Willem Dafoe Is Not Back For ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,’ Subplot With Vulko Allegedly Cut

Willem Dafoe as Vulko in Aquaman (2018), Warner Bros. Pictures

Willem Dafoe played a critical part in Aquaman as Vulko, the mentor and surrogate father to Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa). However, the Green Goblin actor won’t be returning for the upcoming sequel, and two different stories explain why. One of those is emerging from social media and it’s rather surprising.

Jason Momoa as Aquaman in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023), Warner Bros. Pictures

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First, we have the director James Wan’s explanation for why Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is Vulko-less. And it comes down to schedules. “Willem is not in this one, no,” Wan revealed to Entertainment Weekly in an interview. “Part of the reason was because his schedule did not work out for us.” Luckily, a replacement was ready – Arthur’s mom.

“But what that allowed me to do was expand on Atlanna’s role,” Wan added. “Atlanna in this one ultimately becomes Arthur’s advisor. Because Arthur’s not from this world [Atlantis], she helps him better understand the world and the politics of how things work.” Fortunately, Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) can advise her son out in the open, unlike last time when she was missing.

Screenshot, Aquaman, 1 True King

Mera and Atlanna in Aquaman (2018), Warner Bros.

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Vulko, in her place, still had to be clandestine as he served in the court of Emperor Orm (Patrick Wilson) who though defeated, is part of proceedings again. “The first Aquaman was Arthur and Mera’s journey. The second movie was always going to be Arthur and Orm,” Wan says. “…the first was a romance action-adventure movie, the second one is a bromance action-adventure movie.”

It doesn’t sound like there is any room for Vulko and that might be by design. We’ve routinely reported the rumblings that Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom underwent drastic reshoots and script changes. These were often down to the wire and spurred on by test screening reactions that were increasingly negative. Consequently, a subplot clearing up Vulko’s absence was likely scrapped.

Jason Momoa as Aquaman in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023), Warner Bros. Pictures

Noteworthy X scooper MyTimToShineHello shared new intel claiming Vulko was written out of Lost Kingdom from the jump. It’s alleged he succumbed to a virus that swept through Atlantis in a subplot that was in one of the first cuts of the film shown at test screenings.

MTTSH says, however, that the subplot was excised and not mentioned in the most recent cut screened.

Rumor has it Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is a mess, but we hope this Vulko scoop is true and Wan doesn’t do Willem Dafoe dirty.

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