When Warner Bros. first announced plans to make an Aquaman movie, it posed a tricky challenge for the superhero genre. Given his colorful swimwear and proclivity for chatting with fishes, the titular character can so easily become the butt of a joke, and the fact that he lives underwater makes crafting an entire live-action feature film around the character difficult. But the picture got off on the right foot when Zack Snyder opted to cast Jason Momoa, an unlikely choice but one that quite instantly removes the “joke” aspect from the equation. And then, Warner Bros. set The Conjuring, Saw, and Furious 7 director James Wan to take the helm, potentially easing fears about the underwater concern.
The project has been in development for some time now, but Wan has finally gotten the opportunity to sit down and focus intently on Aquaman having wrapped up his production, post-production, and promotional duties on The Conjuring 2 as well as promotion for Lights Out, which he produced. But while Momoa is busy shooting Justice League, Wan is occupying his time with directing and producing the pilot for the upcoming CBS reboot series MacGyver.
Wan was at the Television Critics Association today to promote the series, and during an interview with Collider’s own Christina Radish, the filmmaker teased a few details for Aquaman, specifically about bridging the gap between honoring the world that Snyder has created but also making Aquaman his own:
“Up until recently, I’ve just been super busy wrapping up all things The Conjuring 2 related, and then promoting Lights Out. Now that that’s out of the way, I can finally focus on everything Aquaman related. It’s been good. It’s been really creatively diving myself – no pun intended – into the world of Aquaman and taking that on board, and seeing the world that Aquaman is now a part of, with Justice League coming up, and taking that and respecting that world that everyone has collectively created. It’s about honoring that world, but also, at the same time, making my own movie, as well. That’s very important for me.”
We recently heard that Wan sat down with DC Comics COO and newly installed DC Films head Geoff Johns to hammer out the story for Aquaman, and Wan spoke a bit about his working relationship with the DC expert and the collaborative atmosphere at Warner Bros.:
“I’m not a director for hire. I’ve really only done one director for hire job, and that was Fast and Furious 7. If I don’t have a hand in creating it, then I’m not interested. I’ve been very fortunate, as a filmmaker, that a lot of things that I have created have gone on to be successful, and I take a lot of pride in that. They are giving me a lot of leeway to create and craft my story, and it’s been a blast working with Geoff Johns to craft the story and the world, and seeing how it all ties back into what Zack [Snyder] is doing, as well.”
Additionally, just after the full CBS panel at the TCA’s, Wan was asked about fears that his horror background will make an already dark DC Extended Universe too dark. He responded by pointing out the difference between dark creatures and dark tone:
“Here’s the thing that people are getting confused, just because you have scary stories or monsters doesn’t mean that it’s tonally dark. Look at Guillermo del Toro, he makes monsters all the time, but his stuff is fun. Tim Burton does it as well. It’s about how you do it.”
And when asked if he has a favorite Aquaman comic, Wan revealed that, “it’s Geoff Johns’ version that really got me excited about what Aquaman can be.”
Wan was also asked about the harshly negative reviews that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad have suffered and whether that impacts his work:
“I just try to focus on mine, I try to focus on the positive. I focus on what I think I can create the best character, create the best story and make the best movie. That’s all you can do. I try to listen to what’s going on around me, and I think it’ important but at the end of the day, I have to be the one to make those decisions.”
And while an initial release date of July 27, 2018 had been staked out by Warner Bros. early on, Wan says a condition of him signing on to direct was being given the time to ensure that the film was done right:
“There’s is a timetable of some sort, but I’ve made it pretty clear that if I were to get involved in this that I need the correct amount of time to do this right. That’s all I’ll say.”
Wan is certainly an exciting choice for this material, and fans are no doubt curious to see what he’ll put together for the final film. Here’s hoping that’s sooner rather than later.