In “Aquaman,” Arthur Curry must come to terms with his royal Atlantean heritage in order to stop an impending war.
Directed by James Wan, the movie introduces fans to the vast undersea empire of the DC Extended Universe. And it turns out the colorful world is technologically advanced, composed of a number of kingdoms and ruled by complicated (if outdated) politics.
It’s apparent from the start that neither Arthur (played by Jason Momoa) nor the Atlanteans are quite ready to see the half-human/half-Atlantean hero installed as the new king, but as often is the case for stories about a chosen one, destiny waits for nobody.
[Warning: Spoilers for “Aquaman” below.]
A treasure hunt spearheaded by the more competent and knowledgeable Princess Mera (Amber Heard) culminates in an epic battle that cements Arthur’s place as the true king of the seven seas. But it turns out that even after saving the world, not every loose thread from the movie has been resolved.
“Aquaman” features a mid-credits sequence revisiting a couple of characters who were introduced in the film but were absent from that final battle.
The scene reveals that Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) has actually survived his earlier showdown with Arthur by somehow ending up adrift on some floating debris. The pirate whose vengeful rage against Aquaman had motivated his actions throughout the film is then rescued by a boat carrying none other than Dr. Stephen Shin (Randall Park).
Dr. Shin, a marine biologist, made a brief appearance earlier in the movie during a news segment where his obsession with Atlantis made him seem like a bit of a conspiracy theorist (since most land-dwellers don’t realize that Atlantis is real).
Manta is then shown waking up in a lab with walls plastered with newspaper headlines about Aquaman and Atlantis under Shin’s care. Shin has been tinkering with the remnants of Manta’s suit and discovers that it’s a piece of Atlantean technology.
Shin, of course, wants to know where Manta got this tech. And it seems like Manta is willing to share his secrets as long as Shin helps him find Aquaman.
The scene sets up the possibility that the pair might partner up for a future “Aquaman” installment of some sort (though a sequel has not yet been confirmed).
Unlike Manta, who has long appeared in comics as Aquaman’s foe, Dr. Shin was introduced more recently. He debuted in 2011 during DC’s “New 52” reboot, which involved the publisher relaunching all their titles with new first issues and many of the long-established characters having their backstories revamped.
Shin’s relationship with Aquaman is also a bit more complicated than Manta’s. In the new comics continuity, Shin was a scientist and a friend of the Currys when Arthur was younger.
Unfortunately, Shin’s obsession with Atlantis caused a rift in their relationship. But even after their falling out, there have been occasions where Arthur seeks Shin’s Atlantis-related expertise.
Dr. Shin and Manta also have a bit of history in the comics. Although not necessarily allies, it was revealed Shin did help out a shipwrecked Manta in the past. And Manta has definitely tried to use Shin’s knowledge of all things Atlantean in his quest to beat Aquaman.