The Trench: What We Know So Far About The DCEU Aquaman Spin-Off Movie

Screenshot from Aquaman

After the billion-dollar success of Aquaman, it's a given that Warner Bros. is going to return into the waters with the popular DC character in the near future. While the steps are in place to make Aquaman 2, there are other ideas floating around in WB's bay at the moment. Specifically, there are plans to make a spin-off called The Trench, which will focus on the nautical nuisances that threatened our leads during a memorable sequence in the original film. Producer James Wan is eager to make a genre-enthused spin-off, and one that might not be what you'd expect from a DCEU joint. While not all the details are known about this project yet, we have heard some interesting details about the teased forthcoming blockbuster. Here's what we know.

Trench Comics

What Is The Story Of The Trench?

As first seen in Aquaman #1 (2011), The Trench consists of the former citizens of Atlantis who found their city destroyed and submerged underwater. As several years go by, these underwater sea creatures dwell in the Marianas Trench. They have evolved into horrific carnivorous humanoids with an appearance that resembles anglerfish with legs and other human features. We got a peek of them in Aquaman, but in this spin-off, we'll glimpse into their origins, exploring the creepy story of how they turned into the terrifying creatures seen in this thrilling action sequence.

Patrick Wilson - Aquaman

Where Will The Trench Take Place In the DCEU?

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter a few months after Aquaman's billion-dollar box office surprise, producer Peter Safran revealed some illuminating details about his plans for The Trench. Specifically, he was hoping to make and release the movie before Aquaman 2, which is expected to hit theaters on December 16th, 2022. Indeed, that's a pretty short window of time, but if he got his way, The Trench spin-off would take pick up after the events in the first Aquaman movie but before we returned for the much-anticipated sequel. Of course, that's certainly subject to change — most notably with the announced movie not scheduled to start production anytime soon and especially with the expectedly very CG-heavy blockbuster currently without a release date. In any case, based on what's been publicized about The Trench spin-off so far, this is what the producers are aiming for with this movie.

Screenshot from Aquaman trench sequence

How Will The Trench Build On Aquaman's Part Of The DCEU?

Details are still cloudy regarding what The Trench would be. WB is known for changing styles and tones with each subsequent new DC blockbuster, even within the connective tissue of the DCEU, and it can be hard to guess what The Trench might look like compared to the other movies we've got from the studio. Well, if we can take Peter Safran's word from his aforementioned THR interview, The Trench will follow suit not with what we've seen from the DCEU from this point, but what's been made within the extended Conjuring universe, which makes sense since both The Conjuring 1 & 2 and Aquaman come from director James Wan. Safran believes there's a lot of room to expand on what viewers saw, particularly in this stunning sequence. He said:

We always, even from the early concept art days, loved the idea of a Trench movie. Then, when audiences embraced it in the movie itself the way they did, particularly that ant farm shot where the camera follows the Trench [creatures] following Arthur and Mera down into the deep, we just knew that we had something very special there and we knew what that movie should be. And consequently, I suspect that that’s one that will come out significantly before Aquaman 2... We’ve definitely taken a page from our Conjuring playbook, which is: You’ve got the mothership, which is Aquaman, but there are so many great stories to tell within that universe of itself, that Atlantean universe.

Jason Momoa, Amber Heard - Aquaman

Will Jason Momoa And Amber Heard Reprise Their Roles As Arthur And Mera In The Trench?

In the THR interview quoted above, producer Peter Safran didn't reveal too many details about the upcoming Aquaman spin-off, but he did confirm that Jason Momoa and Amber Heard were not expected to reprise their roles as Arthur and Mera, respectively, in the new DCEU movie. They're both expected to star in Aquaman 2, but their commitments to this spin-off are predictably unexpected since their experience in the trench itself is exclusive to the sequence we saw in the 2018 movie. To include them in any way with The Trench would likely seem awkward, forced and most likely unneeded.

Screenshot from Aquaman (2018)

Will The Trench Be A Horror Movie?

According to producer James Wan in an interview with while discussing last summer's Annabelle Comes Home, The Trench will be less of a traditional comic book superhero movie and more of a monster horror movie in the vein of Creature from the Black Lagoon, Jaws, and most recently, Cloverfield. This makes sense, as exploring all the dark, unsettling terrors that are found in this unforgiving corner of the ocean would make a suitably scary horror movie — depending on the approach, of course.

According to Wan, they're still trying to figure out how to tackle the narrative. That'll understandably be tricky process. The writers are currently "deep" in "crafting the story" but Wan admits that it'll "definitely" lean into horror. Additionally, Wan admitted that the trench scene was one of his favorites in Aquaman because it let him to return to his well-known horror movie roots.

Aquaman Trenches Comic

Who Are The Screenwriters For The Trench?

In February of last year, it was announced that screenwriters Noah Gardner and Aidan Fitzgerald were hired to write the screenplay for The Trench. It's not clear if these writers are still on-board the project, but there has been no other information revealed publicly that suggests otherwise. If their script made its way into production, it would be their first produced screenplay. As the movie gets closer to pre-production, we'll hopefully have more details.

Screenshot from Aquaman (2018)

What Will The Trench Be Rated?

This is tricky! We don't know yet what The Trench will be rated, but given their recent history, it's entirely possible that The Trench will either be PG-13 or R-rated. One might assume The Trench would be PG-13 since that's what Aquaman was rated, but it could follow suit with the R-rated Birds of Prey, which was a spin-off of the PG-13 Suicide Squad. Also, despite previous incarnations of the character being in PG-13 movies, last year's Joker was also R-rated as well and notably not kid-friendly.

It should also be noted that most of James Wan's movies as both a director and producer are traditionally R-rated outside of Aquaman, which might lead to The Trench being R-rated as well. In any case, it's too early to know one way or the other where The Trench will land, but both ratings are possible.

Jason Momoa - Aquaman (2018)

Who Is Directing The Trench?

Currently, there is no director set for The Trench. With the movie currently in the deep recesses of the development stage, it'll be a little while before a finalized script is produced. Presumably, at some point shortly after that's completed, a director will be picked for the project. While nobody has been named to the project at this point, it should be a given that James Wan will not step into the director's chair himself for this spin-off. He's currently in post-production on his newest horror movie, Malignant, and he's also expected to direct Aquaman 2, which'll take up a lot of his time.

Screenshot from Aquaman (2018)

Are There Any Trailers Or Teasers For The Trench?

Not yet. But if you want a teaser for The Trench, you basically have one through the trench sequence in Aquaman, which can be seen below.

Naturally, since the project is still very early into the development process, details are limited at this time. But we should hopefully learn more in the months and years ahead. Whenever we hear more information about this upcoming new DCEU spin-off horror movie, we'll be sure to keep you posted!

Will Ashton

Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.