Along with Suicide Squad, The Flash, Wonder Woman, and Justice League, director James Wan's Aquaman helps fill a packed film slate for Warner Bros. Pictures' DC Extended Universe over the coming years. Each superhero film will be under pressure to perform well at the box office (in order to keep the the DCEU going) and earn a warmer reception (in general) than Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice did this year. If Aquaman even comes close to matching Batman V Superman's $872 million global box office haul, though, it'll be deemed a huge success.
Wan seems more than happy to accept that challenge and deliver a fresh take on the superhero genre with Aquaman, a film that features a strikingly 'unique' cinematic setting. The Jason Momoa-headlined DCEU film is moving forward at a time when more comic book movie adaptations than ever are releasing in theaters. It's for that reason that much of the conversation surrounding any one superhero film released nowadays focuses on how the movie in question stands out from the competition.
“I think a big part of it is because we’re finally at the point where we can actually tell these larger than life stories and have the technology to make them work. That’s one factor, that we can create these whiz-bang visuals to go with the story and ultimately superheroes say a lot about the society we grow up in. Pretty much all the good superheroes have some kind of social commentary about why they are who they are. It teaches values and so it’s a very important thing. On one hand it works on a surface level because it’s super incredible to watch from a visual feast standpoint but on another level it works on a very human level. It works on a very human, emotional level and I think it makes it fun for us.”
Wan quite rightly exudes optimism regarding technological advancements that actually allow these kind of films to be made. Let's face it, without cutting-edge effects neither Aquaman nor The Flash would logistically be able to exist. His point regarding the values and messages have always rung true with superheroes; for example, Superman became a moral compass among comic book readers, establishing an archetype for other superheroes that followed. Wan's comments about the importance maintaining a balance between visual prowess and an emotional connection is clearly something he's intends to apply with his directorial approach on Aquaman, too.
Aquaman will also feature a strikingly different world from that of other superhero films - something that also extends to other upcoming superhero movies, such as Marvel Studios' Doctor Strange (which dabbles in supernatural horror) or even 20th Century Fox's Wolverine 3 (an R-Rated film with a modern-western vibe). With Wan's promise to also bring a sense of fun to the Aquaman character and his world while delivering a strong story and action, the director's own addition to the superhero movie genre could prove to be a notable one.
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.