eyes peeled for a cameo from everyone's favorite demonic doll.
When Mera and Arthur retrieve her aquatic vehicle from a shipping container filled with rotting fish, watch the sea floor as the two flee the scene. Her pale face and dress help her to stand out against the surrounding garbage, but once you spot the Annabelle doll, the real reason for all those rotting fish becomes clear.
19 Aquaman's Pet Octopus on Drums
Since even modern fans of the Aquaman comics, especially those familiar with Geoff Johns' run (which has clearly inspired Wan's movie version) may be totally oblivious to the proud, ridiculous tradition of Topo the Octopus, allow us to explain. The smarter-than-average Cephalopod debuted way back in Adventure Comics #229 in 1965, as the first named octopus to assist Arthur Curry.
At the time he was just one of a few sea creatures Aquaman was training up as a sidekick, but Topo's willingness to learn (music) soon gave him the edge. While he isn't Arthur's pet just yet, Topo appears pounding drums to set the mood for Arthur and Orm's ring of fire battle.
18 The Size of Black Manta's Helmet
The official costume of the former pirate turned supervillain Black Manta is many things, but understated isn't one of them. And while the movie recreates his outfit perfectly - even making his optic blasts and tech originate from Atlantis in this version of the story - director James Wan finds a clever way to still comment on the absurd size of Manta's helmet.
Manta assembles a more logical helmet to house the weaponry, but it is absolutely shattered after a single firing. Manta notes that he's going to need a bigger helmet - simultaneously a joke for comic fans, AND a reference to Jaws.
17 Stingray on the TV
There are more than a few reasons to compare the tone, sense of humor, and level of villainous scheming in Aquaman to Saturday morning cartoons, or even science fiction television shows. And as it turns out, they don't even need to be TV shows relying on human actors, either. And yes, we are referring to Thunderbird-style puppets.
Specifically, their underwater variant, made famous in the TV show Stingray. The unfamiliar will spot the show playing on Tom Curry's television set when the power to his lighthouse returns, he was promoting Queen Atlanna to view it as a threat, and hurl her quindent straight through it. The similarities between Aquaman's underwater intrigue and that of Stingray is all that needs be said to make this choice a delight for fans.
16 Aquaman Rides a Sea Horse
For all the awareness that the original Super Friends cartoon, and the Aquaman adventures that followed brought to Arthu Curry, they may not have been worth the damage done, making jokes or laughable Memes based on his aquatic tendencies. Chief among them being his ability to water ski on the backs of small fish, or ride proudly into battle... on a giant seahorse.
The Aquaman movie rights most of those wrongs, but none feels more personal than Arthur's final fight against Orm. Having proven himself a worthy king, and used his powers to ride the Karathen into combat, Arthur sets his sights on the last stigma - mounting a massive seahorse dragon to make his final charge against his half brother, Orm.
15 Aquaman's evil twin
To say that Jason Momoa doesn't look like the 'classic' version of Aquaman would be a heck of an understatement. For some, that departure from his most recognizable (and most mocked) appearance was a welcome change, if not a necessity to take him seriously alongside the rest of the Justice League. But to drive home the point, just look at his nemesis.
Patrick Wilson has mentioned in numerous interviews that his appearance as Orm appears to be a bit of a tongue-in-cheek joke from his director. Not only is Aquaman a far cry from the pale-skinned, blond-haired, and clean cut vision of Aquaman everyone expected... but his half-brother and nemesis fits that description perfectly.
14 Mary Poppins is The Karathen
The DC movies distinguished themselves early on by recruiting tru A-list celebrities, not just famous in Hollywood, but respected as some of the best dramatic actors of their generations. The same can be said of more than one member of Aquaman’s cast, but the best surprise comes in a cameo most audiences will never even notice. Especially not coming from the great Karathen threatening to eat Aquaman whole if he be deemed unworthy.
