It's a strange time to be a DC fan. As Suicide Squad divides fans and critics, but pulls in hundreds of millions at the box office like Batman v Superman before it, the future of the DCEU could be viewed either as a promising unknown or a project doomed to fail. I prefer to take the first opinion, one of the biggest causes for optimism being Warner Bros.' inspired selection of directors for Wonder Woman, Aquaman and The Flash.
While The Flash and Wonder Woman already exist as widely-popular heroes outside of the DC Comics universe, Aquaman is more of an anomaly — but the decision to place his solo movie in the hands of latter-day horror maestro James Wan feels like a major vote of confidence in Arthur Curry.
Between Lights Out and The Conjuring 2, Wan has been kind of busy lately (you've probably noticed), but in an interview with Collider the director spoke at length about the process of beginning work on Aquaman and how his movie will relate to the other movies of the DCEU:
"[I've] been really creatively diving myself – no pun intended – into the world of Aquaman and taking that on board, and seeing the world that Aquaman is now a part of, with Justice League coming up, and taking that and respecting that world that everyone has collectively created. It’s about honoring that world ... but making my own movie, as well. That’s very important for me.”
Although Warner Bros. have clearly attempted to contrast Marvel's in-house directing style by hiring a diverse selection of filmmakers, it's worth noting that they ultimately didn't place full trust in David Ayer, the final cut of Suicide Squad sporting clear outside influence.
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Wan has no intention of making a movie to somebody else's design, stressing that he and Geoff Johns will be behind every creative and story aspect of Aquaman:
“I’m not a director for hire. I’ve really only done one director for hire job, and that was Fast and Furious 7. If I don’t have a hand in creating it, then I’m not interested ... [Warner] are giving me a lot of leeway to create and craft my story, and it’s been a blast working with Geoff Johns to craft the story and the world, and seeing how it all ties back into what Zack [Snyder] is doing, as well.”
If Wan is successful in creating a playground for Aquaman clearly distinct from the DCEU (and you'd imagine he'll have to, given that Atlantis is far removed from Gotham or Metropolis), the studio will probably want to lock him down for a sequel, so demonstrating faith in his product and his vision is kind of essential.
But until Batman v Superman hit, the studio probably had absolute faith in Ayer's vision of Suicide Squad — so what's Wan's response to harsh critical reaction and the storm of media coverage that comes with it?
“I just try to focus on [my movie], I try to focus on the positive. I focus on what I think I can create the best character, create the best story and make the best movie. That’s all you can do. I try to listen to what’s going on around me, and I think it important but at the end of the day, I have to be the one to make those decisions ... I’ve made it pretty clear that if I were to get involved in this that I need the correct amount of time to do this right. That’s all I’ll say."
So, he's not about to relinquish creative control, and neither is he rushing to meet the July 27, 2018 release date currently set for Aquaman (the pressure to meet Suicide Squad's date gave Ayer only six weeks to turn in a complete script, an insanely slim timeframe by any standard). That can only be a good thing, and even the one "director for hire" job Wan took grossed $1.5bn and hit the hallowed 80+ on RottenTomatoes.
In short, Aquaman fans probably don't have much to worry about. Justice League should give us a stronger idea of what to expect from Curry's solo movie — check out our original video containing all the Easter Eggs you probably didn't miss (if you're a proper DC fan) in the Comic-Con trailer, then tell me —