Willem Dafoe Not Returning in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom director James Wan confirms that Willem Dafoe will not be back as Nuidis Vulko in the DC Universe sequel.

Wan spoke to Entertainment Weekly about what’s in store for the Atlantean superhero’s latest adventure following the release of the first full trailer. While star Jason Momoa and most of the cast including Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, and Amber Heard from the 2018 movie are back, Dafoe’s busy schedule prevented him from playing Arthur Curry’s Atlantean mentor. “Willem is not in this one, no,” Wan said.

He continued, “Part of the reason was because his schedule did not work out for us. But what that allowed me to do was expand on Atlanna’s role. Atlanna in this one ultimately becomes Arthur’s advisor. Because Arthur’s not from this world, she helps him better understand the world and the politics of how things work.”

What to expect from Aquaman 2

Without the presence of Dafoe, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom takes on “a bromance action-adventure” direction with the half-Atlantean/half-human king forming an unlikely alliance with half-brother Orm (Wilson) to protect Atlantis against Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). As the last movie in the Snyderverse-era DCU, the Aquaman sequel will not tie in with the multiverse-bending events of The Flash and will be treated as a separate story altogether. “I always pitched this to everyone from the get-go,” Wan explained. “The first Aquaman was Arthur and Mera’s journey. The second movie was always going to be Arthur and Orm. So, the first was a romance action-adventure movie, the second one is a bromance action-adventure movie.”

“Having failed to defeat Aquaman the first time, Black Manta, still driven by the need to avenge his father’s death, will stop at nothing to take Aquaman down once and for all,” the official Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom synopsis reads. “This time Black Manta is more formidable than ever before, wielding the power of the mythic Black Trident, which unleashes an ancient and malevolent force. To defeat him, Aquaman will turn to his imprisoned brother Orm, the former King of Atlantis, to forge an unlikely alliance. Together, they must set aside their differences in order to protect their kingdom and save Aquaman’s family, and the world, from irreversible destruction.”

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is scheduled for release in theaters on December 20, 2023.