[UPDATE: James Wan appears to have “debunked” this Aquaman rumor.]
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice made quite a bit of money at the box-office – but sometimes that’s not everything, even in Hollywood. The film’s divided reception from fans, many unfavorable reviews from film critics and steep box-office drop have many in the industry calling the future of DC Extended Universe uncertain.
Although director Zack Snyder is currently moving ahead on Justice League Part One nonetheless, Seth Grahame-Smith has now stepped down as the director on the DCEU Flash movie (citing creative differences). Now, as a related sign of trouble, comes speculation that Aquaman may be in danger of losing its own director: horror specialist James Wan.
The Wan rumor dropped as part of a broader speculative-reporting piece by Birth.Movies.Death‘s Devin Faraci, who expanded on the departure of Grahame-Smith from The Flash with details circulating about the bigger state of the DCEU. Most notably, Faraci alleges that Wan is feeling “a tremendous amount of trepidation” about moving forward with Aquaman, a character whose presence was part of the mid-film “info-dump” reveal of future Justice Leaguers in Batman V Superman.
The report notes that Wan has only recently moved into directing big-cast blockbusters with Furious 7, having previously preferred to remain pulling “auteur producer” duties on his self-shepherded horror franchises like The Conjuring, Insidious, and Saw. Thusly, he’d have comparatively little to lose were he to decide that Aquaman wasn’t a project he wanted to make after all; the project could use his clout and skill, but Wan himself is already a proven box-office leader set to make Warner Bros. a bunch of money this Summer with Conjuring 2 and Lights Out.
The report goes on to describe a similarly tense situation hovering over the production of Justice League, which has begun preliminary shooting under Zack Snyder. According to Faraci’s sources, Warner Bros. executives are “at odds” with the filmmaker over the direction of the film and the DCEU overall – but that the potential to further harm Batman V Superman’s box-office with bad publicity made delaying the film or removing Snyder impossible. Instead, according to Faraci, the situation led to:
“Lots of fights between Snyder and the WB execs, and lots of pressure from Burbank on Snyder, who is shooting in London.”
It’s unknown how many (if any) of these claims are factual, though the general sense that a studio might be moving to substantially change course on an expensive project while maintaining a public facade that everything is fine would be unsurprising to long-term industry watchers. Both Faraci and Birth.Movies.Death have been fairly reliable sources for all things DCEU in the past, having fielded reports of a controversial ending and troubled production for Dawn of Justice for months ahead of its official release.
UPDATE: James Wan, for his part, seemingly “debunked” this Aquaman rumor by posting the following image to his Twitter account not long after the original BMD article was published:
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in U.S. theaters. Suicide Squad will arrive 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 June 19, 2020.
Update Source: James Wan