Confirmed: DC Officially Replaces Classic ‘Aquaman’ Character 

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Amber Heard as Mera (L) and Jason Momoa as Aquaman (R) in 'Aquaman'

Credit: DC Studios

In just over a month, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023) from director James Wan will officially hit movie theaters after multiple production delays. But the man behind the feature film has revealed that one classic DC character has been replaced in the superhero sequel.

Jason Momoa as Aquaman screaming into battle
Credit: DC Studios

As the last film in the current DC Extended Universe, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is the sequel to DC’s surprising $1 billion hit, Aquaman (2018). Bringing Jason Momoa back as the titular guardian of the ocean and member of the Justice League, the Aquaman sequel will continue the story of the hero’s rise to becoming the King of Atlantis.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom has been caught in the net of recent controversies, such as the highly-publicized lawsuit and trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. Heard, of course, starred as Mera in the first Aquaman movie, but her position in the sequel laid as a point of contention for months.

Amber Heard as Mera in Aquaman
Credit: DC Studios

During the trial, many different stories emerged about how much Heard would appear in the DC film, if at all. Rumors of her being vanquished from the feature altogether were squashed upon the first teaser trailer’s release. That said, many are still planning on boycotting the Warner Bros. and DC Studios movie for keeping her in the film at all, even after the jury found she had defamed her former husband, Johnny Depp, with her now-disclaimed essay in The Washington Post. Depp was ousted from Warner Bros.’s other major franchise, Fantastic Beasts, after his loss at the 2020 libel trial against The Sun and News Group Newspapers LTD.

In addition to the Heard controversy, it seems Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is on track for a lukewarm theatrical run, thanks to its position as the last film in the current DCEU. At the start of 2023, new co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran revealed the first chapter — “Gods and Monsters” — in their upcoming reboot of the DC franchise, the DC Universe, or DCU.

Amber Heard as Mera in 'Aquaman'
Credit: DC Studios

Related: Tom Hiddleston on Track To Solve Disney’s Major “Johnny Depp” Problem

Movies in the new DCU will include Gunn’s own Superman: Legacy (2025), starring David Corenswet and Rachel Brosnahan, and the new Batman flick, The Brave and the Bold (TBD). TV projects include Creature Commandos, Waller, Lanterns, and Paradise Lost.

But back to the present and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will boast many familiar faces, as well as newcomers Indya Moore as Karshon, Jani Zhao as Stingray, and Pilou Asbæk in a currently undisclosed role. Upon hearing of Moore’s casting as Karshon, which was announced in 2021, many were intrigued about how the classic shark character would be brought to life on screen in the second movie. And it now turns out, maybe not quite how people expected.

Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry holding trident in DC's 'Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom' (2023)
Credit: DC Studios

James Wan has confirmed that Indya Moore’s Karshon will not be honoring the comic book roots of the character and instead seemingly be a new version of the character altogether. Speaking to Empire (via The Direct), Wan called out the changes his film makes from Karshon in the DC Comics.

“This Karshon is not a shark character. It’s different [from] the comic books in that sense,” Wan states. “One of the things we wanted to do, now that Arthur is king of Atlantis, is to give him barriers within the political world. Karshon comes from the High Council and is like a political roadblock for Arthur.”

Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman
Credit: Warner Bros.

So, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will not be centering Karshon as a shark-shaped villain, but instead, a political adversary for Momoa’s Aquaman to circumvent. How that plays out to an already fatigued audience will be interesting, and considering early screenings have been underwhelming (walkouts of free screenings were reported), then it’s apparent the Aquaman sequel has a massive uphill battle on its fins.

In terms of the Karshon in the DC Comics world, Alex Jaffe wrote for DC.com, explaining the origin of the shark villain:

“If you’ve read Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo’s Suicide Squad (and you really should, since it’s one of the best Squad books I’ve read), you know it includes a humanoid shark. And while King Shark has been a member of the Suicide Squad in the past and will likely be again in the future, the shark running with the team in the Taylor/Redondo book is NOT King Shark. He’s just “Shark.” (“Karshon” to his friends.)”

Karshon from DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

Related: DC Panics, ‘Aquaman 2’ Cut Short Amid Amber Heard Fiasco

Jaffe goes on to confirm that Karshon is even more of a shark than Suicide Squad’s King Shark. “While King Shark is the son of a human woman and a shark god, Karshon is a regular old shark who generated humanoid limbs and intelligence after being exposed to radiation. Then he fought Green Lantern for a while. It was the Silver Age, dude. This kind of stuff happened all the time,” reads the article.

So, it does not seem like Wan’s sequel epic is honoring the comic book legacy of this aquatic villain and instead positioning the character as a more political foe for Momoa’s Arthur Curry. This change may be yet another reason audiences will reject Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom and not show up to support the follow-up to Wan’s surprise billion-dollar hit.

Jason Momoa in 'Aquaman 2'
Credit: DC Studios

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is slated for release on December 22, 2023, a full year after its original release date was scheduled and two days after its latest date. The delay puts the film into the proper Christmas weekend and could give the film a seemingly much-needed Holiday audience boost.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom stars Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Patrick Wilson as Orm Marius, Yahul Abdul-Mateen II as David Kane/Black Manta, Amber Heard as Mera, Nicole Kidman as Atlanna, Temuera Morrison as Tom Curry, Randall Park as Dr. Stephen Shin, Vincent Regan as Atlan, Indya Moore as Karshon, Jani Zhao as Stingray, and Pilou Asbæk in a currently undisclosed role.

Will you be checking out Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom this December? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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