The 37-year-old’s role as the paramour to Jason Momoa’s underwater superhero came into question during her high-profile 2022 defamation trial against ex-husband Johnny Depp.
During the trial, Heard testified that her part in the sequel was significantly cut down after Depp’s legal team called her abuse claims a “hoax”. “I fought really hard to stay in the movie. They didn’t want to include me in the film,” she said at the time.
Wan, who also directed the 2018 Aquaman, explained that Heard’s role was not cut down because of her trial but because he had always intended for the second film to shift focus to the King of Atlantis and supervillain Orm (played by Patrick Wilson).
“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,” the director said.
“So, the first was a romance action-adventure movie, the second one is a bromance action-adventure movie. We’ll leave it at that.”
The film’s trailer, which was exclusively presented to CinemaCon audience members in April, reportedly showed Heard for a brief scene.
Deadline reported that Heard “does have a cameo” in the trailer “but in a battle scene”.
Heard and Depp’s defamation trial ended with the Pirates of the Caribbean star winning. The jury ruled that Heard’s 2018 Washington Post article titled “I spoke up against sexual violence - and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change” was defamatory.
Heard was ordered to pay Depp $10m (£8.2m) in compensatory damages and $5m (£4.1m) in punitive damages. The latter sum was reduced to $350,000 (£287,000) to comply with a statutory cap.
Heard was awarded $2m (£1.6m) in damages in a counterclaim against Depp after his lawyer’s “hoax” usage was also found to be defamatory.
Amid the trial, a petition to remove Heard from Aquaman 2 entirely gained more than 4.5 million signatures.
Only one of Heard’s co-stars from the Aquaman franchise has since spoken publicly about working with her on the films. In June 2022, Dolph Lundgren said: “She was great. I worked with her on the first Aquaman, now the second one. We shot last fall in London. She’s terrific, I had a great experience with her.
“She’s very kind, nice to the crew, nice to everybody, just down to earth.”
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is set to be released in US cinemas on 25 December and in the UK on 29 December.