A plot point in James Wan's Aquaman, in theaters today, may lay the groundwork for the arrival of one of DC's most underrated characters into their film universe.
One of the film's settings, a key location that plays a significant role in the plot, could have ties to Travis Morgan, the Warlord, a character created by Mike Grell and who starred in his own self-titled series from 1976 until 1988.
Spoilers ahead for Aquaman, in theaters now.
The Aquaman suit, it turns out, comes from Atlan, the ancient mystic-king of Atlantis, who died in shame and solitude, blaming himself for the kingdom's troubles. His trident, though, holds power both literal and symbolic, and the film is mostly a quest to obtain it, so that it can be used against Arthur's brother Orm, who wants to unite the kingdoms of Atlantis in a war on the surface world.
It is at the end of that map, after traveling through the Trench and into the center of the Earth, that Arthur and Mera discover not only Atlan's hideaway, but quite a bit more.
Here, rather than a fiery hellscape, the Center of the Earth is a kind of tropical paradise, drawing from myths and stories like Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. Overhead, something that looks like pterodactyls fly when Arthur and Mera first find their way onto land.
In DC Comics lore, the center of the Earth is usually home to Skartaris, a vast, mystical world that has a wide variety of flora, fauna, and climates. We have seen dinosaurs there quite a bit, living alongside mystics, barbarians, metahumans, and more. The idea of a portion of Skartaris being occupied by a hidden colony of Atlanteans is a pretty believable step.
While there is nothing about the area where Aquaman's mother has been stranded for years to suggest that it has a vast civilization attached to it somewhere, it is worth noting that Skartaris is also, traditionally, hidden. This means if they wanted to introduce Travis Morgan -- a pilot who finds his way there after a crash-landing and becomes the hero Warlord -- into the movies, this would be an easy way to do it. Doing so could also expand the world of Atlantis: in the film, they are cursed by a god and sink into the sea, blending technology with mysticism to survive...but almost everything we see in the movie is much more science than mysticism. Warlorld's world is fantastical, but almost entirely based on hand to hand combat and magic. His villains would be an interesting addition to the world of Aquaman in that they would fit with the movie's philosophy but not be redundant to any of the movie's existing characters.
And there is precedent for Atlantis and Skartaris to be connected in the comics: in a conversation with Warlord creator Mike Grell, he told ComicBook.com that there was "a shuttle train in this subterranean train system that linked the various Atlantean outposts at the center of the earth with various outposts on the surface like Machu Picchu," and that Travis Morgan would use that when he needed to get outside of Skartaris and do something on the surface.
The Warlord would also be in keeping with the apparent current philosophy at DC, making films that have lower expectations because they utilize characters who have broad appeal but have not been big hits recently. Movies based on Shazam! and Plastic Man embrace that philosophy, and other rumored projects DC has in the works like Booster Gold do as well.
What do you think? Could Skartaris be making its way to the big screen? Would you like to see Travis Morgan come to the DCEU? Comment below or hit up @russburlingame on Twitter.
Aquaman is directed by James Wan and stars Jason Momoa (Arthur/Aquaman), Amber Heard (Mera), Nicole Kidman (Queen Atlanna), Patrick Wilson (Orm/Ocean Master), Willem Dafoe (Nuidis Vulko), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), Ludi Lin (Murk), Dolph Lundgren (King Nereus), Djimon Hounsou (The Fisherman King), Natalia Safran (Fisherman Queen), and Michael Beach (Jesse Kane).
Aquaman lands in theaters on Friday, Dec. 21.