The voice is none other than Julie Andrews, star of The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, and the childhood of half the movie’s audience. She turned down the chance to make a cameo in Mary Poppins Returns, but for reasons everyone should understand, took the chance to voice the mighty Karathen in Aquaman (which opens against the family-friendly, magical sequel).
13 Gimli is The Brine King
Julie Andrews isn’t the only esteemed cameo to come in the form of a modulated voice emitted from a not-quite-human inhabitant of the sea. The same honor goes to the role of the Brine King - the leader of the final kingdom of Atlantis to be shown, entering the battlefield to oppose Orm and Atlantis from invading their own territory.
Even if the Brine King’s face is never shown, leaving only his eyes and voice to refuse loyalty to King Orm, they get the job done. Which is mostly a credit to his voice actor, John Rhys-Davies, more than experienced in commanding respect from his taller, more ‘handsome’ co-stars as Gimli in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
12 The Star Wars/Indiana Jones Sound Effect
It’s hard to think of a director or film franchise more honored or paid homage to than Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, for their work on Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark. The pair combined their talents to rejuvenate not just Harrison Ford’s career, but the genres of fantasy and adventure. As a result, the shared Easter Egg DNA between the two runs deep. One of the best is delivered through audio only-- the sounds of a fighter plane engine starting up, or stalling, and every fan knows the sound, even if they can’t call it to mind.
The metallic whining sound made sense when used for the actual plane at the start of Raiders, and less when it was used to mark a failed ignition on the Millennium Falcon. Aquaman pays homage to these adventures by having the same sound punctuate the failure of Atlantean pursuit vehicles, shot down while chasing Mera and Arthur from Atlantis.
11 Black Manta's Father is Justice League's Devil Ray
Michael Beach isn’t the first actor to lend their voice to one of DC’s animated TV shows or feature films, as well as a live action role, but the characters he played are what make his inclusion such a strange twist of fate. Beach may be best known as the voice of Mister Terrific in the Justice League Unlimited series, but he also supplied the voice for the villain Devil Ray.
Why is that strange? Because Devil Ray was intended to be Black Manta, before rights issues required the subtle change in name and costume. So even if Beach didn’t get to voice Black Manta as intended, he does get to play the father of the first live-action incarnation.
10 Showing Love For Lovecraft
When Atlanna and Tom share their first cups of tea, one of the movie’s most sly Easter Eggs is delivered, but viewers will need to look below the snowglobe depicting the lighthouse to see it. The globe sits atop H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror, a collection of short stories by the famed mind behind the Cthulu Mythos.
The titular story is itself a tale of a hated son, born of two different species, albeit far more eerie than Arthur. But with the mention of Lovecraft, the emergence of the colossal Karathen in the film’s final act shouldn’t have been a surprise at all.
9 Djimon Hounsou's DCEU Double-Duty
Much was made over the casting and reveal of Djimon Hounsou as the human/fish hybrid Fisherman King, ruler of one of the seven overall tribes of Atlantis. After all, after being confirmed to play the wizard in DC's Shazam movie, and returning to his Guardians of the Galaxy role in Captain Marvel, Aquaman makes the third superhero movie in a single year to have Hounsou in its cast. But as strong as his performance may be in Aquaman, it's anything but lengthy.
8 Dinosaur Island
The discovery of a hidden sea and a prehistoric oasis concealed at the center of the world may be one massive homage to Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth, or even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World - but there is also a DC Comics equivalent to consider. And it's one with a name that couldn't be easier to remember: Dinosaur Island.
The island lost to time and the outside world has been a mainstay of the stranger side of the DC Universe for years. Did fans ever expect to see it adapted to the DCEU? Of course not. Now, here's hoping that the dinosaurs are actually left alone in this version of the tale.
7 Ocean Master's Bubbles of Rage
The first time audiences see Atlanteans move from water to dry land, and effectively vomit out all of the water in their bodies, it’s going to make a mark. But once fans realize that the vomit is actually the undersea beings emptying their lungs of water to replace with air, it all makes sense. It also sets up one of the finer details of the film, when Mera creates an underwater vacuum around Orm, forcing him to empty out his lungs, before she sends the water crashing back down.
