It seems like Ben Affleck might just be dusting off his Bat cape and donning the signature cowl once again in 2023’s Aquaman sequel.
On 28 July, sea god Jason Momoa uploaded photos of his recent bro-down with Affleck on Warner Bros.’ backlot. “REUNITED Bruce and Arthur,” the star captioned the post. “Love u and miss u Ben WB studio tours just explored the backlot alright. Busted on set all great things coming AQUAMAN 2 all my aloha j.”
Accompanying two images featuring Affleck and Momoa was a video in the Instagram carousel post, where the latter was seen accidentally running into some fans who were in the middle of a tour.
“Well, it’s not a f-ing secret anymore,” Momoa was heard saying and later apologising for cursing in front of the kids aboard the tour bus. “That’s what happens, Warner Bros., when you walk out of your set and there’s our fans. Hey guys, have a good time!”
“Well, we tried to keep it a secret,” Momoa added, before busting into a trailer that read “B.A.” where Affleck was seen sitting with a phone in his hands.
Momoa had previously teased that he’s “back on set” and “can’t tell you what I’m doing” as it’s “top secret” on his Instagram Story while promoting his brand, Mananalu Water. “All I can say is, thank you to one of my favourite production companies for having me and taking care of the environment, because I can’t say much more,” the actor admitted. “But good things are happening.”
On the other hand, Affleck’s on-and-off relationship with DC started with 2016’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opposite Henry Cavill, where he received heavy backlash and admitted that he was not happy with the finished product. Affleck then went on to star in Suicide Squad and both the Joss Whedon and Zack Snyder versions of Justice League.
“I had a really nadir experience around Justice League for a lot of different reasons,” Affleck told Entertainment Weekly at the time. “Not blaming anybody, there’s a lot of things that happened. But really what it was is that I wasn’t happy. I didn’t like being there. I didn’t think it was interesting. And then some really shitty things, awful things happened. But, that’s when I was like, I’m not going to do that anymore.”
Affleck has also previously said that filming Justice League was a “very, very, very hard experience” that led to a relapse in drinking and his decision to give up starring in and directing his own version of The Batman.
While it’s unclear how big Affleck’s role will be in DC’s upcoming Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, he will be starring alongside returning actors Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson and Dolph Lundgren. The much-awaited sequel is scheduled to hit theatres on 17 March 2023.
As the Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard defamation trial continues to flood the internet, yet another specific fact which has been revealed is currently being dissected by netizens. After “entertainment industry consultant” Kathryn Arnold (whose job mostly consists of testifying about the industry in court cases such as this) spoke on the potential effects that Heard and Depp’s divorce, as well as the subsequent backlash against the actress that followed, had on Heard’s career.
Long story short, Arnold concluded that yes, it did end up having a significant impact on the actress’ professional life—more specifically, concerning Heard’s starring role in the Aquaman franchise of DC Films and sub-franchise of Warner Bros. films. The expert’s testimony confirmed some of the rumours many had seen circulating before, including the fact that Heard was deliberately left out of promo materials for the film’s sequel, banned from DC’s FanDome event and was almost straight-up fired from the movie.
Arnold—who was called as a witness on Heard’s behalf—noted that “research showed whenever Heard’s name was mentioned, whether in connection to a film, TV show, magazine article, or endorsement deal, there was immediate backlash from fans on social media.” The studio reportedly went as far as to push to have her removed from Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom outright, a move that was stopped by a united front from co-star Jason Momoa and director James Wan.
According to Arnold’s testimony, Wan and Momoa were both “committed to her” and were “adamant she was in the film.” Regardless, Heard has testified that her part in the film was cut short, though it was officially blamed on a supposed lack of chemistry with Momoa.
That being said, Arnold’s take was followed by none other than Walter Hamada’s, President of DC Films, who counterargued that no, the star’s role in the big-budget sequel was in no way impacted by rumours surrounding her tumultuous marriage to Depp.
Instead, Hamada alleged that it was always intended for Heard to have a smaller role in the film franchise. He then added that producers were so “concerned” about a lack of chemistry between Heard and Momoa in the first Aquaman that they even considered recasting her in the sequel. Though Momoa and Wan’s pushback stopped this from happening, fans have already shared their opinion on which star is the best to replace Heard as Queen Mera.
“I think editorially they were able to make that relationship work in the first movie,” Hamada stated. “But there was a concern that it took a lot of effort to get there and that would we be better off finding someone with more natural chemistry with Jason Momoa and move forward that way.”
The movie tycoon further insisted that the actress’s compensation was in no way impacted by the claims made by Depp.
When testifying on Monday 23 May, Arnold also claimed Heard could have been enjoying the same career success as “comparable actors” such as Zendaya, Gal Gadot and Momoa if not for her ex-husband’s team’s alleged “smear campaign” against her.
“When you look at the time frame of when the [Adam] Waldman statements came out [in 2020], and you look at what was going on with Ms Heard’s career prior to the statement and what happened after the statement, it’s very clear to make that correlation,” Arnold told the court.
Then again, Depp’s lawyers were quick to push back on the expert’s assessment of Heard’s career during cross-examination and claimed her comparison of Heard with the aforementioned actors was way off, adding that they were either stars of blockbuster franchises or had higher profile careers than Heard in 2020.
Depp’s team also noted that Gadot played a recurring role in the Fast & Furious franchise before joining the DC universe as Wonder Woman while Heard’s appearance in Aquaman as Mera was a “supporting role” to Momoa’s titular superhero.