Aquaman is a thrilling, water-based adventure that sees the DC Extended Universe hero rediscover his watery roots, and despite the questionable quality of the DC Extended Universe so far (not counting Wonder Woman), it’s well worth a watch. The main story, which sees Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry introduced to Atlantis for the first time, isn’t the only thing of interest though - there’s also the Aquaman post-credits scene to look forward to.
Thanks to Marvel Studios, post-credits stingers have become a superhero movie staple and Aquaman is no exception. While director James Wan choose to include only one Aquaman post-credits scene, it’s a pretty important one, which wraps up the Aquaman ending and teases what we can expect from any future sequels. If you’ve seen the Aquaman post-credits scene and you’re wondering what it all means - or if you can’t wait to see the film to find out what happens - you’re in the right place because we’re about to conduct a deep dive (get it?) into what happens in the Aquaman post-credits scene and what it means for the DC Extended Universe. And if it wasn’t immediately obvious, there are major spoilers for Aquaman below so make sure you’re ok with that before reading on…
Once Aquaman reigns supreme after defeating his brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) and becoming King of Atlantis, the credits roll and - eventually - the Aquaman post-credits scene comes into view. Unsurprisingly, it involves water as David Kane/Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is seen adrift on a piece of debris in the middle of the ocean, not looking too great way after his altercation with Aquaman in Sicily. He’s saved by someone on a passing boat who scoops him out of the water before we see him recovering in a bunk with his Black Manta armour removed and a bandage over one eye.
He’s unconscious at first as his unknown saviour tinkers with his armour and an interview with scientist Dr. Stephen Shin (Randall Park) - who appears earlier in the film trying to convince everyone that Atlantis exists - plays on the TV. David jolts awake just as whoever is messing with his suit accidentally triggers the lasers and blows a hole in the roof of their boat, revealing that it’s none other than Dr. Shin himself who rescued him. Turning to face Black Manta, Dr. Shin asks where he got the technology from and Black Manta says he’ll tell him anything he wants to know if Shin helps him find Aquaman.
I don’t think anyone will be surprised to find out that Black Manta survived his fight with Aquaman. He’s an iconic villain in the Aquaman comics, but takes on more of a secondary baddie role in the Aquaman film in favour of King Orm. The Aquaman post-credits scene clearly hints at Manta causing trouble for Aquaman again in the future and if we get a sequel (or perhaps more DC Extended Universe movies featuring Aquaman) it looks like Manta is being set up to become Aquaman’s arch-enemy, as he is in the comics. While his original comic book origins story doesn’t follow what happens in Aquaman, the New 52 reboot of the DC Comics universe rebooted his story and in that version of events, it’s revealed that Aquaman killed Manta’s father. This is clearly the inspiration for what happens in Aquaman, and although our hero merely leaves Jesse Kane to his dire fate at the beginning of the film, rather than actively killing him, Manta still blames him for his father’s death and vows to get revenge. But what about Shin? Is there any indication from the comics about what he’s up to?
We know from his appearance earlier in the film that he’s convinced Atlantis exists and is ridiculed by the scientific community and mainstream media for his beliefs. Why he’s so sure about the existence of Atlantis we don’t know at the moment but it seems from the deal he made with Manta that he’s trying to find it. In fact, that’s probably why he was out in the middle of the ocean when he came across Manta, he was searching for the location of Atlantis. Interestingly, in the comics, Shin is a friend of Aquaman’s Dad, Tom Curry, and helps Arthur develop his powers as a child, but when Arthur refuses to reveal the location of Atlantic, Shin tries to kill him. Could an Aquaman 2 story incorporate this backstory? Perhaps, but for now the Aquaman post-credits scene is merely a cool teaser for a possible sequel we may never get. Hurry up and announce Aquaman 2 Warner Bros!