For better or for worse, a popular online petition and social media movement for Amber Heard to be fired from Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom was never going to work. In the original Aquaman, which was directed by James Wan, Heard starred as Mera opposite Jason Momoa's Arthur Curry. All three are now on location in London with production on the sequel officially underway.
Leading up to the shoot, many Johnny Depp fans had been calling for Warner Bros. to have Amber Heard booted from the project. Nearly 2 million fans signed a petition on Change.org demanding her firing, and on a consistent basis, the hashtag #JusticeForJohnnyDepp has been trending on social media. This comes after Warner Bros. asked Depp to resign from Fantastic Beasts 3, as Depp's supporters believe that he's innocent of Heard's allegations that he'd abused her.
Safran and the Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom team haven't just had their heads buried in the sand. They're fully aware of the controversy surrounding Heard's involvement in the sequel. Even so, Safran says Wan never once considered that to be an option, as they would never cater to "pure fan pressure." Speaking on the Deadline Hero Nation podcast, Safran also said that what was best for the movie was Heard's return as Mera, so not much else matters beyond that.
"I don't think we're ever going to react to, honestly, pure fan pressure. You gotta do what's best for the movie. We felt that if it's James Wan, and Jason Momoa, it should be Amber Heard. That's really what it was... One is not unaware of what is going on in the Twitter-verse, but that doesn't mean you have to react to it or take it as gospel or accede to their wishes. You have to do what's right for the film, and that's really where we landed on it."
Amber Heard previously dismissed the efforts to have her fired from Aquaman 2. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly last November, Heard said, "Paid rumors and paid campaigns on social media don't dictate [casting decisions] because they have no basis in reality... Only the fans actually made Aquaman and Aquaman 2 happen. I'm excited to get started next year."
Those criticizing the decision to keep Amber Heard on board for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom are accusing Warner Bros. of a double standard. While Heard's allegations are very serious, fans argue that the evidence corroborates Depp's version of events. Viewing Depp as a victim of domestic violence, fans see the studio keeping Heard around while getting rid of Depp as a major injustice, hence the #JusticeForJohnnyDepp hashtag.
Along with Heard and Momoa, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom stars Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Temuera Morrison. James Wan directs using a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick. Safran and Wan produced the sequel. The sequel serves as a direct followup to the 2018 smash hit that topped $1.1 billion at the box office.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is scheduled to be released in theaters on Dec. 16, 2022. Production is currently underway in London.