James Wan on why Aquaman is basically the Wolverine of the DC movie-verse

Contributed by
Aug 15, 2016

The director of Aquaman's upcoming standalone feature film has an interesting take on the man from Atlantis.

Speaking with IGN (via Slashfilm), director James Wan -- who will bring Aquaman's debut solo movie to the screen in 2018 -- said that he sees his protagonist, played by Jason Momoa, as a "reluctant" superhero. That certainly make sense given what we've seen of Aquaman so far in that recent Justice League trailer, where he seems a bit miffed, to say the least, at being tracked down by Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck).

But Wan went a bit further with his analysis of his water-based metahuman, suggesting that Aquaman reminds him of another superhero who was at first not interested in coming to the rescue of normal humans:

"I actually think it’s a brilliant move on Zack and co. to cast someone like Jason. Immediately, the whole joke aspect of Aquaman goes out the window. You have such a muscular, superhero-y character and one that is almost, to me, in some ways… I look at him, he’s kind of the Wolverine in some respect. He’s the outsider who gets pulled into this world and he kind of doesn’t want to belong and he was doing his own thing. And he prided freedom above everything else. That kind of plays nicely into who his character is. He’s like a reluctant superhero, right? He’s the reluctant king, basically, or would-be king."

There are a couple of takeaways from this: first, it sounds like Aquaman, aka Arthur Curry, might not be King of Atlantis when we first meet him; and second, the description of him as a "would-be king" kind of makes him more a parallel to Thor in some ways. But the "loner" aspect of Wolverine is there as well. Of course, how Wan, DC Films head Geoff Johns and Momoa ultimately shape the character will also be influenced by how he is presented by Zack Snyder in Justice League, which is filming now. Wan said he'll be watching closely:

"Listen, I’ll be honest, in some ways, JL will be an experiment for me to see what works and what may not work as well. And then kind of go, okay… Here’s the great thing, with all these superhero movies, you watch from one movie to another, and they always sort of slightly change things along the way. You kind of have to do that to make what’s best for your film."

One of the things that Wan hinted he'll be working on is how Aquaman communicates while he's underwater:

"I love the idea of underwater speaking but with a real sort of sonic, aquatic quality to it. So there’s this sort of aquatic, almost sonar/whale thing. Even though it’s in a human language, there’s this slight sort of underlay to it, this ping to it, which I think would be interesting for us to design from a sound design perspective. Yeah, it will be fun. Also, Zack has some ideas that he’ll be doing in Justice League."

Wan also credited Johns with making Aquaman cool again after many saw the character as a "joke of a superhero," citing Johns' work on the New 52 iteration of the character as a jumping-off point for his movie. Do you think Johns and Wan -- with some help from Snyder -- can make Aquaman just as cool on the screen? Do Wan's Wolverine comparisons sound apt to you?

Aquaman opens in theaters July 27, 2018, but we'll see Arthur in Justice League first on Nov. 17, 2017.

Make Your Inbox Important

Like Comic-Con. Except every week in your inbox.

Sign-up breaker