Tag Archives: james wan

Swamp Thing Executive Producer James Wan Doesn’t Know or Understand Why It Was Cancelled

After airing just one episode, Swamp Thing on DC Universe was cancelled. That’s despite positive reviews of the show.

We have our theory as to part of the reason, but the series executive producer, and Aquaman director, James Wan seems to not know why either.

In a post on Instagram, Wan says he doesn’t “really know or understand” why it was cancelled. You can read that many ways, he doesn’t really know or he knows and just doesn’t understand the reasoning.

The series was to run 13 episodes but that was cut short to 10. Rumors have swirled as to why including creative differences, budget issues, too expensive, the future of DC Universe as a whole, to simple not liking it. This is one whose real reason may never be known.

Around the Tubes

The Magic Order #1

The weekend is almost here and we’re busy getting the second episode of Graphic Policy Weekly (or new weekly news show) ready! While we prepare for that, here’s some comic news from around the web in our morning roundup.

WLS-TV ABC Chicago – More than $10M in comics hit Chicago auction block – That’s some vintage comics.

IGN – Netflix’s The Magic Order: James Wan to Be Producer of Mark Millar Series – This could be pretty cool.

CBR – CW Announces Deathstroke Animated Series – Yes please!

Newsarama – The Tick Canceled – It wasn’t good people!

Aquaman Gets a Spin-Off with The Trench

The Trench

With a billion dollars and counting at the box office, a sequel for Aquaman is a lock. A spin-off starring Mera wouldn’t be a surprise, but a film about the Trench!?

The Hollywood Reporter has the scoop that Noah Gardner and Aidan Fitzgerald have been tapped to pen a horror-tinged script around the Trench.

A horror film with that setting isn’t too surprising and would match the tone for that sequence of the film which at times was some of the most tense and interesting of the movie and had Aquaman and Mera being assaulted by a swarm of the creatures and surrounded as they attempted to get to their location.

James Wan, who directed Aquaman, and Peter Safran will produce the project which so far is being called The Trench.

The Trench and its creatures are fairly recent additions to Aquaman having been introduced in 2011 when DC relaunched their entire line called the New 52. They are part of the various undersea kingdoms and were part of Atlantis but evolved differently after it sank.

Movie Review: Aquaman

Aquaman is a complicated movie. Literally. Its overly complex plot weighs down what otherwise might be an incredibly charming and action-packed film. Like its namesake, it’s also a weird hybrid — not of human and Atlantean, but of what is going to appeal to audiences on both sides of the Pacific. That means spectacular action sequences made for the lowest common denominator between the American heartland and the Chinese mainland. It’s destined to make half a billion dollars — and deservedly so — but more cynical and choosy audiences should maybe gravitate to other films in the crowded holiday-season-cinemascape that includes both Spider-Man and BumblebeeDespite all of that, this is easily the second best film of the DC Extended Universe. That’s not necessarily a compliment.

The film is charming, and we should pause for one moment to sit with that. An Aquaman movie is actually kind of cool. Yes– Aquaman. The charm here lies with stars Jason Momoa and Amber Heard. Momoa is having a lot of fun here, and embraces the film’s camp and hokeyness. He also sells it, helping most audience members swim along with the current. It also doesn’t hurt that in parts of the film he has his shirt off. In an opening scene (shown in the trailers) when he enters a submarine and asks, dripping with ocean water, “Permission to come aboard?” there was an audible gasp and a “Oh, Lordy, yes. Anytime!” in response from the seat behind me. The equal-opportunity-cheesecake here is pretty fun, but does beg a question. . . why does Momoa need to have a shirt on in any of the scenes? (Inquiring minds want to know.)

Heard is the salt and spice to Momoa’s sweetness. Unfortunately relegated to a lot of exposition, having to teach Arthur Curry (and us the audience) about things like Atlantean politics and the overly labyrinthine plot, she has to do more work than anyone else in the cast, but she does it well. And, she does it all while in the most ridiculous outfit and fake-looking wig possible, which is also impressive. Also unfortunately, she and Momoa get set up in the trope of the bickering-will-they-or-won’t-they couple. The romantic payoff in Act III is telegraphed way off, and is also strangely unearned. Despite being weighed down with all of this, Heard actually does a really great job. But so much of her potential is wasted.

