‘Aquaman’ Director on Marvel’s Most Surprising Achievement

Aquaman director James Wan isn’t burdened by Arthur Curry’s status in pop culture: rival Marvel Studios’ propensity for turning the unlikeliest of characters into worldwide phenomenon means such a feat is possible for the aquatic superhero, Wan told EW.

“I actually think the most incredible thing [Marvel] did is making Captain America and Thor accessible to the mainstream — especially outside of the United States,” Wan said. “The moment you can make a character called ‘Captain America’ work in Russia and China, then anything is possible.”

One of DC Comics’ most recognized — and joked about — comic book characters, Aquaman was modernized in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, where he’s played by beefy Game of Thrones alum Jason Momoa.

Reimagined as a burly, whiskey-chugging, jeans-wearing, tatted-up superhero, Aquaman will make his splash in a smaller corner of the wider DC Extended Universe — something the Conjuring and Furious 7 director required before agreeing to take the job.

“I told them that I understand and respect that Aquaman is part of a bigger universe but at the end of the day I have to tell the story I want to tell and want to develop the character because its such a big part of my life as the filmmaker behind it,” he said. “And that was something the studio was respectful about.”

“It's very important for me that I can put my stamp on it,” Wan told ComicBook.com of Aquaman in 2016. “If I can do that, I feel it will be pretty damn awesome.”

Warner Bros. turned to Wan, overseer of their hit Conjuring franchise, after the studio’s DC Comics-inspired universe floundered with missteps: DC has had less success at transforming B-list and C-list comic book characters into the globally-recognized A-list movie stars regularly produced by Disney-owned Marvel Studios, who have made unlikely characters like Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) into household names.

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Wan will debut the first Aquaman trailer at the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con ahead of the film’s December opening.

Starring Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick wilson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Dolph Lundgren, Tempera Morrison, Randall Park, Nicole Kidman, and Willem Dafoe, Aquaman opens December 21.