Aquaman's incredible financial success and solid acclaim is great news for the DCEU, which is also great news for fans worried about the film universe's future post-Justice League. The hero's success gives hope that Justice League 2 may happen, despite some things thus far that make it feel like an impossibility. With that said, I'm here to say Justice League 2 could and should happen, and all Warner Bros. has to do is make Aquaman the team's leader.
Let's face facts, the situation with Ben Affleck staying on as Batman has been sketchy for a while, and now Henry Cavill may be out as well. Even if the two hang on for another film, the odds both stick around for another Justice League feel slim to nil. To continue on with the DCEU's current path, Warner Bros. would seemingly either have to recast both men and pretend nothing happened in a future ensemble, or just not do one.
The first option isn't ideal, of course, and the latter is a slap in the face to all the great things both Aquaman and Wonder Woman have accomplished. Why can't there be a third option where Supes and Batman are absent while Aquaman is running the show? Could the ruler of Atlantis also run one of the world's most powerful superhero groups?
As of right now, the answer is no, but Aquaman's financial success has all but guaranteed that Arthur will get more adventures to polish his leadership skills. By the time Justice League 2 talk could resurface, it isn't crazy to think he'd have at least one or two more films to learn qualities of a good leader. He might still retain some of the knuckleheaded-ness he displayed in Justice League, but ideally he'll mature as king enough to power through some of that.
It's also worth mentioning there's precedence in Aquaman leading an iteration of the Justice League in the past, and it did not include Batman or Superman. Instead, Aquaman ran a team with Martian Manhunter, Zatanna, Elongated Man, Vixen, Steel, Vibe, and Gypsy. Together, they kept the world safe, all while DC's arguably more notable heroes were off elsewhere.
Now I'm not saying Warner Bros. should stick with that team above an adapted team that includes Wonder Woman, Flash, and Cyborg, but some of those additions would be cool to see on the big screen. Not to mention that a ragtag bunch like that really seems like the type of crew Jason Momoa's Aquaman would pull together. I can just imagine him being excited about a hero who does magic or him busting a gut at some of Elongated Man's shenanigans.
However that roster would shake out, it would be an imperfect bunch to say the least. That's kind of perfect though, as any DCEU Justice League roster absent of Batman and Superman would be considered a mess and something folks would be wary of. It'd have a wildly different set of expectations than the original Justice League feature, which is arguably a necessary thing Warner Bros. must do if it ever intends to make a sequel to that adventure.
Just picture it: a Justice League movie in which Arthur Curry and crew face down a world-ending threat without the help of DC's ultimate hero and master tactician. It would be tough to say the least, and an affair like that could get messy and create some actual stakes. Heroes could die and with the team that Aquaman led in the comics potentially in the mix, DC could afford to lose one or two of those for emotional impact.
To this point, I've only speculated Aquaman's Justice League leadership on the idea that Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill won't be in their roles by the time Warner Bros. would get around to Justice League 2. That feels like a safe bet to make at this stage, but say this is Bizarro world and both men are on board for another ensemble with the original players. Does the role of leadership still belong to Aquaman here?
Absolutely, although I will say the reasoning in that instance will be different. As DC's top-grossing film, the Aquaman franchise has seemingly the highest odds of continuing on with more movies in the DCEU. More films means more continuity, which could ultimately set the stage for the events that bring the heroes back together. That would call for a threat that ties to the events of Aquaman, which make it more appropriate for him to take the lead.
Some of you may now be asking about Wonder Woman. Isn't she more fit to lead? It's a fair question, and while I can't dispute her taking the reigns in the first proposed scenario, I can say that crafting a Justice League 2 storyline using her films that will time jump between eras would be far more difficult to do. It just makes more sense with Aquaman taking place in the present that it should be used to lay the groundwork for Earth's future threats.
Now whether or not Warner Bros. would do that is a point of concern, as James Wan expressed the importance of making Aquaman a standalone film. Whether that was a one-time deal or whether he'll even be around for the sequel remains to be seen, however, so that shouldn't be seen as too much of a point of concern in whether Aquaman should be promoted to be the new Justice League leader.
After all, what really seems to matter is if the public can get behind Aquaman leading the team. I don't think the world is there yet, but it's safe to say the hero's overall cool factor and usefulness has risen in the wake of Aquaman. If the franchise continues to churn out hit films, approval will rise with it, and the world might beg for him to be put in charge. Ok, that's really optimistic, but there might be fewer complaints at least.
Aquaman is now playing in theaters and is killing it at the box office. The success has ensured Jason Momoa's character has a shot at being around for a long while to be considered for the head of the Justice League, but readers can decide for themselves whether or not that's a day they'd like to see.