A “swashbuckling action-adventure”—that’s how director James Wan just described his upcoming Aquaman stand-alone movie. Which raises a lot of questions. What will he be adventuring for? Will he fight pirates? Will I get to see Jason Momoa swinging around a ship with a cutlass between his teeth? Because if I don’t I’m going to be mad.
Speaking to Entertainment Tonight’s Ashley Crossan, Wan gave a grab bag of inspirations for Aquaman. “I kind of don’t want to give too much away but know this: The spirit that I’m going for is like a classic sort of swashbuckling action adventure, sort of high seas adventure story,” Wan said. This sounds perfectly reasonable for a movie involving the king of an underwater land. Sadly, we already know that this movie is set after Justice League, which means it can’t be the Aquaman/Pirates of the Caribbean crossover we’ve all been longing for. (That is less of a joke than it sounds; I would watch the hell out of that movie.)
Wan went on to say, “It’s ultimately a quest story in the spirit of Raiders of the Lost Ark meets Romancing the Stone.”
First of all, if it’s a “quest,” what are they questing for? If this was a Marvel movie, we’d know it was an Infinity Stone. But here our best guess is the Trident of Poseidon. It’s the powerful object most associated with Aquaman and Atlantis—and trying to get to it before Black Manta makes it the kind of action adventure race to the McGuffin that justifies the Raiders of the Lost Ark comparison.
The Romancing the Stone reference is much more out of left field. It’s a sort of obscure action/adventure/romance movie from 1984, but its protagonists accidentally stumble on a quest. The only comparison that really makes sense is if Wan is pulling from Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner’s chemistry in that movie for Aquaman (Momoa) and Mera (Amber Heard.)
Which kind of works with the other thing Wan described about the movie and its main characters. “I think Amber and Jason Momoa, in their moments in Justice League, [are] going to give the rest of the world a flavor of what their own standalone movie could be,” Wan said. “And that is just scratching the surface of what I plan to do.”
That a) sounds like Mera has almost as much screen time in the movie as Aquaman and b) also that anything we like about the characters in Justice League will be greatly expanded in the standalone.
But, really, if you say Aquaman is going to be “swashbuckling action adventure” and a “high seas adventure story” and he doesn’t have his hook hand?
I call foul.