This week's Your Nerd Side Show:
The first Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom teaser trailer may have teased Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) doing something unforgivable. Among all the fascinating underwater shots, a house can be seen burning. It appears that it may be Arthur's (Jason Momoa) father's house, which may mean a tragic end to this character.
Only so much can be done to raise the stakes in superhero films. Losing a loved one is great motivation for anyone, but especially for superheroes because no matter how they look at it, they are at fault because of their position. And since it's been shown that Arthur and his father are extremely close, this loss would send him on a path of darkness and vengeance.
Black Manta Has Reasons to Kill Aquaman's Father
The saying "an eye for an eye" may rear its ugly head in The Lost Kingdom. Unlike the comics, Arthur essentially condemned Black Manta's father, Jesse, to death. Granted, the villain did shoot a grenade inside the submarine twice, but Aquaman is nearly indestructible in the DC Extended Universe. This version of Aquaman is also more blunt in his ways. Like Batman in the DCEU, he's less inclined to save the bad guy. This is why Black Manta's thirst for revenge is much greater than expected. Aquaman, a proclaimed hero, didn't bother to save his father, which put a target on his back.
If Black Manta does kill Arthur's father, it would work best if it was an indirect kill -- a mirror image of how his father had died. Since the house is burning, Arthur's father may be incapacitated inside. And for that reason, he may inhale too much of the smoke, causing him to die in Arthur's arms, a similar fate that Jesse faced. The severity of this death will not only affect Arthur because his mother, Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), appears to be a few steps behind him. The horror on Arthur's face when seeing the house in flames says it all.
Why a Family Member's Death Happens in Most Superhero Movies
Superhero movies have often used a family member dying to obtain motivation for the hero. Recently, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever dealt with a parent's death that was a bit unexpected, considering Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa had also died in the movie. This, at first, of course, angered Shuri (Letitia Wright) and had her seek revenge on Namor (Tenoch Huerta) for his wrongdoings. Queen Ramonda's (Angela Bassett) death was necessary for the plot, but at the same time, it was very close to T’Challa's, which caused a shift in the audience's grieving process. However, like all deaths in superhero movies, it tends to either act as motivation for the hero or a lesson to be learned. In Shuri's case, she learned that killing Namor won't change the past, something her brother also discovered in Captain America: Civil War.
There are many classic comic book storylines that involve the death of a family member, but Uncle Ben's death was and still is a huge part of the Spider-Man lore. He is a huge reason for Spider-Man putting on the suit and fighting crime. The infamous "with great power comes great responsibility" saying is a reminder of the lesson Peter is taught on the day of Uncle Ben's death. In Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, Peter (Tobey Maguire) used his power, not responsibly, to attempt to gain some money using his new abilities. Because of his actions, his uncle died at the hands of a robber who was looking to steal a car. He sought out who he believed killed his uncle, and the echo of his uncle's speech reemerges. It displayed that using his powers for personal gain wasn't the right thing to do just because he had the ability to do so. Peter is constantly taught this lesson throughout the course of the three films, and it is still relevant in other Spider-Man iterations, whether it's explicitly stated or not.
For Thomas' death to work in The Lost Kingdom, Arthur must learn something from his death. What lesson that should be is the real question. If reflecting on how Black Manta's father died, it would be making an enemy that could have been avoided if Arthur had been more compassionate. The problem with learning this lesson is that Aquaman doesn't display compassion like some of the Marvel characters or even Superman. In the DCEU, Superman had a breakdown after killing Zod, even though the villain was going to kill innocent people. At the same time, Aquaman abandoned Manta and his father in a nonchalant manner. So, Aquaman may be stuck in his ways unless there is another character to anchor him down into the reality that death is inevitable when creating powerful enemies.
Atlanna Will Help Aquaman Grieve His Father
As it appears in the teaser, Atlanna plays a big part in the film. Having been freed and possibly having a new relationship with Thomas, this death will also hit hard for her. But because of her experience as queen prior to her capture, she may have faced similar losses. As such, she will be there to help Arthur through his grieving process as best as she can, considering everything else that will likely be going on in the movie.
Many would assume Mera (Amber Heard) would be by Arthur's side because of their romantic involvement. But because of Heard's controversies in the past couple of years and the possibility of her having less screen time, she may not interact with Arthur in this manner. Another potential scenario could be The Flash universe reset may have erased the romantic element between Arthur and Mera, which could, in fact, leave more room for Atlanta to take on an important role and help Arthur on his journey as he grieves his father.