Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is in an exceptionally weird spot, as the final film in the old DC movieverse before James Gunn kicks off a new one in a couple years. It’s adrift, in a sense, because it wasn’t made to be an ending to anything. It’s just a new Aquaman movie. But thanks to all this franchise noise, it’s hard to look at it that way.
But we’re going to give it our best shot anyway.
Warning: The remainder of this article will include detailed descriptions of the ending of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.
The main thrust of this film involves Black Manta, still seeking revenge for his father’s death, looking for and finding an ancient Atlantean trident that would give him the power to challenge Aquaman. But the trident comes with a price: he has to free the monstrous ancient king who owned it from a glacial prison.
The final step in this process, after melting the glacier, was to break the magic lock with the blood of the dead King Atlan, Aquaman’s ancient ancestor and brother to the imprisoned ghost. There are three people alive who carry that blood: Aquaman himself, his brother Orm, and Aquaman’s baby son.
So Manta kidnaps the Aquababy and is just about to murder the child when Aquaman pops in at the last second to knock the blade out of Manta’s hand. That suits Manta just fine, since he wants to kill Aquaman anyway. And thus the final fight begins.
Midway through the battle, the magic-powered Manta holds his own, and he nearly kills Mera by throwing the black trident at her, but Orm catches it in very dramatic fashion. However, this is the second time Orm has touched the trident, and he isn’t able to resist the ancient power–Orm ends up possessed by this evil ghost king, who abandons Manta and leaves him powerless.
So, once again Orm and Aquaman have to fight, and Orm manages to free the ghost king by punching Aquaman hard enough that he bled on the lock. But Aquaman is able to defeat him in clever fashion by borrowing a trick from James Gunn. He throws his trident through the other one, basically copying Deadshot’s tiny bullet trick from the end of The Suicide Squad. Though that is a little silly since we’re talking about metal tridents, but “silly” is pretty par for the course for an Aquaman movie so we’ll allow it.
Without his power, Manta is pretty well screwed, hanging from a ledge as the cave they’ve been fighting in collapses around him. Aquaman, in a reversal from their first scene together in the last movie, tries to help him, but Manta refuses and lets himself fall–if they were to make a third one of these, he’d probably be back, but there’s no point in making any guesses about that right now.
Unfotunately, things are still a mess even after the threat is snuffed out, thanks to Manta’s efforts to accelerate global climate change throughout the movie. So the Atlanteans and the rest of the underwater world decide to make themselves known to the surface so they can counteract what Manta did together. So Aquaman comes to the surface with Dolph Lundgren and the king crab, and gives a big speech about how everybody’s gotta pull together.
And then the movie ends with Orm eating a burger for the first time, inspired by Aquaman making fun of him earlier in the film for never trying surface food. And then the credits roll. But wait, there’s a little bit more.
Does Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom have a mid-credits or post-credits scene?
There’s one extra bit in the middle of the credits, and it’s a continuation of that burger scene. You’ll recall that during that earlier food discussion between Orm and Aquaman, Aquaman punked Orm by giving him a cockroach to eat and claiming it’s a delicacy–it made for one of the funniest moments in the movie.
This mid-credits scene calls back to that by having Orm spot a roach on the table where he’s eating the burger. So he grabs the roach and sticks it under the bun and takes a big bite. After a moment’s consideration, he nods contentedly.
And that’s how the DC movieverse, which began a decade ago with Man of Steel, finally wraps up: with Patrick Wilson eating a roach burger.