Peter Jackson reveals he turned down the opportunity to direct Aquaman twice. After helming a string of low-budget affairs like Bad Taste and Meet the Feebles, Jackson made the leap to blockbuster cinema with the groundbreaking Lord of the Rings trilogy. One of the defining film series of the 2000s, each installment found tremendous critical and commercial acclaim, with finale The Return of the King taking home a record 11 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Jackson. In the years since, Jackson made other major tentpoles like his 2005 King Kong remake and the Hobbit trilogy.
Given his penchant for grandiose, fantastical adventures, Jackson would seem like a natural fit for one of the many comic book adaptations that make their way to theaters on an annual basis. So it didn't come as much surprise last year when it was reported Jackson was considering calling the shots on a DCEU film, but he later debunked those rumors. But that doesn't mean studios weren't trying to lure him in, and now it's been revealed which DC movie Jackson turned down.
Speaking with Empire, Jackson recalled how WB offered him the Aquaman job twice, only for him to reject it in both instances. Jackson explained his unfamiliarity with the source material led him to pass:
“He said, ‘Are you a fan of Aquaman?’ I said, ‘No.’ Six months later: ‘Peter, are you a fan of Aquaman?’ I said, ’No, Kevin [Tsujihara], I already told you this.’ I’m not a superhero guy. I read Tintin… Look, films are hard. I only want to make something that I have a deep passion for.”
One does not have to be a massive fan about something in order to make a film about it, but Jackson's stance is understandable. Any film can be a grueling task to make - especially franchise blockbusters - and having a personal connection to the property can certainly help a director get through it. Jackson loves the Lord of the Rings books and the original King Kong film, which is what made him ideal choices for those movies. Viewers could feel his passion for the stories, which in turn made it easier for audiences to connect with the characters. On a technical level, Jackson likely would have been able to do some interesting things with Aquaman and the canvas of Atlantis, but perhaps the film would be lacking that extra touch to make it something special. It was a smart move by Jackson to resist the paycheck that would come with the gig and instead turn his attention to documentaries like They Shall Not Grow Old and his upcoming film on the Beatles.
And in the end, WB has to be happy with the way things ultimately turned out. James Wan's Aquaman was well-received by critics and fans and became the highest-grossing DC film of all-time. The blockbuster helped the DCEU rebound from the disaster that was Justice League and made Arthur Curry one of the franchise's cornerstone characters. Aquaman 2 is currently scheduled for December 2022 (though it may have to move due to the presence of a new Star Wars film there), and people are excited to see the series continue. At the time, WB was hoping to use Jackson's clout as a marketing tool for Aquaman (a lesser known hero), but everything fell into place.
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- DC Super Pets (2022) release date: May 20, 2022
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
- Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022