‘Aquaman’: Jeff Nichols on Why He Opted Out of Directing the DC Film for Warner Bros.

     March 7, 2016

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There have been quite a few times throughout the history of cinema where the movie studio and the director have not been on the same page. Some of those ill-fated partnerships were axed before filming ever took place, while others unfortunately made their way to the big screen with disastrous results. Though Warner Bros. DC Comics films are about to get going in a big way once Batman v Superman opens, the massive amount of planning for the extended cinematic universe has been underway for some years. For that reason, director Jeff Nichols opted not to head up the studio’s Aquaman picture, despite being involved in talks.

Currently, James Wan is in the captain’s chair for the presumably deep-sea set picture that stars Jason Momoa in the title role. Nichols was once in talks for the position but both sides amicably agreed that it wasn’t a good fit. Chatting with Mike Sampson at Screencrush, Nichols talked at length about the decision not to pursue the director’s chair for Aquaman.


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Image via Warner Bros.

Nichols compares and contrasts his collaboration with the studio on his upcoming film Midnight Special versus what things would have had to be like on Aquaman:

The trick with ‘Midnight Special’ is even though it was made at the studio, they gave me a lot of control over the process. And I don’t just mean control over final cut, but it felt like we were making one of my movies. I had my team. I had my family there. My crew. We made the movie we all wanted to make. With the DC universe, so many parts of it had been activated and so many decisions had already been made that it felt more and more — and Warner Bros. agreed — that it was me trying to jump on a moving train. That’s not so much what I’m good at. I’m more of a ground up kinda guy.


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Image via Warner Bros.

The main complicating factor seemed to be that Warner Bros. wasn’t looking for a director to shepherd a solo film, but rather a piece of the ever-expanding puzzle that is the DC Cinematic Universe. Nichols addressed that aspect of the discussion:

It’s all a connected universe. And it should be. And I was an advocate of that. The decisions that Zack (Snyder) is going to make in Batman vs. Superman, those all connect to things that are going to happen in Justice League and all that. And I was a huge comic book nerd, so I know all these characters and they all need to be beautifully webbed together. I was just far enough on the outside that I could develop things in a vacuum all day long but it wasn’t going to line up with everything they had planned.


aquaman-director-jeff-nicholsIn a separate chat with The Playlist, Nichols said that he was drawn to the film as a comic book fan and more specifically because the hero had to deal with the loss of his son. However, he also confirmed that he was never attached to the film at all, but was involved with some discussions:

“We talked about it, but I was at Warner Brothers at a period of time when they were activating this entire DC universe and they had already slated all these films that didn’t have filmmakers. So it would have been odd to have been a director at Warner Brothers then and not get into some conversation about [those projects].”

Nichols’ own take on the super-powered story will debut on March 18th with Midnight Special, while Aquaman won’t surface until July 27, 2018. For more on Aquaman, take a look at some of our recent coverage below:


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