This article contains Aquaman spoilers.
Aquaman is the latest entry in the ongoing DCEU series of movies, with Jason Momoa’s titular hero tasked with traversing the various kingdoms of Atlantis in search of a weapon that will allow him to take his place as ruler of the oceans.
But not all of those kingdoms appear on screen for long. If you’re wondering what these places are and how they relate to the comics, pull up a chair (or at least, one of those inflatable swimming pool chairs) because we’ve got you covered.
That’s right. In the movie’s mythology, Atlantis, the mythical city, once existed on land. When it sank into the depths, felled by its own hubris, its people fragmented into seven distinct nations who, whether through magical or scientific means, evolved into separate-looking and acting races, all sons and daughters (and occasionally crustaceans) of the original Atlantis.
Notably, the movie only (definitively) includes six of the seven kingdoms, which can only imply that the last one will appear in a sequel if one gets made. Still, six is better than you’ll find in the comics, where only three of Atlantis’ kingdoms survive: Atlantis, Xebel, and The Trench.
Formed from the wreckage of the original Atlantis, the undersea city remains a technologically-advanced and socio-economically developed society, its obsession with monarchy notwithstanding. In the comics, Aquaman’s version of the city first appeared in Adventure Comics #260 (May 1959).
Part of Atlantis previously appeared in the Justice League movie, where it was the location of a hidden Mother Box. Based on the real mythology of Atlantis as originally depicted by Plato, there’s a Roman bent to this undersea civilization permeating its customs, iconography and, of course, weaponry. It’s no accident that Aquaman is searching for a trident, after all.
Ruled by King Nereus (Dolph Lundgren) and home to Mera, Xebel is a prison colony that emancipated itself. In the comics, Nereus is Mera’s betrothed rather than her father, but in the film, this role is taken by Orm instead. As with Atlantis, Xebel is powerful and warlike, but broadly honorable. With the possible exception of greater prominence for red hair, Xebel physiology is identical to Atlantean.
In the comics, it resided in another dimension – Dimension Aqua – which was accessible only through the Bermuda Triangle. Although Dimension Aqua first appeared in Mera’s origin as told in Aquaman #11 (September 1963), it wasn’t named as Xebel until the 2011 crossover series, Brightest Day.
Kingdom of the Fishermen
Portrayed as a society of intellectuals and philosophers, the Kingdom of the Fishermen in the Aquaman movie may be loosely based on Ancient Athens. It is notably populated by a race of Atlanteans who have evolved to be considerably more fish-like.
In the comics, there isn’t a direct analogue to this Kingdom, though it could arguably be an adaptation of Tritonis, an Atlantean society of mermen that first appeared in Superman #129 (May 1959). Perhaps most relevantly, Black Manta once ousted the king of Tritonis and led it in a war against its rival city, Poseidonis.
Kingdom of the Trench
The Trench first appeared in Aquaman #1 (September 2011). The Trench is both the name of the Kingdom and the race that lives within it. These monstrously-evolved Atlanteans are beastlike and apparently incapable of reason, acting on pure primal instinct to feed their voracious appetite. They attack without strategy or mercy, and as such may have been chosen to deliberately guard the entrance to The Hidden Kingdom.
The Trench is ruled by the Trench King, the largest, deadliest and oldest of the Trench. Although it isn’t stated outright in the movie, they probably live in the Marianas Trench, the deepest point in the ocean.
Kingdom of the Brine
Site of the movie’s climactic battle and a little similar to the Trench, The Brine is home to a race of Atlanteans that have evolved (some might say devolved) into more animalistic forms – although unlike the Trench, they are not necessarily hostile and would probably prefer just to be left alone. Primarily crustacean, the Brine live on the sea floor and apart from being ready to repel an attack from Orm, we don’t see a whole lot of them. They were invented for the movie, however, so there’s not much else we can say other than maybe they’ll expand on it in a sequel.
Kingdom of the Deserters
One of the lost colonies of Atlantis, the Deserters were wiped out when the Sahara turned into a desert, leaving their world barren and inhospitable to life. Again, there’s no precedence for this in the comics but if you’re after easter eggs, it’s worth noting that the Toto-sampling music that drops on top of this scene is by Pitbull, a nod to director James Wan’s past in the Fast & Furious franchise.
Of course, Aquaman DOES get stuck in the desert in Aquaman #5 (January 2012), so if this is what you’re looking for, that’s where you can find it.
The Hidden Sea
We’re unsure whether this counts as a kingdom of Atlantis or not, given its apparent location at the Earth’s core, but the Hidden Sea is at least a location in the movie. Existing at the Earth’s core and accessible only through The Trench, the Hidden Sea is the location of King Atlan’s Trident and the place where Queen Atlanna has been stranded for 20 years. It appears to be a Lost World situation, where prehistoric and extinct beasts live in isolation from the rest of the world. Again, the Hidden Sea was created for the movie, but let’s take a moment to acknowledge that the Trident hidden there is a version of the Dead King’s Sceptre, first seen in Aquaman #11 (September 2012).
Of course, if you agree that the Hidden Sea probably isn’t part of the Atlantean seven, that raises an interesting question: what is the last one? Suggestions gratefully received in the comments…