Associated Press AP

How Aquaman 2’s Villains Could Become Even More Of A Threat

Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for Aquaman are ahead!

For Arthur Curry’s first standalone story within the DC Extended Universe, Aquaman understandably threw the character’s two most well-known villains from the comics at him: Ocean Master and Black Manta. The former served as the main antagonist, the latter was billed as the secondary villain, and by the end of the movie, both men were in rough shape. However, while Ocean Master, a.k.a. Orm, was thrown in Atlantean prison after being defeated in combat, Black Manta, a.k.a. David Kane, was saved from death by Dr. Stephen Shin, who was seen sporadically throughout Aquaman. These two are now allies and expected to be Aquaman 2‘s villains, but there’s only so much they can accomplish together. To raise the stakes, Aquaman 2 should use the N.E.M.O. organization to make Black Manta and Shin even more dangerous.

Although N.E.M.O. (Nautical Enforcement of Macrocosmic Order) was introduced during Dan Abnett’s run on the Aquaman comic book series just two years ago, within the main DC Comics timeline, the organization has existed since 1872, though it would be another century and change before it finally consolidated its power, to the point that it controls the world economy. N.E.M.O.’s ultimate goal is to control the world through the oceans themselves, and one of the ways its members have managed to make progress with this is by acquiring Atlantean technology, allowing them to control aquatic life, create hybrid soldiers and even insert coral suicide implants into its operatives.

The person who leads N.E.M.O. is known as The Fisher King, although when Black Manta was recruited into the organization, he swiftly killed the current Fisher King, assumed control and later slaughtered every other high-ranking member who was dissatisfied with him being in command. N.E.M.O. was already planning on trying to discredit Aquaman in the eyes of the public, which would subsequently result in Atlantis being viewed as a hostile power and the surface world declaring war on the submerged kingdom. Despite his violent takeover of N.E.M.O., Black Manta decided to keep this plan in motion, and it was almost successful. But in the end, he was yet again defeated by Aquaman, and N.E.M.O. was seemingly destroyed, or at least temporarily neutralized.

Now let’s look back at Black Manta and Dr. Stephen Shin within the DCEU. Black Manta proved himself to be a formidable opponent in Aquaman, but even all that Atlantean technology Orm gave him, including that customized, laser-blasting helmet, he was defeated once again by Arthur Curry. We can reasonably assume that Black Manta will give Arthur another good fight in Aquaman 2, but now that Arthur leads his own nation, Black Manta is incredibly outmatched.

In Stephen Shin’s case, we don’t know that much about him since he was mainly shown failing to convince fellow TV panelists that Atlantis exists, but clearly, like his comic book counterpart, he’s accumulated a solid amount of knowledge about the underwater civilization. But even with that knowledge and Black Manta on his side, there isn’t that much he can make happen.

Together, the chances of Black Manta and Dr. Stephen Shin posing a real threat to Arthur Curry in Aquaman 2 are slim. But what if they weren’t alone? What if this partnership leads to the two men forming the DCEU’s version of N.E.M.O.? Yes, in order for this to work, N.E.M.O. would need to be a fresh creation rather than having existed for a long time, but it can still serve the same function overall. The world at large may not be aware of how close it was about being invaded by Orm’s forces, but if Shin can find likeminded individuals and convince them how close humanity came to being attacked by water-dwelling beings, he can then gather up support and resources, turning him from a crackpot conspiracist to leader of a cabal set on learning the secrets of what lies under the oceans and perhaps even control them.

Black Manta’s own knowledge of Atlanteans and their new king means he’s the perfect man to lead field operations for N.E.M.O., and while Stephen Shin might be content enough to simply learn about Atlantis, you can be sure that Black Manta has something more sinister in mind. He’s consumed with exacting revenge against Arthur for killing his father, and N.E.M.O. would be just another means to an end to make that happen. But why stop there? The organization could also pave the way for Black Manta to deliver a blow against Atlantis itself. N.E.M.O. wouldn’t be big enough to wage a large-scale war against Atlantis, but through subterfuge and sabotage, it could weaken the nation’s foundation, just like its comic book counterpart did.

