Amber Heard Nearly Replaced On ‘Aquaman 2’, Saved By Jason Momoa And James Wan

Living here in Northern Virginia, just a few miles away from where the Amber Heard/Johnny Depp trial is taking place, it’s been impossible to avoid the media feeding frenzy. It’s been kinda gross, actually, the way our local news is eating it up every spoonful of the former couple’s scandalous relationship, and I’ve chosen to largely ignore it despite my friends picking sides. But there’s some actual news that has spilled out in-between all of the salacious bullshit, and it involves the many rumors regarding Amber Heard’s return as Mera in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

So while her detractors have launched petitions in an effort to get Heard removed from the film, there have only ever been rumors as to her fate. Over the weekend, Heard revealed that her role was actually reduced quite a lot, and while she didn’t outright say it was because of negative press surrounding her, the implications were clear.

But according to DC Films’ Walter Hamada (via Variety) in a deposition, WB actually considered getting rid of her altogether. However, the reason given might not be what you think.

“They didn’t have a lot of chemistry together,” Hamada said. “Editorially, they were able to make that relationship work in the first movie, but there was a concern that it took a lot of effort to get there…You know it when you see it, and the chemistry wasn’t there.”

Ultimately, Heard was able to return and was paid a cool $2M for the performance. That’s twice what she earned in the first movie, so all’s good there. Hamada actually suggests her role was not reduced but has stayed the same since the story was developed in 2018, but who’s to say?

The repeated chipping away at her role might have led to Heard being fired, but former producer-turned-industry insider Kathryn Arnold (via DailyMail) testified that she was only saved by Momoa, despite their apparent lack of chemistry, and director James Wan…

“Ms. Heard was not invited to be either in the poster or to be at the [FanDome] event, and, in fact, they told her she cannot come,” Arnold claims. “In February 2021, there were conversations that Amber’s, I’m going to be technical with you, her option for employment was not going to be exercised. So they may not have hired her again. Her management team fought very hard and they ultimately ended up hiring her, but not only because of what her management did, but also because star Jason Momoa and director James Wan committed to her.”

Arnold maiintains that the first script gave Heard’s Mera a ‘strong romantic arc the entire film and some great action sequences.’ Heard trained for months for the action scenes only to arrive on set to learn from a costume designer that her role was “diminished.”

And as for that $2M pay day? It was in the original terms of her contract, and under normal circumstances could’ve been renegotiated for a lot more. Thus is the impact of the negative press surrounding Heard right now.

At the current rate things are going, Heard is unlikely to be in Aquaman 3 if another sequel were to happen. I think that’s a shame as I like her as Mera and want to see her role get bigger across the DCEU.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom opens March 17th 2023.


Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.