But then there’s the villains. Patrick Wilson is serviceable as the angry King Orm / Ocean Master, but there’s not much more to him than he really, really wants that Atlantean throne. It’s Shakespearean, but sorta dumbed down to a lowest common denominator of the big superhero blockbuster.

And then you have Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), whom you could literally erase from the movie and solve a third of its problems. It’s not that the character is bad — he’s actually really cool looking fully decked out with that crazy helmet and shooting lasers from his eyes. It’s just that in a film this complicated, we didn’t need a second villain, and all he does is pad an already overstuffed film.

And can we talk for a second about the scene where he’s building his helmet and Depeche Mode’s “It’s No Good” is playing? What is he, me freshman year crying about my girlfriend breaking up with me? The song, even this new remix, is twenty years out of the zeitgeist and sticks out even worse than if Pitbull sampled Toto’s Africa and put it in the movie to signify they were in the Sahara desert. Oh wait. . .

It’s these kind of schlocky choices that make this movie more the equivalent of cotton candy than anything more substantive. But, that’s also what makes it a sort of great popcorn movie.

Most of the other DCEU movies sort of falter in their third acts with a big brawl against the big bad. In this one, we get our final showdown, but it takes place against the backdrop of an epic underwater battle that takes advantage of the sci-fi epic setting where you can do anything underwater. This is Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Avatar, complete with sea monsters, battle seahorses, and giant underwater ships firing lasers. It’s a little bit silly, but it’s a lot of fun.

It’s that sense of fun that is this movie’s saving grace. Yes, it’s overstuffed, overwrought, and overlong. But it’s essentially director James Wan doing what he has done previously in directing Fast and Furious, Saw, or The Conjuring movies. Ridiculous, over-the-top action somehow works as long as you don’t take it too seriously and let your stars chew up all the scenery they can. But this time– it’s under the sea!

Just like previous films this year like The Meg or Skyscraper, there are very clearly some things here designed for the Asian movie-going audience. Luckily, many of those things are the same things demanded by middlebrow American audiences as they shovel popcorn down their gullets by the buttery fistfuls. Hence, lowest common denominator.

That still makes it one of the best films of the DCEU. While it doesn’t hold a candle to Wonder Woman, at least it feels like these characters are able to have some fun and not be so dark and brooding all the time. Let’s hope they continue that sense of fun into next year’s Shazaam! and our DC characters get some of the movies they deserve.

3 out of 5 stars

Movie Review: Aquaman

Aquaman

One of the great joys of reading superhero comics is the eclectic nature of their inspiration. The genre has drawn on everything from pulp fiction to mythology, creating a body of work that is idiosyncratic and often gloriously absurd. Superhero movies, however, have tended to eschew this everything but the kitchen sink approach to present more grounded, realistic visions of the world they are trying to represent.

James Wan’s Aquaman is the first movie I have seen that really felt like reading a comic rather than just watching an adaptation of one. It’s the story of Arthur Curry, the son of an Atlantean queen and a human lighthouse keeper who must claim his birthright to stop his evil half-brother, Orm from becoming Ocean Master and waging a war of vengeance upon the surface world. The plot follows the same sort of meandering structure one would expect of a story being spread across five issues rather than three acts and its influences are pulled from across the cultural landscape including comics, film and mythology.  Wan’s visuals are spectacular presenting us with a lot of old concepts that feel fresh in the new light of his directorial vision. I was never really surprised but I wasn’t bored either. The characters are  archetypal and they fill their roles in the story with a good humor that is missing from more serious movies of this genre while never descending into parody.

Aquaman’s  greatest flaw is that the script itself is weak, relying far too heavily on tired tropes and cliched dialog for its own good. The first forty five minutes are a slog through a morass of set-up and exposition accompanied by some very dodgy CGI that makes several actors look more like cartoons or the victims of an over-enthusiastic plastic surgeon. The performances are mediocre overall though it’s hard to say whether they might have been improved with better material. Jason Momoa and Amber Heard  manage to plow through on shear charisma and almost impossible levels of raw sex appeal but I am forced to admit that Momoa’s range as an actor is limited to playing versions of himself. The comparison has been made to Flash Gordon but Aquamanlacks an actor of Max von Sydow’s talents to lend it weight and one of Brian Blessed’s exuberance to lift it up.  

