Published Dec 17, 2018There may be no jump scares or exorcisms in Aquaman, but horror is firmly embedded in the film's DNA. Director James Wan is best known for his contributions to the genre, having directed Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring. For Aquaman, his first foray into the tights'n'fights world, Wan brought over longtime collaborator Patrick Wilson — whom Wan directed in the first two Conjuring and Insidious movies — to play Aquaman's main villain, Orm Marius.
Speaking with Exclaim!, Wilson speaks highly of Wan's transition out of the realm of horror. "I never looked at him like a horror director, he never looked at me like a horror actor, so it's been exciting to do a different genre with him. I always knew he could do and would do a big-ol' action movie, I knew he had it in him, and I'm just glad he brought me along for the ride."
Wilson's work with Wan earned the actor a reputation of being a "scream king," and Wilson credits his work on horror films for helping him embrace the theatricality of superhero films — especially one as vibrant as Aquaman. "When you have to wear this costume and this mask, you have to embrace it. You cannot run from it," says the actor, whose character, the heir to the Atlantean throne, comes into conflict with his heroic half-brother Arthur "Aquaman" Curry, played by Jason Momoa, over how to engage with the "surface world" over water pollution. "I love the theatricality of it. And I think James knows that about me too. Look, you can't half-ass damning a demon back to hell. Horror movies have a sense of language as well."
This isn't Wilson's first superhero film — the actor portrayed Nite Owl in Zack Snyder's 2009 Watchmen film — but Wilson believes that the world hasn't yet hit the saturation point as far as big-screen superhero films are concerned. "I think there's room for all of them," he says. "It's a nice fit into the DC universe, and there's a vibrancy of colour with this movie that is really refreshing to see."
With the exception of Wonder Woman, many of the other films in the DC Extended Universe — including Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League — have featured a dark tone, but Aquaman embraces the bright blues of underwater techno-paradise Atlantis and, of course, the trademark orange and green of Aquaman's iconic costume. It's a step in a different direction for the film franchise, one that will surely be continued with next year's bright and comedic Shazam!, featuring Chuck star Zachary Levi in the titular role.
"I think that's incredible to be a part of," Wilson says. "Now we really feel like we're moving forward. So there's a lot that's offered here."