Arthur & Orm Have a Heart-to-Heart
The next scene takes place in the "ring of fire" shown in trailers and promotional stills, as Arthur stands face to face with Orm (Patrick Wilson), his half-brother and current occupant of the throne of Atlantis. The scene actually begins with Orm and Mera having words before the coming fight, as the king offers her a piece of jewelry that belonged to his mother, Atlanna. Mera's response is one of anger, suggesting that she and Orm grew up together since childhood, but clearly holding different opinions of his mother.
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Queen Atlanna would be ashamed of Orm's actions, Mera claims, since he is practicing ideologies completely opposed to what she advocated. Orm is unmoved, sending Mera away while revealing that she is intended to be his bride, and future Queen of Atlantis. It's unclear how much of that arrangement Arthur is aware of when he's ushered into this lava-filled room, but he has his own words for Orm.
Their exchange isn't hostile, conveying more depth of character and storytelling than any other (far less fantastical or 'whimsical' than the prologue). When Arthur tells Orm that he spent his entire life wishing he could meet his little brother, and tell him he wasn't alone, the words have a visible impact on the apparent villain. When Arthur regretfully says he now wishes he knew "what a dick he'd turn out to be," it's not delivered as the punchline it could be. When Orm responds by defining Arthur as the reason their mother was - SPOILER - executed, it becomes obvious that both sides of this dispute have reason to feel justified.
Orm respects Arthur's claim to the throne, but the half-land-dweller must convince Atlantis that he is a worthy king by defeating his true Atlantean kin. A task easier said than done, which is why Orm seems to convincingly ask Arthur to take his offer: leave Atlantis, and never return. Arthur refuses, and with one last expletive to himself, heads up into the battle.
Arthur & Orm Fight
It's here where James Wan and his team dive headlong into fantasy once again, as the massive gladiator arena is placed amongst/throughout massive rock statues of armored warriors. The lights used to illuminate the action for the crowd? Jellyfish. The warlike drumming to set the mood? Played by octopus, rhythmically pounding like a mature take on Disney's "Under The Sea." And Orm is done playing nice.
The slamming together of the two fighters' tridents to begin the fight is shown in the trailer (not the impact shockwave, which comes later, caused by Arthur and Orm smashing into each other head on). Orm notes that Arthur uses his mother's weapon: strong, elegant, but flawed - like her. He instead uses his father's weapon, which has known only victory. The brawl that follows is a promising use of the freedom water affords, which we cover in great detail in our look at how Aquaman's underwater fighting differs from Justice League.
But before Orm is able to defeat the seriously-unprepared Arthur, Mera leaps from her balcony to intervene. Creating a massive column of air (as she did in Justice League) Orm is temporarily disarmed. As she sends the water slamming back down on top of him, Arthur hops into her aquatic getaway car, and they're off.
Arthur & Mera Head To The Desert
The final scene shown to us as part of our visit appears to be an uncut version of Arthur and Mera skydiving out of their airplane over the Sahara desert. The new detail is the pocket sized, holographic map Mera is using to track an unknown target (a sign of Atlantean technology far beyond mankind's). Despite being in the middle of a massive desert, she bolts upright to exclaim that they have "arrived" over the desired location, and leaps from the plane. Following after her, both Mera and Arthur slam into the sand without parachutes - confirming just how much more durable they are than regular humans.
The scene that follows consists solely of Mera and Arthur picking their way across the sands to wherever it is Mera is taking them (a spot fans now know is the lost Atlantean temple swallowed up by the sand). As Arthur laments her decision to put them in as isolated and barren a place as can be found on Earth, Mera mocks Arthur for choosing such a surface world to inhabit. Momoa's frustrated replies that not ALL of the surface world is desert, and Heard's own pestering over mankind's tendency to pollute and poison shows how their chemistry can rise to crowd-pleasing levels.
The selling point of their banter is Momoa's own energy and charisma, with Heard's aside to nobody that 'Atlantis is in trouble' if he's their best hope rings more old-fashioned than modern action-adventure, but with Romancing The Stone as one of Wan's biggest inspirations, we supposed that's to be expected.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018