Residing within the deepest, darkest recesses of the oceans, the Trench, aquatic creatures introduced in Aquaman devour any mariners unfortunate enough to enter their waters and play a pivotal role in helping Arthur Curry turn the tide of battle against Ocean Master in finale. Now, the monstrous, undersea race is the unexpected subject of the latest DC Comics inspired film.
Since the spinoff's announcement, additional details have surfaced about the planned film. It will not be a prequel depicting the Trench's origins, instead taking place between Aquaman and its recently announced sequel. Also, Aquaman and Mera are not currently expected to appear, opting instead for a predominately new cast of characters to star in the film.
Along with reports that the spinoff will lean more heavily into horror, this all suggests that the Trench spinoff may be the DCEU's first full-on exploration into the genre instead of the cancelled Justice League Dark. Without Arthur Curry around to communicate with the deep-sea species, it's highly unlikely that Warner Bros. would develop a film focused entirely on a fish-like race that communicate telepathically as its central protagonists. What would make more sense, logistically and palatably for audiences, would be a cinematic adventure focusing on hapless travelers and explorers that cross paths with the ravenous Trench and have to survive the experience. An aquatic twist on the zombie genre set on the high seas and coastline, basically.
Created by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis in 2011's Aquaman #1 as part of the New 52 publishing initiative, the Trench were introduced very much like they appear in the film, as a flesh-eating fish species from the oceans' depths. The opening issue had the Trench attack a New England seaside town, eating several of the inhabitants and carting the rest away in pods to feed their young. As Aquaman and Mera dove deep down to their rescue, they discovered the species' hulking queen and barely escaped with their lives.
While the cinematic incarnations of the two undersea heroes won't reprise their roles, a tale of human explorers perhaps seeking deep-sea treasure stumbling across the Trench could bear certain narrative similarities to the comics' introduction, expanding the wider world of the ravenous race. Another possibility comes from a new rumor that the Others, a team of heroes allied with Aquaman in the comics, may appear in an Aquaman sequel. A Trench spinoff could have the ensemble introduced in some capacity to springboard them into a larger role in a second, main Aquaman film.
Another key factor in the possibility of the DCEU going full horror for the Trench is the behind-the-scenes talent involved. Producer Peter Safran also serves as the producer on Warner Bros.' massively popular horror franchise The Conjuring, including all its respective spinoff films. And while James Wan's own involvement on the spinoff is unknown at this time, the filmmaker similarly comes from an extensive horror background, writing, directing and producing many of The Conjuring franchise's films to critical acclaim and commercial success. With that pedigree of horror genre talent behind the production, the DC spinoff could effectively blend the superhero and horror genres to similar success.
The Trench spinoff provides the DCEU with a prime opportunity to expand its genre offerings between the standard superhero fare. And first introduced in the studio's most successful superhero film with top talent behind it, the planned film stands every chance of being another runaway success.
Aquaman is available in digital HD on today and Blu-ray and DVD on March 26. Directed by James Wan, the film stars Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Amber Heard as Mera, Patrick Wilson as Orm, 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.