The next two films in the DC Extended Universe were well-represented at CinemaCon in Las Vegas Tuesday night. Footage from Aquaman, Shazam, and even a brief mention of Wonder Woman 2 kicked off a panel touting the upcoming films to exhibitors from across the world.
The DC presentation mainly focused on James Wan’s Aquaman, which screened a tiny bit of footage at Comic-Con this year, but nothing else publicly. Wan admitted he wasn’t exactly comfortable screening anything at all since there are still about eight months until release, but joked that Warner Bros. forced him. The result was basically a very visual trailer with very unfinished visual effects.
A quick preface before we got into the footage description. The footage shown was very dense, with lots of cuts, different visuals, and also dialogue on top of it. We did our best to summarize on a single viewing but, obviously, missed a lot.
The work in progress footage began with a boat sailing off into the sunset. “I can’t believe you’re finally here,” a voice says as the camera goes underwater, “I’ve heard so many stories about you.” Deeper and deeper it goes. We see an almost aqua train as well as transports that look like armoured fish. “You’ve come all this way to takes sides against your own people.” A huge arena of people are cheering something. “There are no sides in this war.” Arthur (Jason Momoa) and Mera (Amber Heard) are in a transport coming into this city. “Welcome to Atlantis, Arthur.”
Arthur and Mera emerge on Atlantis and it looks like Los Angeles from Blade Runner, but underwater. Huge, sprawling buildings with bright neon colours on them all. The transport flies (or should we say swims) through the city. “My brother has come from the surface to challenge me for the throne,” says Orm, played by Patrick Wilson. He and Arthur are now in a red room, circling each other. Then they’re jumping at each other with tridents underwater. Next, two people are fighting on the beach. Willem Dafoe’s character, Nuidis Vulko, is telling Arthur he must unlearn what he’s learned on the land. We realise the person fighting on the beach was a young Arthur Curry. He’s running, he’s flying, all in the past. A submarine emerges from the ocean and we see the grown Arthur jump into it. “I’m a blunt instrument and I’m very good at it,” he tells Mera. He wants to change who he is and embrace his heritage. She says that “it will be destroyed unless you help us,” which we assume is Atlantis.
Then things get bigger. Huge swarms of sharks, big armies. More, big underwater buildings, then back to Earth and Arthur walking in the desert. He’s told he has to “go deep to uncover your Atlantian instincts.” “There’s a war coming to the surface and I’m bringing the wrath of the seas with me,” Orm says. We see a huge armies breaking through some big barriers. A shark jumps and bites someone. Then the title: Aquaman.
The trailer felt like a huge upgrade in scale from the rest of the DC Universe which, itself, was already massive. James Wan is obviously going for a big, sprawling adventure. We’ll see if it works out in December
Also part of the presentation was a brief clip from Shazam, which opens in April 2019. Most of the “footage” was just comic book frames but, there were a few scenes from the movie. One was of Shazam (Zachary Levi), in a toy store, playing “Chopsticks” on a huge, floor piano, a reference to the actor saying the film is Tom Hanks’ Big with superheroes. There was also a clip of the film’s villain, Doctor Sivana (Mark Strong), throwing a few people with an unexplained power. Then, there was concept art of a young boy and Shazam (who, remember, is also just a young boy in a superhero body) doing something in a convenience store, as the young boy is filming it for YouTube. Next, Shazam and the boy are spitting out beer.
Finally, there was a comic book reel based on Wonder Woman 2. Fans know more about the movie than the reel provided, like that Kristen Wiig is playing Cheetah, but there were still a few small moments. For example, the reel featured an interview with director Patty Jenkins that confirmed, yes, Wonder Woman 2 is set in the ’80s. Plus, it will feature Diana facing the temptations of the world, while also facing incredible odds. When the footage mentioned “odds,” an image of Cheetah was shown. Finally, Jenkins said Diana is at the height of her powers in this film and that they are raising the bar.
Aquaman opens December 21, Shazam opens April 5, 2019 and Wonder Woman 2 opens November 1, 2019.