Aquaman's Ending Explained: What It Means For Atlantis & DC's Future

WARNING: Spoilers for Aquaman.

Aquaman's ending concludes Arthur Curry's journey to becoming the king of Atlantis, but it leaves the door open for his next adventure. Directed by James Wan and starring Jason Momoa in the title role, Aquaman is an epic fantasy tale that provides the tonal shift the DC movie universe has needed.

The kingdom of Atlantis and the seven seas are realized on a grand scale as Arthur Curry averts catastrophe by preventing King Orm (Patrick Wilson) from using Atlantean forces to wage war on the surface world. In doing so, Arthur becomes the king of Atlantis, fulfilling his destiny of uniting the seven underwater kingdoms under one banner and bringing an age of peace to the underwater realms.

Related: DC Movies Coming After Aquaman: Shazam, Joker & More

But it's a victory hard fought, with Aquaman's third act taking the form of an enormous skirmish between the collective forces King Orm has strong-armed into joining him and those resisting his violent, oppressive ideas. It's a lot to take in, and Aquaman's ending leaves quite a bit to consider for the franchise going forward.

What Happens In Aquaman's Ending

Fishermen Army Aquaman

Featuring a crustacean army, a kaiju, and soldiers riding into battle on the backs of sharks, Aquaman's ending and climactic battle isn't short of visual flair. King Orm leads the troops of three kingdoms: Atlantis, Xebel, and the Fishermen. Orm's forceful tactics of persuasion have not sat well with the Brine, a population of crab-like creatures who've decided to enact civil war rather than follow the Ocean Master's lead. A massive, violent clash ensues, and gate-crashed by Aquaman, who wields King Atlan's Trident, an ancient weapon that controls the seven seas and makes the wielder the rightful heir to the throne of Atlantis.

Aquaman brings with him the might of Trench, a kingdom that has devolved into Xenomorph-like savages, and the Karathen, a leviathan that guarded King Atlan's Trident against those who were unworthy. With the help of Aquaman's newly strengthened abilities of communing with fish, they force back Orm's advances, and the fight gradually shifts into a one-on-one between Aquaman and Ocean Master, which gives the two sons of Queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) a rematch to their duel from earlier in the movie.

Related: Aquaman Post-Credits Scene Explained

creThe back-and-forth eventually ends in Aquaman's favor, with Atlanna returning from the "dead" to end the bloodshed between her two sons. Aquaman ultimately tells Orm the door is open for reconciliation and accepts his position as the king - and hero - of Atlantis, which helps usher in a new era of peace for the seven seas. After all, it had been the first time in however many years that the united kingdoms of Atlantis have had one leader to rule.

Why King Orm's Plan In Aquaman Failed

Aquaman Patrick Wilson as Orm

Aquaman takes a similar approach as Black Panther, at least with regards to its villain, Killmonger. In Aquaman, King Orm, just like Killmonger in Black Panther, is of royal lineage - and he isn't wrong in his fundamental ideas. Orm is disgusted by the way humans treat the oceans, by dumping trash, polluting the water, and killing and affecting innumerable species, as well as irreparably harming the environment. Orm wants humans gone, and he believes Atlantis has the military might and technology to eradicate humans from the surface... with a surprise invasion.

In truth, Orm's rage is honestly in the right place – human beings have not been kind to wildlife and the environment. And Aquaman's invocation of this may be heavy-handed, but much like Black Panther's focus on racism, it's heavy-handed because there's no need to tip-toe around it since these are genuine problems.

Related: How Aquaman Was Different In The Snyder Cut of Justice League

However, Orm's strategy had no long-term benefit, and the other, still living kingdoms can see that. A successful invasion of the surface world would create a long, bloody war with untold casualties, and Orm's politicking through murder and intimidation didn't do much to inspire anyone the wiser, hence the Brine choosing to resist him rather than bow down. What's being done to marine-life is wrong, but exposing Atlantis in the same breath as they create global warfare isn't going to help anyone - human, Atlanteans, or otherwise.

Page 2 of 2: Atlantis is Still Secret & Aquaman's Future as King and Superhero

1 2
Key Release Dates
  • 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
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
Netflix’s The Laundromat Cast & Character Guide

More in SR Originals