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Our first look at Aquaman was of the Atlantean war machine

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Like if a warhorse was a SHARK

Comic-Con International 2017 - Warner Bros. Pictures Presentation Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Warner Bros.’ upcoming Aquaman feature film isn’t quite ready for public viewing yet. The movie, set to premiere on Dec 21, 2018, is still in “early production” according to director James Wan.

Wan addressed a packed Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con in a video prepared especially for that audience, showing off concept art and clips from the upcoming film. The biggest lift that Aquaman will have to make in its franchise will be adding the thriving, technologically vibrant undersea kingdom of Atlantis to the DC Comics cinematic universe. And that’s what most of the video was about, showing concept art and drawings of Atlantean buildings, armor, costumes and people — most memorably a warrior astride a saddled and barded hammerhead shark.

And after the concept art was through, Wan had one more surprise: the lights in the hall dimmed for the first finished clip from Aquaman. It told a simple story: Two fishermen in a small boat in the open ocean think they’ve caught the big one — only to have their boat dragged at high speed until the rod is finally wrenched from their grasp.

An overhead view of the boat gave us just a small glimpse of what they’d snagged, and then pulled back for a full view of an Atlantean war fleet, full of massive ships and beasts — saddled great white sharks with riders, mid-sized fighter ships designed after manta rays and huge curving dreadnoughts, dark but for lines of lights evoking bioluminescence.

The clip concluded there, but the panel still had one detail for the audience — or, at least Jason Momoa, Aquaman himself, had one. For the final question of the panel, a fan asked point blank if the army in the clip had been Atlantean or perhaps more villainous. Seeming to relish a chance to get in trouble, Momoa confirmed: It was the army of Ocean Master, Aquaman’s villainous half-brother and his arch-nemesis.