James Wan: “What I like about Aquaman is that he’s not Batman or Superman”

James Wan: “What I like about Aquaman is that he’s not Batman or Superman”

Meeting with director James Wan, whose blockbuster returns this evening on TF1. While waiting for its sequel, The Lost Kingdom, in a few days at the cinema…

Aquaman will be in the spotlight this Sunday on TF1, to wait until the release of its sequel, The Lost Kingdom, always worn by Jason Momoa. Postponed several times, this blockbuster, the final opus of the DCEU before the upheaval orchestrated by James Gunn and Peter Safran, will arrive in theaters on December 20.

First had met his director, James Wan, during Comic-Con 2018, a few months before the release of the first opus. We are republishing this interview to wait until the original film is rebroadcast this weekend on television, along with excerpts froma new intervieworganized precisely to talk about the saga as a whole.

Aquaman Keeps the DC Universe Afloat (Review)

Interview from July 21, 2018: After having revitalized horror cinema among the general public (Saw, Insidious, Conjuring), contemplated Hollywood closeting (the commercial failures of Dead Silence And Death Sentence) and reinvented himself as a blockbuster director (the dingo Fast & Furious 7), James Wan enters a new era of his career with Aquaman. A film that should make you forget the belly of Justice League and establish the underwater character as one of the major superheroes of the DC cinematic universe. Not won? The 41-year-old director thinks the opposite.

Little mystery but mystery nonetheless: when does the story ofAquaman ?
I’m going to lift the veil on this right away so that we will be rid of it: it’s a origin story but it takes place after the events of Justice League.

Justice League which was supposed to be the perfect launching pad for Aquaman. Except that things were much more complicated than expected: Jason Momoa’s performance was widely praised but the film tanked in theaters. We’ve given you a little soapy water…
(Laughs) Don’t worry, we should still get through this. The character was introduced in Justice League, so I have to respect what was established and everything that Jason Momoa invented to bring it to life on screen. This was also the subject of numerous discussions, because I had to be able to tell the story that was close to my heart and take the character towards something that fits the spirit that I wanted to instill. Aquaman will be caught up in an existential quest that will completely transform him. He won’t be the same man at the beginning and end of the film. But he will keep that impertinent charm that Jason Momoa knows how to play so well.

The budgets for your films are becoming more and more substantial. Was it the logical step in your career to direct a superhero film? You obviously had to go through that?
I definitely didn’t want to make a superhero movie just for the sake of making a superhero movie. There are so many at the moment, nothing forced me to do my part. But what I like about this character is precisely that he is not Batman or Superman. The general public has not followed his adventures for decades, he is “worn out”, if you like. And at the same time, many people have already heard of it. There is something familiar about it but not enough to prevent me from imposing my vision of the character and his world. It gives me a lot of freedom.

The original idea for the scenario is yours. What angle did you have in mind?
I started working on the story very early on with Geoff Johns. Our big question was: “ What do we REALLY want to see in an Aquaman movie? » So we listed several ideas and concepts and it quickly became obvious that I wanted to focus on Aquaman’s childhood. For example, spectators had to see him learning to swim, because it’s in these moments that a superhero film takes on its full meaning. I remember being captivated by the Spider-Man of Sam Raimi, when for the first time he climbs a wall or clings to buildings. I absolutely wanted to capture this spirit.

Zack Snyder left his mark on the DCEU with a visual style all his own. How do we escape from that to make the film our own?
Aquaman is visually completely different from other DC Comics films. Although most people know me for my horror films, I like to think I have a pretty rich visual style. And this project pushed me to my limits: I was able to imagine underwater worlds, completely crazy things! In my head, Aquaman was meant to be a sort of travel diary, so people would want to visit the filming locations. Magnificent places: blue sky, transparent water… I wanted this magical side to be part of the film, it’s this aesthetic that excited me.

Have you faced any obstacles? Things that worked in your mind but were very complicated to implement?
Yes, because it turns out that a good part of the story takes place underwater – obviously, otherwise it would be weird for a film Aquaman ! These are scenes that require a lot of technicality and preparation.

In particular, I heard that the movements of the actors’ hair had been a headache..
We actually invented a special process to manage this by computer. The hair movements are made in post-production to make it appear as if it is floating. Can you imagine the thing? A titanic job. It’s clearly the film with the most special effects of my career, even more than Fast & Furious 7. But I don’t want you to think that the whole film takes place underwater, because that’s not true: I’m trying to find the right balance with the scenes on the surface. I want to mix everything up, I need something new, something unexpected. This is what drives me. For example, the characters go to a desert kingdom at one point: well, a priori, it’s not really what you would think to see in a film Aquaman. And yet it works!

Trailer :

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