James Wan Turned Down The Flash To Direct Aquaman


It’s been a long and ironically slow journey for the Flash’s big screen solo debut, which has seen the project go through multiple directors before coming into the hands of Game Night helmsmen John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. And on the extensive list of filmmakers who almost brought Barry Allen back to theaters is apparently Aquaman director James Wan.

In an interview with the New York Times, Wan recalled how Warner Bros. gave him the choice of two DCEU projects he could give a try.

“Having made The Conjuring, I was part of the Warner Bros. family, and I knew they were doing their DC thing,” Wan said. “I spoke with Kevin Tsujihara [the Warner Bros. chairman and chief executive] at a premiere and I said, ‘I’m interested in the properties that you have at DC.’ A few months later, I was in a general meeting with DC and they floated two properties that didn’t have filmmakers on board: the Flash and Aquaman.”

Wan’s decision to take on Arthur Curry’s story has turned out pretty well for him, with the movie earning generally favorable reviews and some strong international box office figures. All the same, you’d think that the Flash might’ve been the safer bet, given both the small screen success of the character and the lesser popularity of Aquaman, who was traditionally only mentioned outside of comic book circles as a punchline. For Wan, however, it was the relatively untouched status of Arthur and the world he inhabited that made him so appealing.

“I felt the Flash had been done before,” Wan said. “It had been on TV twice at that point. The one that had not been done was Aquaman. I realized, wow, his character resides in this crazy, big world, and I could do something very interesting with it. I look up to people like Spielberg, Cameron, Lucas, John Carpenter. I’m a fan of genre filmmaking, naturally. So I thought I could make Aquaman a genre film, meaning a horror monster movie. DC basically said, yes, you can make Aquaman versus sea monsters if that’s what you want.”

Thus the filmmaker went for Aquaman, and set about fleshing out his unique environment. And as you can imagine, bringing this crazy underwater world to live action came with plenty of complications.

“There really aren’t a lot of visual cues from existing films to pull from,” Wan said. “That was exciting for me, because I get to create a new world. In terms of the technicality of it: It was a pain. The actors would be suited up in their costumes, and placed inside these really awkward, uncomfortable rigs. Then visual effects would come in and add the flowing hair, the floating costumes and capes, and then paint in the entire world. A simple scene of two people talking underwater would just take days and days to shoot.”

You can judge for yourself if all the effort was worth it when Aquaman hits theaters on December 21st. In the meantime, we can now put the Flash alongside Blade and Batman on the list of comic book characters that Wan probably ended up adapting in a parallel universe.