What The Comic-Con Footage Does Better
It truly is baffling that the second bit of footage, shown exclusively to those in Hall H, wasn't the basis for the trailer actually released to the public. Unlike first official trailer, the second, five-minute long sequence begins with calm shots of tropical waters as Arthur's narration speaks to the greater significance of his birth, not as just the son of a lighthouse keeper and a queen:
My parents were from different worlds. And I was the product of a love that never should have been. A son of the land. And a son of the seas.
It's a more mythic introduction, which also not-so-subtly parallels Arthur's mixed heritage with biracial children of the real world. So when Mera enters through narration to claim he is "the bridge" between worlds, and must accept his rightful role as king, the stakes, and his decision are clear (and strongly resonant with his character scenes in BvS).
From there, it's two minutes following Arthur and Mera as they search through the Sahara Desert for an Atlantean temple. They find it - which Arthur remarks is "badass!" (it is) - and unlock the dead King Atlan's secret message. It's a scene out of Raiders of the Lost Ark, and one which Arthur punctuates with an unexpected joke... that proves his alternative solution actually would have worked, too. The real winner of the scene is Momoa and Heard's onscreen chemistry, completely absent in the first trailer.
The message from King Atlan about the power of his trident is accompanied by shots of Atlantis and its people at the height of their reign. Next come shots of Vulko teaching Arthur to fight and defend himself using his mother's quindent, and maybe even minor water manipulation himself. Orm seeking an alliance with King Nereus of Xebel, too, helping to suggest an understandable plot.
But the best action sequence is only glimpsed in the trailer, and shown at length in this extra footage.
A scene in which Black Manta ambushes Aquaman and Mera in dramatic fashion, equipped with a new suit of armor and some armored Atlantean soldiers. Gifts from Orm, presumably, to kill Aquaman. The chase that follows is the most memorable sequence, with Mera running on rooftops pursued beneath (reminiscent to the Bucky/Cap chase from Captain America: The Winter Soldier) as Arthur simply leaps to avoid Manta's laser blasts. The camera work, stunts, and effects all sing in these extended shots, and raise our hopes and expectations for Wan's action filmmaking all on their own.
The footage concludes with Arthur stating he's no king - not a problem, Mera implies, since Atlantis has always had a king. Now, "they need something greater... a hero." And with that, Momoa emerges, trident in hand, dressed in Aquaman's classic orange and green scale armor.
So, yes, our hopes are high for Aquaman. But unless you were there to see the footage in Hall H... that may not be the case.
This #SDCC post is brought to you in partnership with Regal Cinemas.