Last December marked the release of Aquaman, DC’s first solo movie since Wonder Woman to centre on a brand new hero, and it performed better than anyone expected. The Jason Momoa-led action flick earned Marmite reviews from critics – some liked it and some hated it – but fans loved it and it went onto earn a staggering $1.15 billion (£871 million) at the worldwide box office.
That was certainly a relief for Warner Bros; the studio was nursing a wounded ego after Justice League’s critical panning and comparatively disappointing box office take. For Aquaman producer Peter Safran it was absolutely “satisfying” to see the direction they took for the character had paid off.
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“I don’t think a film can have the success it’s had at the box office unless audiences felt it was really satisfying so yes we feel like we’re heading in the right direction with it,” Safran tells Yahoo Movies UK.
“We really love telling a great family story about a man trying to find his place in the world and where he belongs so I think those are the lessons it will bring to whatever the next movie ends up being.
“We certainly have real confidence that we are on the right path.”
That path was one of vibrant colour, humour, and a campy aesthetic to bring to life Arthur Curry’s underwater world of Atlantis, as well as the brilliant locations he globe-trots to complete his mission and prevent a war between land and sea.
It was certainly a departure from the dark world Zack Snyder had previously designed, though Safran says that decision was led by Aquaman’s character, rather than breaking from the established aesthetic of the DC Universe.
“I don’t think it was an intentional desire to brighten things up I think it was just about making films with the correct tone for the characters that they were based on,” the producer explained.
“Aquaman is quite a fantastical story, the undersea universe and all that, so it just lends itself to that brightwork and tone.”
Given the financial success of the movie it was a no-brainer for Warner Bros to greenlight a sequel for 2022 but the producer is not giving any plot details or potential characters away yet, however, he admits that he, James Wan, James Momoa, screenwriter David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and the studio have “batted ideas around.”
“We’re all talking about it because it certainly raises the stakes higher when the first movie has such a level of success,” he explains. “You want to make sure you don’t dilute the fan appreciation for future movies.”
However, Safran and Wan don’t mind shaking the DC Universe by doing what they do best and producing a horror. It’s long been reported that The Trench will be a spin-off in the Aquaman franchise and centre on the horrifying tribe of amphibious monsters Mera and Arthur face off against.
However, it doesn’t sound like its budget will be in quite the same league as the tentpole DC films that have already been released.
“We feel like within in the DC world, within the DC universe, there are opportunities to make films [that don’t] have to be those $200 million tentpole pictures,” Safran explains. “There are stories that can be told outside of those kinds of giant tentpoles.
“It’s a world that we’ve always enjoyed even as we were developing the film and felt there was a really compelling, more horror based story to be told there so we are incredibly excited to go down that path,” he added.
“Audiences will embrace good films in whatever format you deliver it to them so as long as we make a really scary and tense and compelling film people are going to embrace it.”
Aquaman and The Trench aren’t the only exciting DC products Safran has to work on; the producer is also involved in The Suicide Squad set to be directed by James Gunn.
“I can’t tell you much about it beyond what’s already out there other than it’s a James Gunn screenplay and it is everything you would hope that a James Gunn screenplay would be,” he says. “So we’re incredibly excited to make it this Fall and I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot of news about it in the coming weeks and months.”
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There has been a lot of chatter online about the movie, especially since Gunn has been rehired to direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 as he’ll be straddling the line between the two comic book worlds so often characterised by its Montague-Capulet-like rivalry.
“Social media is a magnifying glass for what I think is quite a modest rivalry,” Safran says. “James has always said, and I’ve always agreed, ‘that which unites comic book lovers is far greater than that which divides us,’ so the fact that James can direct a DC movie and then a Marvel movie and the Earth hasn’t spun off its axis means it’s not that big a deal.
“I think for all of us fans it’s just great for everyone,” the producer adds. “I look forward to Marvel movies and I look forward to DC movies and as long as they have great filmmakers and are telling great stories then I’ll be at the box office opening weekend.”
So are there plans for Gunn to make a brand new Suicide Squad trilogy?
“We just focus on making one good movie and then seeing what happens,” he says. “That’s kind of how we’re addressing it. I know that’s how James is addressing it but I’m sure if he has a great experience making it, he’s shown himself to not be averse to making more.”
Aquaman is out on Digital Download April 6th and available on 4K UHD, 3D, Blu-ray™ and DVD April 8th