Aquaman became Warner Bros. first DC Extended Universe movie to pass $1 billion at the box office, so it didn't surprise anyone to learn Aquaman 2 is already in development, but it was a shocker to learn that a spin-off movie about The Trench is also in the works. The movie will be a 'horror-tinged' story about the monsters in the Kingdom of The Trench, but there might be more to it than that.
James Wan has always said he was drawn to the Lovecraftian nature of the deep ocean he could explore in Aquaman and made Warner Bros. promise to let him make monsters a focus of the film, but with the classic 80s Romancing the Stone style tone he was going for, he didn't get a huge opportunity to really dig into the scarier elements lurking at the corners of Aquaman. When weighing in on news of The Trench movie, Wan said he always "secretly hoped to explore this world further/more."
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As such, it's no surprise he's helping produce a movie about The Trench, and in fact, it's possible he's even taking a page out of J.J. Abrams' playbook to get it done. As reported by Variety, the writers recruited for The Trench spin-off, Noah Gardner and Aidan Fitzgerald, were actually assistants at J.J. Abrams' production company, Bad Robot, and previously wrote a script together, The Volos. Information on The Volos is scarce, but it's described simply as a "submarine thriller."
What's interesting about Gardner and Fitzgerald coming from Bad Robot is Abrams' production company has a reputation for taking existing small scale genre scripts and retrofitting them into the Cloverfield universe. 10 Cloverfield Lane was originally from a script called The Cellar and Cloverfield Paradox came from another script called God Particle.
The movies use this franchise transposition technique to varying degrees of success (10 Cloverfield Lane is mostly great, while Cloverfield Paradox is a bit of a mess), but it's still a fascinating concept, especially when you think applying the same format to the DC Universe. DC Films President Walter Hamada and producer James Wan have both seen big success developing smaller horror franchises, so it makes sense for them to now take some inspiration from J.J Abrams and turn some exciting scripts into small DC branded films.
The technique would certainly make sense for stories with less iconic characters, such as simply swapping The Trench out for the monsters in The Volos (assuming that's what's going on). The same method might me tricky for bigger movies or more iconic characters like Batman or Superman, who can't simply be interchanged with other pre-written characters, but it would certainly be a creative and exciting way to flesh out the DCEU, adding flavor and backstory through smaller inconsequential genre films while simultaneously raising the profile of a project that might not have gotten the same amount of attention (or a green light at all) sans franchise branding.
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