WARNING: The following article contains mild spoilers for director James Wan's Aquaman, in theaters now.
Warner Brso.' Aquaman is packed to the gills with a look into Atlantis' peoples and cultures. In establishing those elements work and relate to each other in Arthur Curry's world, the film also paves the way for the introduction of one of his allies: Jackson Hyde, better known as Aqualad from DC comics.
Debuting on the fan-favorite Young Justice animated series as Kaldur'ahm, it didn't take long for Jackson to make the jump to comics, with the same basic story of being the new Aqualad, as well as the son of David Kane, the villainous Black Manta.
Since his arrival in comics, he's been used infrequently: He showed up just before DC rebooted its continuity in 2011 with the New 52, and then became a Teen Titan during DC Rebirth relaunch, before disappearing after the events of Justice League: No Justice.
Although Aqualad is never referenced in Aquaman, the cinematic Atlantis already has the tools that have come to define him. The Atlantean frontline army, known as the Men-of-War, possesss advanced weaponry that derives its power from water to make it more powerful. In that respect, the weaponry is similar to Aqualad's weapons of choice: the Water Bearers.
Like Mera, Aqualad's mother is from Xebel, whose inhabitants possess the ability to shape water and transform it into solid constructs. Jackson inherited that ability from his mother, and his Water Bearers typically turn into blades. If and when he shows up in the live-action films, he would likely have Mera as a powerful teacher to help him refine his powers.
As for what's actually in the film, we get a glimpse of Black Manta's backstory, which establishes a strange, twisted legacy for the Kane family. That David and his father Jesse continued the family tradition of careers in underwater operations feels like a bigger sign than any of Jackson's potential future in the so-called DC Extended Universe. How that would play out in the timeline remains to be seen, but it's also not as if Jackson can't be cast as a teenager.
The inclusion of Jackson would also allow for a do-over for Arthur: He didn't help David save his father in the submarine early in the film, and now Black Manta is bent on revenge. It's doubtful David will ever get over the death of his father, but Arthur could have something of a second chance with Jackson. Of course, breaking the cycle is one of the quiet themes of Aquaman. If that means getting a new partner out of it, then it couldn't hurt Arthur to make peace with a different Kane.
Directed by James Wan, Aquaman stars Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Amber Heard as Mera, Patrick Wilson as Ocean Master, Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta, Temuera Morrison as Thomas Curry, Dolph Lundgren as Nereus and Nicole Kidman as Queen Atlanna.