Now that Jason Momoa‘s Aquaman has transitioned from loner to monarch, he has countless people watching his back. It would already be a challenging prospect for Black Manta to fight our intrepid hero a third time, but now it’ll be incredibly difficult for him to get anywhere near Arthur with all those soldiers protecting him. Having Stephen Shin on his side is welcome, but it’s going to take numbers and resources for Black Manta to stand a better chance of victory than he did in Aquaman. Through N.E.M.O., that can happen.

Stephen Shin, on the other hand, is the unknown factor. He has a conflicted relationship with Arthur Curry in the comics, but he never evolved into a full-blown super villain. Granted, we have no idea if he’s had any prior contact with Arthur in the DCEU, but even if he hasn’t, it’s hard to tell whether he simply wants to find Atlantis for academic purposes or if he also has malevolent intentions in mind. His new alliance with Black Manta suggests the latter is more likely, but either way, N.E.M.O. would be beneficial for him. However, if a time comes that Shin doesn’t agree with Black Manta’s goals for N.E.M.O., that could be the turning point that dissolves his alliance with the helmeted foe and lead him to seek help from Aquaman.

Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for any news regarding Aquaman 2, including whether or not N.E.M.O. is added to the proceedings. For more information about the future of the DCEU, look through our comprehensive guide.

Do you want to see N.E.M.O. in Aquaman 2?

Blended From Around The Web

 

Does Aquaman Really Include A Man Of Steel Easter Egg?

Warning: SPOILERS for Aquaman are ahead! Proceed with caution.

Rather than go out of its way to connect to other corners of the DC Extended Universe, Aquaman opted to take a standalone approach with its story. In fact, Mera’s mention of Arthur Curry having helped defeat Steppenwolf was the only direct reference to Arthur Curry’s participation in Justice League, but it turns out there might have been a more subtle reference to the DCEU past: seeing the oil rig explosion from Man of Steel.

We have Patrick Wilson‘s Orm, a.k.a. Ocean Master, to thank for this supposed tie-in, as during the first half of Aquaman, after Arthur Curry is captured by Atlantean forces after meeting with Mera and Vulko (who managed to escape unseen), Orm explained to his chained half-brother why he wants to attack the surface world. It boils down to humanity having polluted the oceans for centuries, and to prove his point, Orm showed Arthur some holograms of the various ways have tainted Earth’s waters. Included among the footage is an oil platform on fire, which looks quite similar to the one that Clark Kent rescued all those workers from early into Man of Steel, as you can watch below.

Assuming the oil rig explosion we briefly see in Aquaman is indeed the same one from Man of Steel, then not only is this a fun DCEU Easter egg, it also directly ties into Arthur Curry’s own past. Last year, Jason Momoa confirmed the long-running theory that it was Aquaman who saved Clark Kent from the explosion and brought him back to shore was true, having learned as such from director Zack Snyder. So even though it would be another three years until Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice gave us our first look of Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, the character has been involved in the DCEU since it launched, even if that involvement may have thrown in retroactively.

Whether or not Orm knew that Arthur was near that flaming oil platform all those years ago, that footage was just one of several examples Orm show to convince Arthur of the evils of humanity and for him to stay out of Atlantean affairs. His attempts at persuasion were for naught, and by the time all was said and done in Aquaman, not only did Arthur prevent Orm from laying waste to humanity, he also rightfully claimed the Atlantean throne. And thus a new chapter in Atlantis’ history begins, one that was ushered in by a half-human, half-Atlantean ruler who will try to bring peace between the underwater and surface worlds.

Aquaman is now playing in theaters, and be sure to read CinemaBlend’s review of the movie. Stay tuned for continuing coverage about the movie and if/when Aquaman 2 will get the green light, but for now, you can find out what else the DCEU has on the way in our handy guide.

Shooting Aquaman’s Fake Underwater Scenes Was Super Uncomfortable For Jason Momoa

While Jason Momoa can rest easy following the early massive success of Aquaman, now that it’s in theaters, it was no swim in a kiddie pool to create the many underwater sequences in the blockbuster. Momoa and the other actors had to wear a quite uncomfortable rig and harness to replicate underwater movement. As director James Wan recalled:

It looks like during the filming of Aquaman, Jason Momoa’s manhood was on the line due to some painful wire work, and he let James Wan know it. While the harness beat being immersed in freezing cold water during filming in Iceland or maybe the restraint his bladder had to go through while wearing the Aquaman suit, it wasn’t cozy by any means. James Wan continued to explain the situation to USA Today with this:

Aquaman actors Patrick Wilson and Dolph Lundgren also dealt with this struggle and devised a unique way to take away the pain every so often. They would lean forward and spin themselves upside down to take off the pressure in between takes.

