The Mad Max: Fury Road stunt crew sure made a name for themselves during George Miller’s return to his post-apocalyptic road movie series. Miller made it a point to have as much real effects as he could in the movie, and his stunt team was the best of the best. They even figured out how to do stunts practically that Miller was planning on using CGI for. Now, the stunt team will ride shiny and chrome once again, but instead of Valhalla, they’re heading to Atlantis.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a director in possession of frequent collaborators, once hired to direct a superhero film, will probably feature his collaborators in said film. Rick Famuyiwa, back when he was set to helm the Flash movie, brought on Kiersey Clemons, whom he directed in Dope; Taika Waititi is bringing Sam Neill, who starred in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, into Thor: Ragnarok. Now, James Wan, who directed Patrick Wilson in both Conjuring movies, has cast him as Orm in Aquaman.
Listen. I know that the DC Cinematic Universe gets a lot of criticism for its dour visuals and themes, but let’s give credit where credit is due: Jason Momoa’s Aquaman is really shaping up like the sleeper hit of the whole endeavor. With a visual aesthetic stolen directly from an episode of Sons of Anarchy — and perhaps the most talented director of the Warner Bros. slate behind the camera — this is shaping up to be the best movie about people who talk to fish since Disney’s animated adaptation of The Little Mermaid.
The ages-old query of “So, who were your influences on the film?” still appears regularly in interviews following a big-name movie’s release. But in recent years, directors have started to name the films they drew from before the premiere as a way of drumming up anticipatory buzz. At the Star Wars Celebration in London earlier this year, Episode VIII director Rian Johnson name-checked Bridge on the River Kwai, Three Outlaw Samurai, Letter Never Sent, and 12 O’Clock High as points of reference for the next Star Wars picture. The initial public response went along the lines of “lol what the hell are you talking about,” but eventually cooled into “Alright, can’t front, that sounds pretty awesome.”
The DC Extended Universe has some slam dunks (Justice League!) and some real risks. I would put Aquaman in the latter category. Previously best known as the guy on Super Friends who talks to fish, and so goofy a hero he was the butt of an extended joke about dumb Hollywood movies on Entourage, the King of the Seven Seas will headline his own movie in 2018 after he gets a proper introduction in next year’s Justice League. (Showing up on Wonder Woman’s computer screen in Batman v Superman doesn’t count.)
Last fall, it was reported that Warner Bros. had hired The Conjuring 2 scribe David Leslie Johnson to write the screenplay for Aquaman, which would reunite him with director James Wan. It looks like that didn’t exactly work out, as WB has now tapped Gangster Squad writer Will Beal to pen the screenplay based on a story treatment by Wan and DC’s Geoff Johns.
It was big news last week when Dope director Rick Famuyiwa was tapped to make the big-screen adaptation of DC Comics’ The Flash. Famuyiwa replaced Seth Grahame-Smith, who was originally supposed to make his directorial debut on the project, but later dropped out over “creative differences” with Warner Bros. But this whole scenario may not have played out if not for a decision made by a third filmmaker a few years ago.
There’s been a lot of chatter surrounding recent changes at Warner Bros. regarding their DC Extended Cinematic Universe. Following the underwhelming debut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice this past March, despite racking in $871 million worldwide, reports surfaced about executive shake-ups at the studio. Warner established a dedicated division called ‘DC Films,’ which is now spearheaded by DC Comics chief creative officer Geoff Johns. But that didn’t seem to be the last of it. Last week, the New York Post reported that Warner Bros. would be undergoing even more management changes over the next six months.
The rumors of James Wan’s production squabbles on the set of Aquaman have been greatly exaggerated. An item about the DC superhero film universe posted over the weekend on Birth.Movies.Death cited “multiple, reliable sources” as claiming that director James Wan has been having some misgivings about the process, and may depart the project entirely if the friction between him and studio brass doesn't clear up. Writer Devin Faraci’s exact words were “a tremendous amount of trepidation,” speculating that the Jason Momoa-led Aquaman needs Wan much more than he needs the movie, having already laid claim to Warner Bros.’ summer slate with The Conjuring 2 and Lights Out, the latter of which he produced.
It’s difficult to ignore rumors when they’re so consistent — and persistent. Following the negative critical response to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which didn’t perform as well as Warner Bros. expected at the box office, reports have surfaced that there’s some turmoil at the studio regarding the future of the Justice League franchise. Last night, news broke that Seth Grahame-Smith exited The Flash solo movie over “creative differences,” and a subsequent rumor seems to support the idea that WB’s DC plans aren’t going very smoothly.