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

Atlantis Is United, But Still A Secret

Atlantis, Xebel, the Fishermen, the Trench, and the Brine accept Arthur as their king, effectively uniting the surviving underwater kingdoms into a unified Atlantis for the first time in centuries. This was Aquaman's manifest destiny as a half-human, half-Atlantean child, someone who can bridge the gap between the two worlds and bring forth a new age of prosperity. But as joyous as this is, it doesn't mean Atlantis will be revealed to the United Nations, ala the post-credits scene of Black Panther.

Despite the implication that Arthur being of both worlds is what Atlantis needs, as well as the visual of the climax being above water-level, the underwater empire is still unknown to most humans, and that is unlikely to change. Any form of communication that Aquaman has with surface leaders will need to be carefully coordinated in order to prevent Atlantean tech from being abused or Atlanteans themselves used for testing. After all, Atlantean technology is much more advanced than human technology, in the same way Black Panther's tech was advanced.

Related: How DC Films & The DCEU Really Works

In the Aquaman comics, Dr. Stephen Shin (played by Randall Park), the scientist trying to convince the world of Atlantis' existence introduced in the movie, has a rocky relationship with Arthur Curry because of the secrecy. Arthur works hard to protect Atlantis and all associated with it from prying eyes, and Dr. Shin's need to explore the realm makes him a liability. At one point, their friendship is damaged because Dr. Shin outs Arthur as Aquaman in a moment of anger. Black Manta's appearances, too, are predicated on invading Atlantis and drawing out Arthur, and doing so without drawing much outside attention because he wants to be the one that kills Aquaman. This is at the core of who Black Manta is as a villain.

What will be interesting going into Aquaman 2 is whether a legitimate seventh underwater kingdom is introduced. Aquaman had a seventh location - the Hidden Sea - a place invented for the movie. Being at the Earth's core and only accessible via the trench, it seems likely that isn't actually one of Atlantis' original kingdoms but just a good place to hide something you want hidden, like a mythical trident. An actual final kingdom that takes umbrage with a half-breed sitting on the throne would be easy pickings for Arthur's first big test at diplomacy, should Aquaman 2 happen.

Aquaman Now Has A Kingdom To Worry About

Being a king and a superhero will not be an easy life to balance. Most heroes can barely manage holding down a regular job while they save the world. Arthur can no longer be the apathetic mysterious hero going solo; everything he does must be for a reason because his time will be in demand. When the Justice League calls, it will need to be urgent for Aquaman to get involved, and, sadly, it's doubtful Aquaman will be saving as many submarines as he has been up to now.

Related: What Aquaman's Success (Or Failure) Means For The DCEU

By the same token, the king of the seven seas has a massive weakness in Atlantis. If someone wanted to separate him from the Justice League, attacking Atlantis at the same time as another target would be a very easy way to do it. Sure, Arthur has Mera and other characters ready to stand-in for him, but he is the king, and a king needs to be around in order for followers to have faith in his leadership. Dealing with a surface world threat while Atlantis is hurt will not be good for morale among the populace.

As such, the armies of Atlantis probably won't be stepping out of Atlantis to fight by their leader's side either. Their primary worry is their own domain and keeping what's left of it safe and intact. If the next big DC crossover needs an Atlantean cavalry, the less conspicuous Mera and some other trusted companions are more likely to be supplying aid than a troop of crab soldiers. But this is in part what makes the Aquaman comics interesting to read, as he's a fundamentally different character than the rest of the Justice League members, and so seeing how Arthur Curry balances being the king of Atlantis and being a superhero is something that could be further explored in Aquaman 2.

More: DCEU Complete Movie Timeline (From Man of Steel To Aquaman)

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
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