In a world of comic book movie universes constantly tying one to the other, James Wan wanted to keep Aquaman as isolated as possible to allow for certain freedoms.
Not only did Wan want to thoroughly introduce Arthur Curry's home of Atlantis in his film, something he was adamant about being privileged with while Justice League was in development, but he wanted to tell an entirely standalone story. The director opened up about as much while talking to ComicBook.com in his edit bay on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California.
"It was very important for me early on to be allowed to make my own film and to have my own voice be in there," Wan said. "After Furious Seven and Conjuring 2, I didn't want to be a director for hire. After Furious Seven, that's kind of who I was to some degree, but after that, I don't want to be that guy again. So, it was very important for me to be able to bring my own stamp, my own visual aesthetic, create the characters. Even though Jason [Momoa] has somewhat been established Justice League, I wanted to bring his character into this, basically, fresh in a lot of ways. So it was important for me to obviously pay a respect to where he was left off in [Justice League], but then allow me the freedom to take him to where I want to take him at the end of the movie. My hero goes on this hero's journey to become someone very different than where he started. That was something that was very important for me. But the movie I want to make, that I was allowed that freedom to do that."
Aquaman will be completely free of Justice League characters, with the exception being the hero in the title and his close pal Mera. "The good thing about not necessarily involving the other characters, I can kind of do whatever I want in this story, in this world, and not be beholden to what somebody else is making," Wan said. "And vice versa, not have someone else be beholden to what I'm doing. What I'm doing is very circular to the world of Aquaman."
As for whether or not there are seeds regarding other ensemble films in the DC Extended Universe or for future Aquaman movies being planted, Wan says, "You're just going to have to wait for the film."
Wan is enthusiastic about the world he is able to establish in the upcoming film but seems eager to go another round with the world-building within Atlantis. "I definitely got to create a massive part," Wan said. "I really think what has been really fun, and I think for moviegoers, not just the fans, is when they see this film, they're not just seeing a world of DC. They're literally seeing a world within Aquaman itself. Just within the world of Aquaman, just creating the different kingdoms, like the different world, the machines that drive the world. They transport the animals that live in this underwater world and all that stuff. So I've never made a movie that is so heavily designed to this extent, and it was really awesome just being able to come up with really interesting things, and just run with it. And when the film comes out, I think you're going to see how crazy big it is."
Aquaman is set for release on December 21, 2018.