Can ‘Aquaman’ Shed His ‘Lameness’ Stigma With James Wan’s Help?
News came in earlier this week that director James Wan (Saw, Insidious) has signed on to direct the live-action Aquaman film, which will star Jason Momoa as the title character. Taking a more active role in the creative process, Wan is rumored to also be involved in supervising Aquaman’s writing with Kurt Johnstad penning the script.
Set for a 2018 release and based on the characters appearing in the DC Comics Aquaman series, Warner Bros. has released an initial plot summary for for the Aquaman film.
“Aquaman, the King of the Seven Seas and the reluctant ruler of Atlantis, who is caught between a surface world constantly ravaging the sea and Atlanteans looking to lash out in revolt, but is committed to protecting the entire globe.”
Sounds impressive, except for one little glitch: Aquaman himself. The character of Aquaman has always been problematic in whatever venue the superhero has appeared from the initial comic books, which were first published in 1941, up to present day appearances in both comic books and animated series. Aquaman’s popularity has been as unpredictable as the oceans that this superhero calls home, rising and falling at the slightest winds of change.
The addition of James Wan, best known for the in-your-face horror films that keep audiences filling the theater seats, may guarantee a fresh, bold look with his Aquaman adaptation, but can he silence Aquaman critics or will he seal the superhero’s fate for generations to come? Only the film itself can answer that, but, in the meantime, there are some things hopeful and loyal Aquaman fans want to know. These aren’t just whimsical fantasies, but issues Wan will have to address if he wants Aquaman to be a successful entry into the live-action superhero film genre.
The biggest question James Wan will have to address will be what, if any, super powers Aquaman will possess. Fans of comic books and Saturday morning cartoons all know that Aquaman can communicate with sea creatures through telepathy. A neat trick, but can it be used more impressively on film without becoming campy and hokey? And will Aquaman’s telepathic powers only affect creatures of the sea? It seems that James Wan may have an opportunity to draw more from Greek mythology and, more specifically, the legends of the lost city of Atlantis, but will he see that possibility or will he just go with what has already been done?
Another issue, almost as pressing, is the degree to which the film will use underwater shots. A film shot entirely underwater could be costly and, let’s face it, rather dull. After all, Aquaman never could master speaking below sea level without sounding like he was talking into a giant fan. There’s also the danger that Aquaman could come off resembling something more akin to a Baywatch reboot than a superhero film.
These are just some of the issues facing James Wan and his live-action Aquaman project, and it does seem like a daunting task, considering the limited material with which Wan has to work. As the New York Post pointed out, even Aquaman himself sometimes feels intimidated by his own limitations.
As one crook asks Aquaman, “How’s it feel to be nobody’s favorite superhero?”
[Featured image: Jason Momoa courtesy of DC Entertainment/Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice]