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James Wan Interview: Aquaman

Director James Wan is literally exploring uncharted waters with the latest live-action DC adaptation, Aquaman. Having tackled the action genre only once before with Fast and Furious 7, Wan is breathing new life into the DCEU after films like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League divided fans.

While the aforementioned entries in the DCEU did their best to create a unique foundation in comic book adaptations - contrasting the Marvel Cinematic Universe with darker storylines, solemn characters, and just an overall moodier aesthetic - Wan is bringing something new to the DC universe. During a junket interview for Aquaman, Wan opened up about his experience making the film, how action set pieces aren't so different from scary sequences, and what it's like entering into an established cinematic world - for the second time.

Related: Aquaman: James Wan Inspired Willem Dafoe's Return to the Superhero Genre

James, what is it about crafting a scary sequence that translates so well into crafting a big-budget action movie sequence?

Interesting... You know, I think a lot of it is paying attention to the little details. You know, whether it's a sort of a horror movie set piece or it is an action set piece, paying attention to the details and also kind of coming up with visuals and choreography of the way something plays out in a way that you kind of haven't quite seen before. For me, when I make- when I craft my horror scenes, I'm like, "OK, you've seen a creaking door, you've seen a rocking chair, but how do I do this in a way that really gets under their skin?" And that's the same with making action set pieces is, "Sure, you've seen car chases before, but let me show it in my way."And I think that's the most important thing is always trying to find a fresh, new take to the set pieces - regardless of whether it's horror or it's action or it's adventure. And I've applied that mentality to creating the visual look of this world is try and do something - create something - that we haven't quite seen before.

And, speaking of scary, what was your biggest fear in entering the DC universe?

I think my biggest fear is the same as Fast & Furious 7, because you're coming into an established world; and it's always daunting to take on a big film, regardless of whether it's a comic book movie or some other big films, there's a lot of expectation going for it, because it's not a small, little low-budget film, so there's a lot riding off that. But I try not to let that cloud my brain too much or cloud my vision. I just sort of focus on the film I want to make and I do it.

Aquaman Movie Set Photo James Wan

In Aquaman, there's this kind of '80s movie tone to it. Where did that come from, if that was on purpose?

I really think just, you know, growing up a child of the '80s and '90s. You know, just my love for filmmakers like Spielberg and Lucas and Tim Burton. And so, you know, when I finally get the chance to make my action-adventure film, I think a lot of what those guys had done had rubbed off on me in a big way. And that's just sort of the spirit that I wanted to make this film with. I mean, even down to the musical score, I wanted to- my inspiration was Jean-Michel Jarre, Giorgio Moroder. So, very sort of '80s sort of electronica. And Vangelis, of course, with what they did on Blade Runner. So, I really wanted that kind of flavor. But, in terms of the tone and the sort of visual look, I pulled all of that from the comic book.

So, dream scenario - I don't even know if you want to go into this - but if you can take anything from the comics as a source of inspiration for sequels in the franchise, is there anything that you really want to tackle?

Oh man, you're asking the big "S" question. I'm usually very reticent to answer that, only because I'm so superstitious. I'm highly superstitious and I don't like talking about sequels before this first one's even out.

Fair. That's fair.

But, you know, the comic book has a lot of stories, so...

More: Patrick Wilson Wants to Star in a James Wan Rom-Com

Key Release Dates
  • Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
Mark Wahlberg Bruce Willis Bryce Dalls Howard Samuel L Jackson
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