James Cameron once directed a fake Aquaman on the HBO series Entourage, but the director says he couldn’t have made the real Aquaman movie that came out last year with Jason Momoa and not Vincent Chase as the titular DC superhero. Aquaman of course was a smash hit for Warner Bros. and DC, grossing over $1 billion at the global box office.
No stranger to blockbuster box office performance himself, Cameron was responsible for two movies that crossed the $2 billion mark globally. The director’s 2009 movie Avatar still reigns as the all-time box office champ with $2.7 billion in ticket sales, while his 1997 movie Titanic sits at no. 2 with $2.1 billion. Cameron is currently making four Avatar sequels that will collectively cost over $1 billion to produce.
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Though Cameron has clearly mastered the art of the blockbuster, the director admits he couldn’t have made Aquaman the way director James Wan did. Speaking to Yahoo!, Cameron said that while he did like Aquaman, Wan’s approach to undersea fantasy wasn't exactly in keeping with his own beliefs about how to tackle such environments. Cameron explained:
I never could have made that film, because it requires this kind of total dreamlike disconnection from any sense of physics or reality. People just kind of zoom around underwater, because they propel themselves mentally, I guess, I don’t know. But it’s cool! You buy it on its own terms.
Cameron famously has spent a lot of time underwater, having directed the undersea sci-fi movie The Abyss as well as the feature film documentaries Ghosts of the Abyss and Aliens of the Deep. The director’s experience as a deep sea diver is in fact one reason why he says he can’t totally get into Aquaman. “I don’t resonate with it because it doesn’t look real,” he explained. Cameron, whose Avatar movies are heavily involved with environmental themes, did give credit to Wan for nodding at similar issues in Aquaman. Cameron somewhat tweaked Wan too by reminding him that, though Aquaman was a huge hit, it still fell far short of the $2 billion plateau Cameron himself has surpassed twice. “Come back when you hit your second billion and you’re on your way to your third - then we’ll talk,” the director quipped.
Cameron of course has somewhat of a connection to Aquaman thanks to the HBO series Entourage, which once featured a storyline where its lead character Vincent Chase was cast in a movie based on the DC superhero, directed by Cameron. Cameron even appeared as himself in several episodes as the show lampooned Hollywood blockbusters with the then-absurd notion of Aquaman starring in his own movie. Years later, reality has overtaken fiction, as an Aquaman standalone does indeed exist and has actually gone on to become the highest-grossing DC superhero movie.
Audiences love the fantasy approach to Aquaman crafted by Wan, as the box office numbers attest. Cameron himself will again employ his own more “realistic” approach to undersea action when Avatar 2 goes beneath the seas of Pandora to explore a whole new alien environment. It will be interesting to see if audiences embrace Cameron’s idea of an underwater fantasy world as wholeheartedly as they have taken to Aquaman. It could be argued that the release of Aquaman already stole Cameron’s thunder, but clearly Cameron does not think that way himself.
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