The trailer for the upcoming DC Extended Universe film Aquaman dropped during San Diego Comic-Con, giving fans their first real look at the character’s underwater world.
Played by Jason Momoa, the DCEU version of Aquaman became a major character in Justice League, which also gave a small role to his love interest, Mera (Amber Heard); she will have a much larger part in this movie.
The trailer begins with some backstory: Aquaman is the son of a human father (Temuera Morrison) and Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), queen of the undersea Atlantis. We see him bullied as a child (played by Kaan Guldur) during a school trip to the aquarium; this creates a strange reaction from the fish, which gather near him and even try to break the glass, scaring the other children away.
As an adult, Aquaman meets Mera again, who tells him that his half-brother, Orm (Patrick Wilson) is King of Atlantis and plans to wage war on the surface world. As she sees it, the only solution is for Aquaman to go and challenge him for the throne. Naturally, he is reluctant. “I’m no leader,” he says at one point. “I came because I have no choice.”
Beyond that, we see a lot of underwater spectacles, including Atlanteans riding massive sharks and attacking what looks like giant crustaceans. We also catch some glimpses of the movie’s secondary villain, Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who goes so far as to destroy a tower with his armor’s laser eyes.
Mera will clearly be a major character—we hear her give Arthur two pep talks. One he declares the “worst ever,” but the second—telling him that his mixed heritage is a strength, not a weakness—seems to work better. (The trailer also ends with her jumping out of a plane without a parachute.)
Aquaman releases on December 21, 2018, so it is a bit late to get its first trailer out; director James Wan has noted that the underwater scenes require a lot of CGI, and he wanted to get it just right. Admittedly, these are very difficult effects, and some have questioned if the characters really move like they’re underwater, but at the same time the scenery is very impressive and colorful, in sharp contrast to the often dark and dour aesthetic of past DCEU films.