di­rec­tor James Wan ex­plains why he’s not tak­ing the stan­dard su­per­hero ap­proach with aquaman… words matt maytum

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The fishy fella with the tri­dent hits Hall H…

Be­cause his back cat­a­logue in­cludes the likes of Saw, In­sid­i­ous and The Con­jur­ing, James Wan’s name is prob­a­bly still most closely as­so­ci­ated with low-bud­get hor­ror. For now. Be­cause as Fast & Fu­ri­ous 7 proved, he knows how to han­dle an es­tab­lished block­buster fran­chise, and he’s look­ing to put his own unique stamp on the DCEU’s next stand­alone su­per­hero movie.

“I grew up lov­ing all the classic George Lu­cas, Steven Spiel­berg, James Cameron movies,” Wan tells TF ahead of de­but­ing a new trailer (and some ex­clu­sive footage) at San Diego’s Comic-Con. “So deep down, I’ve al­ways wished I could make those kind of movies. And that has al­ways been my goal. I love [hor­ror]. It’s def­i­nitely the best way to break into the in­dus­try. I just be­came some­what syn­ony­mous with it, so that peo­ple had a harder time see­ing me for any­thing else out­side of hor­ror. I just wanted to prove that I’m not just a hor­ror film­maker, I’m a film­maker, pe­riod.” sea change

Wan cer­tainly looks set to be ex­pand­ing his range with Aquaman. While fol­low­ing on from Jus­tice League in time­line terms, it also serves as the At­lantean king’s ori­gin story as it flashes back to his early life. Given that Arthur Curry (Aquaman’s al­ter ego) re­mained some­what enig­matic through­out the afore­men­tioned DC team-up movie, this is the chance to get to know him prop­erly be­fore he faces off against his half-brother Orm (Pa­trick Wil­son) and Black Manta (Yahya Ab­dul-Ma­teen II). And if the DC movies have a rep­u­ta­tion for gloomi­ness, Aquaman is step­ping far away from that, with a sub­aquatic king­dom that’s more rem­i­nis­cent of Avatar than BVS.

If any char­ac­ter is in need of bold treat­ment, it’s Aquaman. Be­fore Game Of Thrones beef­cake Ja­son Mo­moa picked up the tri­dent and took the char­ac­ter in a more badass di­rec­tion, Aquaman was the whip­ping boy of the comics world, his pow­ers and look re­lent­lessly teased. Wan is un­der no il­lu­sions about the char­ac­ter’s rep­u­ta­tion. “Let’s face it, he’s the su­per­hero that ev­ery­one makes fun of,” he laughs. “There was a bit of reser­va­tion at the start about whether or not I should pur­sue this char­ac­ter. But the more I thought about it, I al­ways love be­ing the un­der­dog. Com­ing from the hor­ror genre, you’re al­ways the un­der­dog. So I got used to that men­tal­ity. And then I thought, ‘Aquaman could be that guy! How awe­some would that be if I’m the one that made Aquaman su­per­cool?’ And with Ja­son as well, it takes it to a whole dif­fer­ent level.”

Prov­ing him­self a valu­able as­set to Warner Bros with the Con­jur­ing films, Wan earned the chance to pitch for a su­per­hero prop­erty. “I said, ‘I will do it only if I can do it my way. This is how I would do it.’ They heard my pitch, and they loved my take for it.” Wan’s take in­volved hark­ing back to those afore­men­tioned di­rec­tors and the classic ad­ven­ture movies he grew up with, want­ing to em­u­late that style of film­mak­ing, rather than fol­low the classic su­per­hero ori­gin story tem­plate. “He goes on this jour­ney to be­came the hero that he’s sup­posed to be.”

Also key to Wan’s vi­sion for Aquaman was his fan­tasy-es­que take on At­lantis, which fur­ther dis­tances it from tra­di­tional su­per­hero fare. “I pitched the vis­ual world and how I wanted it to be, like a big world-cre­ation film, some­what like Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings and things like that. But uniquely my take of that, be­cause it’s unique that it’s un­der­wa­ter. They loved the idea of that. I said, ‘I can have mon­sters in there. Are you guys OK if I have mon­sters in there?’ They said, ‘Have mon­sters!’” Although, as dif­fer­ent as it may seem to other comic-book movies, Aquaman is be­ing true to its source. “I didn’t just make stuff up,” laughs Wan. “It’s in­her­ently built into the mythol­ogy of the comic book.”

Di­rec­tor James Wan Star­rinG Ja­son mo­moa, am­ber Heard, Pa­trick Wil­son, YaHYa ab­dul-ma­teen ii, ni­cole kid­man eta 14 de­cem­ber 2018

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