James Wan's live-action Aquaman movie is almost upon us, a film that's been in the works at Warner Bros. for quite some time. As such, there's a ton of concept art from pre-production that was just begging for its own book. SYFY WIRE's own Mike Avila, was tapped to write The Art and Making of Aquaman for Insight Editions, which hits shelves in the new year.
We have the exclusive debut for the front and back covers, as well as an interior spread that discusses the character's 70+ year history since his introduction in 1941's More Fun Comics #73.
"The first thing I did was ask ... ‘How much inside baseball do you wanna be,'" Avila said. "And I don’t mean with the film, I mean with the character and his comic [book] history. Given that it is a comic book character, you can’t ignore that. We decided that we would focus on the movie, but we wanted to set up and introduce the character to people that maybe only knew him from Justice League, or maybe even from Super Friends."
Avila's research for the book also put him into the paths of the visual effects team, speaking to them during their breaks from arduous sessions in edit rooms and design suites.
As you can see above, the front cover is occupied by Jason Momoa's Arthur Curry, his face partly covered by the Trident of Neptune. Curry, along with the other prinipal characters like Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and Mera (Amber Heard), all have their own sections in the book. The movie's various locations and kingdoms (e.g. Amnesty Bay and The Trench) also get their own sections.
"We broke it down by sections because there’s so much in the movie and this whole mythology of Atlantis that’s being introduced here," Avila continued.
When it comes to the back cover, you've got what looks like the gladiator-esque battle between Curry and his half-brother Orm/Ocean Master (Patrick Wilson). This piece of concept art is one of many Mike got to see in an official lookbook from the studio.
"You could’ve just printed the lookbook and I think people would’ve bought it because the concept art that James Wan and his team put together for this is just amazing. It’s really spectacular how they conceptualized and visualized this from the beginning," he said. "The visuals in this movie are just mind boggling."
He also got to read the shooting script, which proved to be a huge resource in the writing process. In particular, it helped Mike to really visualize Wan's vision for Atlantis.
"It really helped me identify how important Atlantis is here and it’s pretty cool. It’s as well-realized as Gotham was in the Nolan [Batman] movies, according to Wan’s vision. It’s really great and visually, it’s just awesome."
Remaining wary of spoilers and repitition were two of the most difficult factors for Avila during the production of the book. While writing about all of the props and costumes, he had to consult a thesaurus often so as not to be too redundant. When it came to avoiding major plot spoilers, he was extra careful, making sure the book would enhance the moviegoing experience, not serve as a substitute for it.
"James was also pretty mindful of that as well. He’s the director, so he has a lot of say in it," Avila said with a laugh.
Avila noted readers will be surprised at just how creative and innovative the movie really is. He said Wan's way of shooting the feature mirrors James Cameron's patience of waiting for technology to catch up with his creative vision on projects like Avatar.
"The old rule of thumb in Hollywood is never shoot in the water because of all the problems that [can] happen," he continued. "James found a very novel way to work around that. He shot a movie based underwater that is barely shot in water. It’s pretty amazing. The way he shot the movie is pretty revolutionary and it’s also why we didn’t see anything from the movie for a long time. The special effects in this movie are so important to it, that I think he was smart to wait before revealing everything."
Aquaman dives into theaters Dec. 21. The book goes on sale January 1.