Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’s Unexpected Turn Reveals Its Dark Reflection of the MCU in the DCEU

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The DCEU, which has faced its fair share of criticisms and comparisons to the more successful Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), seemed caught in a perpetual dilemma of not finding its unique footing. Early movies under Zack Snyder were faulted for their departure from the light-hearted banter of Marvel, opting for a darker, moodier tone. Subsequent releases faced backlash for attempting to emulate the MCU formula too closely but falling short.

However, the final scene in “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” offers a twist that, while seemingly low-key, fundamentally alters the DCEU’s relationship to Marvel. In this concluding moment, the DCEU quietly redefines its identity as a dark mirror to the MCU all along.

In this concluding scene, Arthur Curry achieves his goal of uniting the worlds of land and sea by revealing Atlantis’ existence to the world. At a press conference, he encourages unity between the two realms, identifying himself as a child of both land and sea and declaring, “I am Aquaman,” as the iconic song “Born To Be Wild” kicks in.

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The scene draws clear parallels to Marvel’s Iron Man finale, evoking a sense of déjà vu for Marvel fans. This deliberate parallelism suggests a direct connection between the end of the DCEU and the inception of the MCU. It acknowledges the DCEU’s attempt to emulate the MCU’s success while simultaneously becoming a contrasting, “Bizarro” version of it.

Just as Superman’s villain, Bizarro, is the opposite of Superman in various aspects, the DCEU stands as the inverse of the MCU in reception, planning, and longevity. The DCEU, largely met with criticism, exists in stark contrast to the MCU, which has been largely adored and meticulously planned, seemingly endless in its continuity.

Interestingly, while the DCU – the next iteration after the DCEU – will be helmed by former Marvel filmmaker James Gunn, it aims to carve out its distinct path parallel to the MCU rather than following in its footsteps. However, the concluding scene in “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” serves as a moment of acknowledgment and admission for the defunct DCEU, shedding light on its identity as the antithesis to the MCU.