One way that Warner Bros. has made sure its DCEU series of DC superhero movies feels distinct from its chief competition at Marvel has been how it has looked to attract directors with distinct visions for their characters. It’s a holdover from the freedom afforded Christopher Nolan on The Dark Knight trilogy, and despite the well publicized troubles with Justice League, there’s no denying that Zack Snyder had a free hand with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
So when James Wan was first announced as the director of the Aquaman movie in 2015, it was another sign that Warner Bros. was courting directors who could put their mark on their characters. And while Aquaman had long been a priority for the studio, he doesn’t seem like the most obvious choice for a director like Wan, who made his mark in horror movies. But it turns out that the studio offered Wan his choice of superhero movies.
“It was two characters,” Wan tells Den of Geek. “It was Aquaman and The Flash.”
“I think the Flash is a really cool character,” Wan says, “But the reason why, ultimately, I picked Aquaman is that he had never been done on the big screen or the small screen before. At least, not to this level. I think there was The Man From Atlantis, the Patrick Duffy film. But that’s not really an Aquaman story.”
So why Aquaman and not a more well-known (and traditional) superhero like The Flash?
“I picked Aquaman because I felt like he was very unique. I’ve never seen him before. And also it allowed me to do my world creation film. The Flash lives more in the real world while Aquaman just lives in this world that I can just create from the ground up.”
As a movie, Aquaman spends more time in its old fashioned fantasy world, or building on its adventure movie tone than it does on anything like superheroics, and that’s something that Wan might not have had an opportunity to do with The Flash.
“I did not want to make a traditional superhero film,” Wan says. “I did not want to make a movie that felt that way. I wanted to make an adventure, a fantasy film, not dissimilar to Lord of the Rings or Star Wars.”
We’ll have more from our talk with James Wan in the coming days.