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Aquaman 2 Leaves the DCEU in a Fitting Place, Actually

Unless something truly crazy happens, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will be the final film in the DC Extended Universe that began 10 years ago with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. It was a universe dominated by Snyder’s decisions, which resulted in some memorable highs and embarrassing lows. And while Lost Kingdom completely ignores that it’s part of that universe in every way, leaving all open questions about its inhabitants untouched, it’s actually a hopeful, fitting ending for that universe, especially since a new one is on the way.

Early on in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) explains his belief that the underwater kingdoms of Atlantis should reveal themselves to the surface world in an effort to combine resources and save the planet. After all, everyone lives on the same planet, and climate change and pollution that’s impacting the surface is impacting the seas too. His council initially rejects this, but after he defeats the ancient, evil, frozen king whose plan was to possess a human to get him to warm the planet up enough to free him, the tides change.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom then ends with the historic DCEU news of Atlantis revealing itself to the world. As Atlantian ships arise in the waters near downtown Manhattan, we see Arthur give a rousing speech on Ellis Island about how, together, the surface and seas can help save the planet. He then ends it by boldly proclaiming, “I am Aquaman!” before returning to the sea.

In this moment, no, we don’t know how badly the Flash screwed up the multiverses, who’s still a member of the Justice League, or the whereabouts of Jared Leto’s Joker. This moment rises above all that. It leaves the DCEU in a place where the world is going to be saved. Atlantian technology, mixed with human technology, will be able to reverse climate change and make it so the entire planet can keep living on for all those characters and others. It’s a hopeful ending. A fitting ending. And one that says, “Hey James Gunn. This world is safe now if you want to start a new one.”

Plus, that the film ends with Arthur screaming “I am Aquaman” as one of the last lines in the DCEU is a nice parallel to the beginning of another cinematic universe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Don’t forget, that began when Tony Stark declared “I am Iron Man,” a statement that changed the world for the better. Here, Arthur similarly embraces his true identity and does the same.

Nerds like us who follow every little detail of the plots of cinematic universes such as these might not be particularly satisfied by how the DCEU ended. We believe, however, that Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom did as good a job as one can imagine in closing this chapter in a positive, meaningful way, while also not worrying about the little details. Leave those to your imagination. This world is fine.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is now in theaters.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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