In the five years since the release of the blockbuster hit “Aquaman,” fans have eagerly awaited details about its sequel, “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.”
One question that has loomed large is the fate of Amber Heard’s character, Mera, especially given her highly publicized legal battles with her ex-husband, Johnny Depp. Heard herself testified in court in May 2022 that her role in the sequel had been “pared down,” which fueled speculation about her future in the franchise.
First look at Amber Heard in ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.’ pic.twitter.com/fIDAs6DlXz
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In a recent deep-dive feature on “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” by EW’s own Clark Collis, director James Wan addressed this issue, shedding light on his original vision for the film. He clarified that the central relationship in the sequel is between Jason Momoa’s Arthur and Patrick Wilson’s Orm, who must unite against a formidable threat posed by Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), empowered by the Black Trident artifact. While this narrative shift appears to diminish Mera’s role, Wan revealed that this was always part of the plan for the movie.
“I always pitched this to everyone from the get-go,” Wan told EW. “The first Aquaman was Arthur and Mera’s journey. The second movie was always going to be Arthur and Orm. So, the first was a romance action-adventure movie, the second one is a bromance action-adventure movie. We’ll leave it at that.”
Heard’s involvement in “Aquaman 2” had been clouded by her ongoing legal battle with Johnny Depp, which began after she wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post in 2018 where she described herself as a survivor of domestic violence. Depp’s legal team sued her for damaging his career, and while he lost a libel suit in the U.K. against The Sun, he achieved success with a defamation case against Heard in an American court. This high-profile trial lasted for months and garnered national media attention.
As part of her testimony during the trial, Heard mentioned her “very pared down” role in the Aquaman sequel, attributing it to her ex-husband’s alleged “smear campaign.” She claimed that Warner Bros. had cut scenes from her role, stating, “They just removed a bunch out.”
Ultimately, Johnny Depp won on all three counts of defamation and was awarded $10.35 million in damages. However, Heard also emerged victorious in one of her three defamation counterclaims, receiving $2 million in damages. The two parties settled their legal disputes in December 2022.
While the legal battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard may have concluded, it appears that the publicized court hearings have reignited a long-standing online petition on Change.org. This petition, aimed at having Heard removed from “Aquaman 2,” has gained momentum, with over 2,190,000 signatures and counting.
Supporters of the petition argue that since Depp faced career setbacks, including losing roles in “Pirates of the Caribbean 6” and “Fantastic Beasts 3,” Heard should similarly face repercussions, starting with her role as Mera. They accuse her of fabricating incidents and portray her as a domestic abuser.
However, as of now, Warner Bros. has not announced any plans to reduce Heard’s role in the sequel or remove her altogether. The fate of her character in “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” remains uncertain, pending the ongoing trial’s verdict.
As the legal drama continues to unfold, fans and the public await further developments in this highly publicized case and its potential impact on the Aquaman franchise.