'Aquaman' Director Comments on Film's H.P. Lovecraft Influence

Author H.P. Lovecraft was a seminal figure in the world of sci-fi and horror fiction, yet he was also very racist, which are realities that many of his fans have had to grapple with. Aquaman director James Wan, who couldn't help but incorporate elements from the author's works into his film, addressed the complicated legacy of Lovecraft and how it impacted his film.

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In response to an article about the ways in which Aquaman drew inspiration from the author's works, Wan shared, "I wrestled with this. How much was I willing to lean into this talented xenophobe. I realized I couldn’t make an [Aquaman] movie without acknowledging his influences on me. So I decided, 'f-ck it, I’m gonna own it.' Have one of my characters quote his work. Which one? .....Black Manta."

Many fans of the author have taken the approach of trying to separate the art from the artist, claiming that the stories themselves are so different from Lovecraft's racist beliefs that they wouldn't let those opinions distract from his works. Other fans have attempted to justify his outlooks as being of their time and much more prevalent throughout all of society, with Lovecraft being only one person who was singled out.

Other readers, on the other hand, note that some of the author's racist beliefs made their way into his stories, dismissing his entire catalog.

Wan added in a follow-up tweet, "For all the reasons you pointed out in your article, Aquaman would’ve been the ultimate horror movie/story for Lovecraft. And I’m OK with that."

A core element of Aquaman is that he was born of two worlds, with a human father and an Atlantean mother. While some characters in the film dismiss the hero as not belonging to either species, the character is an inspiration specifically because he belongs to both species.

"Arthur’s the very definition of biracial. Half Surface Dweller, Half Atlantean," Wan shared on Twitter last week. "[Star Jason] Momoa’s mixed heritage perfectly aligns with this. As the world becomes increasingly diversified/mixed, it’s great to have a character modern kids can identify with. This was an important message for us."

Luckily, Wan was in the position to use exactly what Lovecraft would have feared to inspire his filmmaking, allowing him to not only pay respects to the author's imaginative mind while also delivering a story that would unnerve him.

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Fans can check out Aquaman when it lands in theaters on December 21st.

What do you think about Wan's remarks about Lovecraft? Let us know in the comments below!