Because so many of Aquaman‘s scenes take place underwater (around two thirds of it), the DCEU film posed to be a significant technical challenge to develop for director James Wan and the cast and crew. For the many underwater scenes, wire work was done with a blue screen behind them and CGI was later added to make it look like they were in water, had floating hair and their clothes moved like they were in Atlantis.

While it sounds like it was quite uncomfortable at the time, the visual results of Aquaman paid off, as the underwater scenes are incredibly realistic and certainly contributed to the success and positive reception of the film. If the visual effects of Aquaman were not thought out, the film could have easily been silly to watch and difficult to be taken seriously.

Aquaman topped the box office during its opening weekend, alongside other popular new releases Mary Poppins Returns and Bumblebee, debuting with $67 million in earnings domestically. The film is one of the few to make $20 million one Christmas Day alone, it is now at $105 million at the domestic box office in total and $556 million worldwide. You can catch the superhero underwater adventure is in theaters.

Why An Optimus Prime Movie Isn’t So Easy To Do, According to Bumblebee’s Producer

This past weekend‘s Bumblebee marks the first spinoff film in Paramount’s wildly successful Transformers franchise, but one imagines if it is successful enough, it won’t be the last. The most obvious Transformer to get his own spinoff after Bumblebee is Optimus Prime. But obvious doesn’t mean easy, and Bumblebee producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura believes that a spinoff about the Autobot leader would provide a unique set of challenges. As he explained:

And countless Star Wars fans cried out in unison, “Oh, I don’t think so.” While some may not agree with his analogy, believing that Obi-Wan Kenobi is a character with plenty of story to tell and is deserving of his own spinoff film, Lorenzo di Bonaventura still makes an interesting point about the hurdles of making an Optimus Prime movie.

As he told Metro, Optimus Prime is something of a stoic character who is unassailably good and isn’t what you would call loquacious. So that could be construed as boring or difficult, because how do you keep a story interesting and an audience engaged when the protagonist isn’t flawed and doesn’t have a particularly dynamic personality. To do so might require altering who Optimus Prime is, and that is obviously something that should be avoided.

It’s definitely a challenge, and there is also the issue that Optimus Prime has arguably already been the protagonist for five Transformers films. So the spinoff would need to justify its own existence as well as telling us a story about Optimus Prime that feels necessary and interesting.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura’s remarks do show that he understands that Optimus is not Bumblebee and he can’t just churn out a series of cookie-cutter spinoffs without regard to the individuality of the characters leading them. And yet, while Optimus might provide some challenges, it is still doable.

The key is to find the right story. To go back to his analogy, many would argue that the Star Wars prequels showed that Obi-Wan Kenobi has a great deal of complexity to him, and there is enough personality there and story to fill in to provide plenty of opportunity for a spinoff film.

The same could be true for Optimus, and if the same amount of care is given to such a film, as was with Bumblebee, it could change what we know about Optimus Prime while continuing to change our perceptions of what a Transformers film can be.

While Lorenzo di Bonaventura and team are trying to crack an Optimus Prime movie, that isn’t the only Tranformers title we can hopefully look forward to in the future. Lorenzo di Bonaventura also mentioned the animated movie that will tell the mythology of the Transformers on Cybertron. We first heard about that years ago, but it sounds like it is still in the works.

As for Bumblebee, director Travis Knight has said that the success of the film will determine what the future holds, but he does have some ideas for a Bumblebee 2 should that come to pass.

Which potential Transformers film interests you most?

Miley Cyrus Just Confirmed She and Liam Hemsworth are Married

In case your Instagram feed wasn’t already filled with enough engagement/wedding pictures, Miley Cyrus just added to the holiday nuptial frenzy: according to her latest Instagram posts, it sure looks like she and Liam Hemsworth really did get married this weekend.

