There will be much analysis made of a brief scene from Aquaman, in which a conspiracy theorist on a cable news program discusses his belief in Atlantis -- only to be dismissed by the commentators.
Why would people be talking about it? Well, the character reappears later, in a stinger that promises he might have a bigger role in a potential Aquaman sequel which seems like almost a certainty given how popular the film is. What's more, there are additional Easter eggs hidden away in the scene which might set up different, and even bigger, ideas for Ava DuVernay's planned New Gods movie.
Spoilers ahead for Aquaman, which hits theaters today.
The scientist, for the record, is Dr. Stephen Shin, who seems likely to be helping out the bad guys (at least from the look of that last scene) in the next film.
In DC Comics, Dr. Stephen Shin is an ally to Arthur Curry and Mera, having been a friend to Arthur's father Tom previously. Like the live-action counterpart, Dr. Stephen Shin is more privy to knowledge of Atlantis, its people, and its technology than other surface dwellers. As the story goes on, Dr. Stephen Shin's trust is in question by Mera when Tom Curry is found dead in his lighthouse. He ultimately plays a role in Black Manta becoming more powerful by helping him discover and obtain the Dead King's Scepter.
The folks interviewing him, though? Well, it's on the GBS Network. That's Galaxy Broadcasting System, or Galaxy Communications, owned in the comics by Superman villain Morgan Edge.
Edge, last seen in live-action as played by Heroes alum Adrian Pasdar on Supergirl, is the son of Vincent Edge, a wealthy and corrupt media magnate who, among other things, caused the death of his wife (Morgan’s mother). It was his hatred of his father, shouted to the heavens, that created a lasting relationship between Edge and the hordes of Apokolips when the heavens seemingly answered him in the form of a vision of Darkseid.
The relationship between Edge and Darkseid was a part of his journey in both the pre- and post-Crisis on Infinite Earths versions of his character, but we will focus on the post-Crisis take, since that appears more in line with what Supergirl has done in the recent past and seems likely to pursue with the TV version of Edge’s character.
Worth noting, though, is this: in the pre-Crisis era, Edge was developed by creator Jack Kirby to explore the idea of organized crime developing roots in corporate America, and may have been a commentary on his own corporate overlords at DC on some level.
DC editorial reportedly asked Kirby to keep Edge around, and the villainous version of the character was revealed to be an impostor, freeing up a smarmy-but-not-actually-EVIL Edge to recur for years.
In the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths era, the story was repeated somewhat -- but instead of Edge being the impostor it was Darkseid. The Earth media is well below the interests of the god of Apokolips, but for reasons of his own, Darkseid's lackey DeSaad impersonated his lord to use Edge against Superman.
Edge's involvement with GBS is particularly interesting since one of the talking heads interviewing Shin -- the one played by Devika Parikh -- is credited in the film's closing credits as "Newscaster Morgan." Given that Morgan is a unisex name, she could be a gender-swapped version of Morgan Edge if the filmmakers chose to go that way.
GBS also employed Glorious Godfrey at one point -- an evil New God who used his powers and silver tongue to go on TV and convince the people of Earth that superheroes were dangerous and evil, turning public opinion against those who might protect them from Darkseid's wrath.
Given the current discussions about "fake news" and how corporations can use their ownership of the media to shape the narrative in ways that benefit them politically and financially, a character like Glorious Godfrey could pretty easily be made to feel very prescient in a future movie.3comments
In the same way Aquaman's journey to the center of the Earth could offer fans a glimpse at Skartaris, but doesn't necessarily "have to" in order to feel like it paid off, that cable news scene might be even bigger than we thought.
Aquaman is in theaters now. There is little concrete information yet about the New Gods movie, which is still in early development.