Aquaman director James Wan teases a 'Shakespearean story' of sibling rivalry
They say blood is thicker than water — but does that hold up underwater?
Audiences may find out in Warner Bros’. upcoming Aquaman movie, which director James Wan says will tell a “Shakespearean” tale of sibling rivalry set against a sci-fi/fantasy backdrop.
Speaking to EW at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Tuesday, the filmmaker teased the central conflict between Jason Momoa’s titular hero (a.k.a. Arthur Curry) and his villainous brother, Orm (who also goes by the nom de guerre Ocean Master).
“The main antagonist in this movie is Orm, played by Patrick Wilson,” Wan said. “And Black Manta, played by Yahya [Abdul-Mateen], is caught up in that world with them as well. But the main drive really is, it’s almost a very classic Shakespearean story about brother from another world vs. brother from another world. And it really is a classic story of sibling rivalry.”
Wan added that Aquaman will be unique among superhero movies because its danger comes not from the sky or another dimension, but from the depths.
“We’re used to superhero movies where the threat is from another dimension or aliens from another universe coming here and trying to destroy our Earth,” Wan said. “But we haven’t seen one where the main threat is from a massive, massive civilization that is right under our nose, in the ocean.… The idea that there could be a massive civilization living right underneath [us] that we don’t know about is kind of scary and exciting.”
Aquaman will also mark Momoa’s first solo outing as the Atlantean hero, after a cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and a supporting role in Justice League, and Wan thinks he’s ready for the spotlight. “One of the things people will be surprised by is seeing that Jason Momoa is not just a tough guy, but that the guy is actually very charismatic, funny, goofy, and is a potential romantic lead,” he said.
Shortly after chatting with EW, Wan introduced some rough footage from the movie taking viewers straight into the vast undersea world of Atlantis. The footage featured Aquaman and Mera (Amber Heard) traveling in a spaceship-like vehicle into the lavish world, as well as Orm — with slicked-back, silvery-blond hair — standing in an arena as he intones, “My brother has come from the surface to challenge me for the throne.”
Momoa’s muscle-bound Aquaman delivers one-liners referring to his brute strength, such as, “I’ve learned from a young age not to show weakness, solving my problems with my fists. I’m a blunt instrument, and I’m good at it.”
Mera tells him he’s part of something deeper, and under threat of destruction.
The footage ended with an epic battle scene and Orm rasping, “War is coming to the surface, and I’m bringing the wrath of the Seven Seas with me.”
Aquaman hits theaters Dec. 21.