This week, the pair set off the rumor mill when friends of the couple (who first got engaged in 2012) started posting photos from what looked suspiciously like an intimate wedding reception. There was a dress. A tux. A cake. Champagne. Even “Mr.” and “Mrs.” balloons. But no word from the couple on whether they’d actually tied the knot or just had a peculiarly themed Christmas party.

Until now. This afternoon, Miley shared a lovely black and white photo of herself and Hemsworth clad in wedding attire with the caption “10 years later …..”

And if that wasn’t convincing enough, a second post shows Hemsworth wearing a wedding ring.

Congratulations to the happy couple!

Related Stories:

Miley Cyrus Solved the ‘Santa Baby’ Debate With Her Own Updated Lyrics

Liam Hemsworth Basically Just Shut Down Those Miley Cyrus Breakup Rumors, so Relax

Yes, Wong Will Be In Avengers: Endgame

With so many MCU characters having appeared in Avengers: Infinity War, it’s easy to forget where each of them were by the time of Thanos’ shocking snap and if they made it out alive. Doctor Strange‘s Wong is one character who didn’t have a clearly defined fate as he made an early exit to Sanctum Sanctorum from after fighting in New York with the Master of Mystic Arts, Iron Man and Bruce Banner and was not seen again.

However, we do know that Benedict Wong will officially be returning as his character in Avengers: Endgame, as confirmed in an unsettling Instagram photo when reshoots were underway and recently during his interview with Collider. Wong actually filmed his scenes on Endgame while working on his upcoming new television series on Syfy, Deadly Class, which is executive produced by the Russo Brothers. Here’s what he said:

Thankfully, because Benedict Wong was working on two projects involving the Russos, traveling back and forth between Avengers: Endgame and Deadly Class wasn’t as difficult to juggle at the same time. Since Wong’s Wong is bald, he was made a rather expensive silicon wig to resume the role while keeping his hair for Deadly Class.

The new series is based on the comic book series by Image Comics about a high school for assassins. It’s set during the late ’80s and Benedict Wong plays the school’s headmaster, Lin. The Syfy show also stars Teen Wolf‘s Benjamin Wadsworth and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before breakout star Lana Condor in the primarily young cast.

We don’t know for sure if Wong survived the snap or not, so it’s unclear what role he will play in Avengers: Endgame. If he was among the lucky half of the universe, Wong could join Cap, Black Widow and Ant-Man with their plan that was set up in the trailer. There are endless possibilities as to how and when Wong will appear at this time, but it’s exciting to know he’ll show up in some capacity.

In addition to appearing in Avengers: Endgame, Benedict Wong is set to return as his MCU character in the recently announced Doctor Strange sequel coming to theaters in May 2021. Director Scott Derrickson is returning to helm Doctor Strange 2 which will star Benedict Cumberbatch as Steven Strange.

Doctor Strange had an important role in Avengers: Infinity War since he used the Time Stone to see how the Avengers will save the universe and said the words, “We’re in endgame now” — which was later announced as the title of the upcoming Avengers film. By association, Wong could have a pivotal role in the outcome of the highly-anticipated film coming to theaters on April 26, 2019.

While you wait to see him in Endgame, you can catch Benedict Wong’s new series Deadly Class premiere on Syfy on January 16, 2019.

The Best Motherhood Moments of 2018

It’s hard to ignore the fact that Motherhood had a major moment in 2018. From mommy shamers, to breastfeeding, to postpartum mental health, celebrities opened up about some of the realest facets of motherhood in a series of hell yeah moments in the media.

Those words, are power. The more we talk about the modern realities of motherhood (say, being attacked by strangers on Twitter for breastfeeding or wearing makeup to your kid’s soccer game), the more we can normalize them.

Read on for some of the realest, most inspiring motherhood moments of the year.

John Wick 3 Finally Reveals More About Anjelica Huston’s Character

It’s been made perfectly clear in the first two John Wick movies that the criminals Keanu Reeves’ character associates with aren’t your run-of-the-mill lawbreakers. These are colorful figures who follow their own set of rules and customs, and John Wick: Chapter 3, a.k.a. John Wick 3: Parabellum, will delve deeper into this strange, underworld society. One of the new people being brought in to expand on this mythology is Anjelica Huston’s The Director, who Reeves described thusly:

We already knew that The Director was a high-ranking member of The High Table, the council of powerful crime lords that has the highest authority over the criminal underworld. But as Keanu Reeves told Empire, which also has an exclusive image of John Wick meeting with The Director, Anjelica Huston‘s character is also being used to show how there are different factions within this society with people who don’t fit the traditional assassin mold.

