In September 2020, during the early days of Heard & Depp's public dispute, it was reported that Heard would still be part of Aquaman 2. However, as the actress' legal fiasco with Depp continued, rumors emerged about Heard's status in the DCEU sequel.
Former president of DC Films Walter Hamada testified during the Heard-Depp trial in May 2022, confirming that Warner Bros. initially declined Heard's option to return in The Lost Kingdom due to apparent concerns that the studio had regarding Heard's chemistry with Aquaman franchise star Jason Momoa. However, this decision was reversed prior to the sequel's production start in 2021.
However, in June 2022, a rumor claimed that Heard's scenes as Mera were completely removed.
Will Amber Heard Be In Aquaman 2?
While Aquaman 2 actress Amber Heard confirmed that she will return as Mera in the sequel, the actress said during the defamation trial in May 2022 that it was a "very pared-down version" of the part she was meant to play.
Heard claimed in court that she was given "new versions" of the sequel's script that cut many of her notable scenes, such as action sequences and a fight scene involving Mera and an unknown character:
Lawyer: “Were you ultimately able to film in Aquaman 2?”
Heard: “A very pared-down version of that role, yes.”
Lawyer: “What if anything changed in the script?”
Heard: “I was given a script. Then given new versions of the script that had taken away scenes that had action in it, that depicted my character and another character, without giving spoilers away, two characters fighting with one another. They basically took a bunch out of my role. They just removed a bunch.”
In October 2023, Variety shared that the two Aquaman 2 scenes involving Mera that were removed were an action sequence against Black Manta and a love scene with Jason Momoa's Arthur Curry.
The complexities did not stop there as Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom director James Wan broke his silence about Heard's claims that her role was reduced in the sequel.
Wan told Entertainment Weekly in September 2023 that Aquaman 2's main focus is the brotherly bond between Momoa's Arthur Curry and Patrick Wilson's Orm, noting that Arthur and Mera's journey was only intended for the first movie:
"I always pitched this to everyone from the get-go. The first Aquaman was Arthur and Mera's journey. The second movie was always going to be Arthur and Orm. So, the first was a romance action-adventure movie, the second one is a bromance action-adventure movie. We'll leave it at that."
So Is Amber Heard Really in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom?
Marketing for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom eventually confirmed that Amber Heard does appear as Mera in the sequel, but it remains to be seen how big her role will be.
Mera was only briefly seen in the sequel's teaser, with the Atlantean running towards a house on fire.
Another promotional footage for Aquaman 2 only showed Mera from behind, with the shot focusing on the Curry family spending time with each other.
More scenes from Aquaman 2's marketing spree showcased a devastated Mera in front of the burning house that was spotted in the early promotional footage.
Lastly, a brief shot of an angry Mera trying to break a panel of glass in an underwater base was also shown.
Given that Aquaman 2 director James Wan already clarified a good chunk of the sequel will mainly focus on the growth of the bond between Arthur and Orm, it is safe to assume that Mera will only be relegated to a smaller role compared to her involvement in the first movie.
Based on the trailers, Heard's scenes as Mera seem to imply that she's out for revenge, possibly pursuing Black Manta for potentially kidnapping her son.
Whether or not she will be successful is another question altogether, but there's a chance that Arthur could ask her to remain in Atlantis to prepare for Black Manta's attack.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom arrives in theaters on Friday, December 22.