Comic book devotees know that Aquaman has a long and storied history within the DC universe. After his creative birth in 1941, Aquaman rapidly became a fan favorite and valued member of the Justice League. However, to the average person, Aquaman might not be the first comic book character they think of when the phrase ‘hardcore superhero’ comes to mind.
During the ’60s and ’70s, the Atlantean king’s – shall we say, unique – color scheme coupled with his silly Super Friends cartoon show persona tarnished his image. However, director James Wan wants everyone to know Aquaman is back with a vengeance.
Currently filming the Aquaman standalone, Wan spoke with CBR about the perks and challenges of filming the undersea ruler. The Conjuring 2 director found inspiration for his solo shot in Geoff Johns’ New 52 version of the popular waterlogged hero. When the now-DC bigwig revamped the Atlantean king during the 2011 reboot, he put a good deal of effort into reworking the character. The once-faltering hero became a brutal opponent of oceanic defilers and those hurting the creatures in his domain. It’s this surlier, darker (although maybe not Batman V Superman dark) version Wan seeks to continue on the big screen:
“I’m a big fan of what Geoff Johns did with his new take on ‘Aquaman,’ with the New 52. I think for the first time, we get to see Aquaman as a superhero that definitely isn’t the butt of superhero jokes, right? I think that there’s something very exciting about that.”
Wan isn’t merely interested in taking a spoofy character and re-imagining him for a new audience. He’s also excited to be working with a character with far less fan baggage attached to him. Wan continues:
“I actually do think there’s something kind of fun, as well, to take a character where people don’t quite know what to expect from him, or rather the expectation of him is quite low. I always say, it’s very difficult when you’re tackling something like ‘Spider-Man’ or ‘Batman’ that has been done so many times before. Whereas, it’s actually really refreshing to take on something like ‘Aquaman,’ that no one has really seen before in this context, and make it your own.”
Truthfully, Wan couldn’t have asked for a better character to work with. Most of the major characters in the DCEU already have one if not several film versions attached to them. Superman himself has numerous iterations, including Henry Cavill, Dean Cain, and Christopher Reeve (not to mention the small screen’s Tom Welling). Batman, Wonder Woman, and The Flash also have at least one well-known movie or television incarnation playing against expectation. Certainly, Aquaman comes with his own set of expectations.
Fortunately for Wan and crew, though, the standalone only has to deal with DC devotees who wanted an alternate look for Aquaman, or who don’t take the character seriously. If Wan stays true to his (and Johns’) vision of the character, the DCEU’s Atlantean ruler will be a rougher, more intense character than most casual cinemagoers have in mind. Hopefully, he’ll still be able to have a lot of fun with Aquaman as well.
Suicide Squad will hit theaters on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020.