Director Chad Stahelski also previously revealed that The Director had a hand in John Wick’s “upbringing and his protection,” resulting in John Wick: Chapter 3 feeling a little bit like an origin story. Whether or not the Eastern European-born Director still has a soft spot for John during the next movie remains to be seen, but their paths will definitely cross, and knowing John, he’s going to be extra cautious around her since she’s part of the group that’s out for his head.

When we left off with John Wick at the end of John Wick: Chapter 2, he’d been forced to go on the run for killing Santino D’Antonio, a newly-minted High Table member, on Continental grounds, and the existing bounty on John’s head had been doubled to $14 million by the other High Table members. With his underworld connections and resources also stripped away, John Wick: Chapter 3 will see John trying to escape New York City and killing anybody who stands in his way.

Along with The Director, we’ll also meet fellow High Table members The Adjudicator, played by Asia Kate Dillon, and The Administrator, played by Robin Lord Taylor. Other new characters being introduced in John Wick: Chapter 3 include Halle Berry’s Sofia, Marc Dacascos’ Zero and Jason Mantzoukas’ Tick Tock Man, while the familiar faces returning include Ian McShane’s Winston, Lance Reddick’s Charon and Laurence Fishburne’s Bowery King (Common will not be back as Cassian).

John Wick: Chapter 3 opens in theaters on May 17, 2019, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates about this movie and the future of the franchise. If you’re curious about what other movies are coming out next year, look through our 2019 release schedule.

Macaulay Culkin Apologizes To Burglars Everywhere Over Home Alone

In addition to being a Christmas classic, Home Alone teaches some valuable life lessons about the joys of solitude and how not to parent. The film also provides some excellent reasons for you to think twice before trying to burgle someone’s home. Macaulay Culkin realizes the possible deterrent effect his childhood role might have had, and in the spirit of the season, he has taken the time to apologize. Check it out:

That’s very big of Macaulay Culkin to say and shows how far he’s come since his days of attempted murder in Home Alone. Some child stars are a mess when they’re older, but this Twitter post shows how that Macaulay Culkin has grown into a mature and contemplative adult.

The actor now realizes the unintended consequences of his film and understands that for all of the Christmas cheer Home Alone brought, there were other Christmases that were lessened because would-be burglars didn’t have great stolen goods to gift or hawk.

You can see how Macaulay Culkin might be right about Home Alone robbing burglars of their confidence to burgle too. Picture this: you’re a burglar, maybe you’ve fashioned yourself what you think is a clever moniker and you’re planning to rob a house on Christmas. It’s a solid plan; after all, a Christmastime home is bound to be full of expensive presents on top of the usual goodies.

Then you see Home Alone, and suddenly, the seed is planted in your mind that you have to worry about being tarred and feathered and taking a hot iron to the face. That’s some intimidating stuff. You were prepared for dogs and alarms, but blowtorches and tarantulas?

Those are variables you never even thought about until Home Alone and that can erode your confidence to rob a house on Christmas. All thanks to a cheeky, too clever for his own good kid by the name of Kevin McCallister.

It might seem like a joke, but the hard data certainly doesn’t refute the deterrent effect Home Alone has had on burglaries. According to both the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the FBI, the rate of burglaries in the U.S. has gone down since the 1990s.

Now, correlation is not causation, but who’s to say that Macaulay Culkin and Home Alone didn’t deter burglaries? If he did, in addition to his apology to burglars, he can say ‘You’re welcome’ to all the homes that might have been burgled and Christmases that would have been ruined without his fine work, as long as those families also learned the importance of remembering how many children they have of course.

Even now, we are seeing the effects Home Alone has had on would be thieves. The advent of Amazon has seen those without the guts or inventiveness to actually break in to a place, stealing packages off people’s front porches. To combat this, someone recently booby trapped a fake package with a camera and a glitter bomb to go off on an unsuspecting thief. And the name on that package was none other than Kevin McCallister.

Check out our 2019 release schedule to see the biggest movies heading to theaters next year and for all the latest in why it’s never too late to apologize, stay tuned to CinemaBlend.