The good news is that Orm’s resulting scream of anger sends the air in his lungs erupting in the form of bubbles - the director’s nod to the long-held belief that if an Aquaman movie were to be made, the actors would have air bubbles constantly spouting from their mouths.
6 Murk, Guard of Atlantis
The version of Murk, the top guard of Atlantis seen in the movie is quite different from the version in the comics. On the printed page, he’s a massive, hulking brawler with a battle-scarred face and a metal harpoon for an arm. In the film, he’s played by Ludi Lin, and taken in a different direction. However, his fight with Mera in Sicily does leave a serious mark.
Viewers might not notice the moment that Mera slices clean through his arm, but they’ll surely notice the stump being healed over by the Atlantean armor’s inner liquid. Making the movie Murk one step closer to his comic book counterpart.
5 The True King, Romulus
The theme of brotherhood and rivalry continues into even the clue offered up by King Atlan as part of the search for his famous trident. The hint is to place the bottle into the hands of the true king, with Arthur having no trouble discovering which famous classical figure Atlan was referring to. The answer is Romulus, the first King of Rome. But the meaning goes much deeper.
That's because Romulus is just one half of the story, with the other being his brother, Remus. Born together, nursed by a wolf together, and both hoping to build a new empire with the founding of Rome, Romulus began his ascent to the leader of the coming Rome by eliminating - who else? - His brother Remus.
4 The Trident Cover Shot
Once Arthur has proven himself worthy - first to the Karathen, then to late King Atlan himself, he pulls the trident free, raising it before him. But it's only when he draws the trident in front of his face, and peers through the spaces between its points that he gains his connection to all sea life. Later during the final battle, Arthur once again draws the trident before him as a means to seemingly channel his power.
We won't speak to that theory here, but the image of Arthur with the trident on front of his face is an unforgettable one, pulled straight from the comics. It's appeared more than once, but most recently formed the cover of Aquaman #30, drawn by artist Stepan Sejic.
3 The Jules Verne Quote
Arthur's narration opens the movie, beginning the love story of his parents using a Jules Verne quote: "Put two ships in the open sea, without wind or tide, and, at last, they will come together." It's a lovely comment on his parents being fated to fall in love, but the rest of the quote also speaks to Arthur's own villains.
"Throw two planets into space, and they will fall one on the other. Place two enemies in the midst of a crowd, and they will inevitably meet; it is a fatality, a question of time; that is all." And if that doesn't describe comic book heroes and their nemeses, we don't know what does.
2 Leigh Whannell's Pilot Cameo
James Wan may have won accolades in the horror genre with films like Saw and Insidious, but much of that same credit belongs with Leigh Wannell, Wan’s friend and collaborator who helped create both horror franchises. And as a means of showing his appreciation, Wan gives Wannell a certified spot in the DC movie universe.
No, he’s not playing a superhero, or even a superhuman Atlantean. Horror fans can watch out for the Australian pilot that Arthur and Mera hire to fly them over the Sahara, to see Leigh Wannell as they never have before.
1 The Man of Steel Homage
The above image is part of the shot that actually concludes the film, with Aquaman glimmering in the ancient armor of his people, trident held above his head, soaring straight up towards the surface - and the water doing its very best to help conjure the image of Henry Cavill's Superman breaking the sound barrier.
Considering how closely Zack Snyder and James Wan worked to bring the aquatic hero to movie audiences - first in Batman v Superman and Justice League, preparing Arthur for his launch into Aquaman - the shared imagery makes sense, even if James Wan doesn't confirm it as an explicit callout to his creative collaborator.
There you have it: all the DC Comic references, easy-to-miss Easter Eggs, and homages that we could find in the Aquaman movie. If you've spotted any that we miss, be sure to share them in the comments.