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Aquaman 2's James Wan explains why DC sequel didn't bring back Willem Dafoe

jason momoa in aquaman and the lost kingdom teaser
Aquaman 2's James Wan on Willem Dafoe absenceWarner Bros.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom director James Wan has explained why Willem Dafoe didn't return for the DC sequel.

A recently released trailer for the highly anticipated sequel to 2018's Aquaman confirmed the return of almost all the major players from the first instalment.

Featured in the trailer is Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry, Amber Heard as Mera, Temuera Morrison as Tom Curry, Nicole Kidman's Atlanna, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's Black Manta and Patrick Wilson as Orm.

jason momoa, aquaman and the lost kingdom
DC Entertainment - Warner Bros.

Related: Aquaman 2's first trailer finally arrives ahead of December release

Noticeably absent from the trailer is Willem Dafoe, who previously starred as Arthur's mentor Nuidis Vulko, an atlantean who taught young Arthur how to fight.

Speaking about Dafoe's absence, the movie's director Wan said Dafoe was unable to star in the film due to a scheduling conflict.

According to Wan, who also directed the 2018 film, Dafoe's decision left room for the director to explore Kidman's Atlanna role, paving the way for her to become Arthur's mentor.

"Willem is not in this one, no," Wan told Entertainment Weekly. "Part of the reason was because his schedule did not work out for us. But what that allowed me to do was expand on Atlanna's role. Atlanna in this one ultimately becomes Arthur's advisor. Because Arthur's not from this world, she helps him better understand the world and the politics of how things work."

willem dafoe, march 2016
Andrew Toth/FilmMagic - Getty Images

Related: Aquaman 2 will bring back the drum-playing octopus

In the sequel, which is set for release in cinemas on December 20, Aquaman must form an alliance with his imprisoned brother in order to save the family and protect their kingdom from Black Manta.

Following the announcement that James Gunn and Peter Safran would be taking over as the new heads of DC Studios, Momoa opened up about the future of Aquaman.

"We have a special relationship… I wish I could say more. I'll always be Aquaman, and there's a lot of evolution for that. So I'm not going anywhere, and it's very exciting," Momoa said.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is released in cinemas on December 20.

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