Amber Heard as Mera in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Unsurprisingly, Amber Heard’s Reduced Role in ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ Backfired

Now that Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom has arrived in theaters, Amber Heard’s reduced role has been confirmed. Unsurprisingly, the decision is already backfiring and receiving criticism from Heard supporters and film critics alike.

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Heard’s role in the Aquaman sequel has been one of the biggest questions surrounding the film’s release. Although Heard portrayed Mera in the first Aquaman movie, which received mostly positive reviews and became the DC Extended Universe’s biggest commercial success, her role was threatened after the highly publicized Depp v. Heard case. The defamation case, in which Heard’s ex-husband Johnny Depp claimed Heard defamed him because she identified as an abuse survivor, resulted in fans of Depp launching a vicious smear campaign against Heard and her supporters, which included harassment, verbal attacks, and threats of violence. Misinformation spread like wildfire despite it never being proven that Heard’s abuse allegations were false.

During the trial, Heard testified that she had to fight to keep her role as Mera in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom and that it was still pared down due to the smear campaign against her. Director James Wan and other DC executives denied this, claiming her role was always supposed to be reduced to focus on Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and his brother. Many of Heard’s supporters have been skeptical of this excuse, believing that the real reason for her reduced role was to please Depp’s fans and avoid their relentless harassment. Now, the film’s premiere has confirmed that something is off about Heard’s role.

Heard’s reduced role is painfully obvious in Aquaman 2

Amber Heard as Queen Mera in Aquaman
(Warner Bros.)

For over a year, we’ve heard contrasting rumors about Heard’s role in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Depp fans continued fueling false rumors that Heard’s role was entirely cut, while Heard’s absence from marketing materials had some believing she’d have little more than a cameo. It turns out that Heard’s total screen time as Mera in the Aquaman sequel comes to about 20 minutes in the roughly two-hour film. At first glance, this seems slightly better than fans hoped for. It’s better than her not being there at all or only having a cameo, right? Not quite.

Despite being seen in the film for at least 20 minutes, Heard isn’t heard much. In total, she only gets about 11 lines. So, what is she doing in the film? Well, she’s just … there. She stands quietly and meekly by Aquaman’s side, briefly shows off her powers, and gets sidelined early on. Not only do viewers barely get to see her in action, she’s hardly even shown with her child. Apparently, between films, Mera became a very timid woman who stepped back and let Aquaman rule his kingdom and raise their son solo. Viewers can’t help but notice how bizarre it is that one of the lead stars from the original movie is reduced to standing silently by Aquaman’s side and having no personality or story of her own. Even her romance with Aquaman just magically dissipates in the sequel.

Meanwhile, the fact that Heard’s role is so sloppy and awkward suggests that this wasn’t the plan all along. It truly looks as if someone erased her actual role and then tossed her into the movie at the last minute as an afterthought, randomly sticking her wherever there was room. It’s consistent with Heard’s allegations of the film cutting her role from the original script. Heard supporters, who have become far more vocal, are bound to be disappointed. Prior to the film’s release, her fans got #WeWantMera trending and threatened to boycott the movie if Warner Bros. didn’t stop hiding her in promotional materials. While some chose to boycott, others went to the film but used the hashtag #OnlyForMera to continue supporting Heard.

It’s not just Heard’s supporters criticizing the choice, though. Film critics from prominent media outlets, including The Wrap and Paste Magazine, have slammed the film for how poorly it handles Mera. The Wrap‘s William Bibbiani points out that the only explanation for her butchered role is either that Heard’s allegations are true or Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom just had a highly sexist screenplay from the onset. Neither is a good look. Paste Magazine‘s Jesse Hassenger wrote that Heard’s scenes looked like they were added during post-production and acknowledged it was likely because of Heard’s “supposed defamation.” It went on to slam the film for treating her “as radioactive per the wishes of the dumbest 10% of internet idiots.”

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom messed up its film by not even bothering to be subtle when it cut Heard’s role. This is likely a big part of why the film is sitting at a sad 36% on Rotten Tomatoes and is projected to be a box office flop. Warner Bros. messed up the sequel to its most successful DC film just to please a bunch of misogynist cyberbullies. Maybe it’s time for Hollywood to start standing with abuse survivors instead of abusers.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.