Aquaman isn’t a great movie. It’s not going to win any Oscars and it may well be largely forgotten a year after its home viewing release. In spite of all its defects however  I enjoyed it more than any other superhero movie I’ve seen this year even if both Black Panther and Infinity War were better made.  Aquaman wears its soul on it’s sleeve and while there are moments where it struggles to stay afloat, it still manages to keep its head above water.

Overall Rating: 8 Recommendation: See

Aquaman Gets a Final Trailer


From Warner Bros. Pictures and director James Wan comes an action-packed adventure that spans the vast, visually breathtaking underwater world of the seven seas, Aquaman, starring Jason Momoa in the title role. The film reveals the origin story of half-human, half-Atlantean Arthur Curry and takes him on the journey of his lifetime—one that will not only force him to face who he really is, but to discover if he is worthy of who he was born to be…a king. The film also stars Amber Heard (“Justice League,” “Magic Mike XXL”) as Mera, a fierce warrior and Aquaman’s ally throughout his journey; Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe (“Platoon,” “Spider-Man 2”) as Vulko, council to the Atlantean throne; Patrick Wilson (“The Conjuring” films, “Watchmen”) as Orm/Ocean Master, the present King of Atlantis; Dolph Lundgren (“The Expendables” films) as Nereus, King of the Atlantean tribe Xebel; Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Netflix’s “The Get Down”) as the vengeful Black Manta; and Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (“The Hours,” “Lion”) as Arthur’s mom, Atlanna; as well as Ludi Lin (“Power Rangers”) as Captain Murk, Atlantean Commando; and Temuera Morrison (“Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones,” “Green Lantern”) as Arthur’s dad, Tom Curry. Wan directs from a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick (“The Conjuring 2”) and Will Beall (“Gangster Squad,” TV’s “Training Day”), story by Geoff Johns & James Wan and Will Beall, based on characters from DC, Aquaman created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger. The film is produced by Peter Safran and Rob Cowan, with Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Jon Berg, Geoff Johns and Walter Hamada serving as executive producers. Wan’s team behind the scenes includes such frequent collaborators as Oscar-nominated director of photography Don Burgess (“The Conjuring 2,” “Forrest Gump”), his five-time editor Kirk Morri (“The Conjuring” films, “Furious 7,” the “Insidious” films), and production designer Bill Brzeski (“Furious 7”). They are joined by costume designer Kym Barrett (“The Matrix” trilogy, “The Amazing Spider-Man”) and composer Rupert Gregson-Williams (“Wonder Woman”). Warner Bros. Pictures Presents a Safran Company Production, a James Wan Film, “Aquaman.” The film is set to hit theaters on December 21, 2018, in 3D and 2D and IMAX, and will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Aquaman Gets an Extended 5 Minute Video

From Warner Bros. Pictures and director James Wan comes an action-packed adventure that spans the vast, visually breathtaking underwater world of the seven seas, Aquaman, starring Jason Momoa in the title role. The film reveals the origin story of half-human, half-Atlantean Arthur Curry and takes him on the journey of his lifetime—one that will not only force him to face who he really is, but to discover if he is worthy of who he was born to be…a king.

Aquaman comes to theaters December 21.

SDCC 2018: Aquaman Gets Its First Official Trailer

As expected for some time now, San Diego Comic-Con brings us the debut of the first trailer for Aquaman. From Warner Bros. Pictures and director James Wan comes an action-packed adventure that spans the vast, visually breathtaking underwater world of the seven seas.

Aquaman stars Jason Momoa in the title role. The film reveals the origin story of half-human, half-Atlantean Arthur Curry and takes him on the journey of his lifetime—one that will not only force him to face who he really is, but to discover if he is worthy of who he was born to be…a king. The film also stars Amber Heard as Mera, a fierce warrior and Aquaman’s ally throughout his journey; Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe as Vulko, council to the Atlantean throne; Patrick Wilson as Orm/Ocean Master, the present King of Atlantis; Dolph Lundgren as Nereus, King of the Atlantean tribe Xebel; Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as the vengeful Black Manta; and Oscar winner Nicole Kidman as Arthur’s mom, Atlanna; as well as Ludi Lin as Captain Murk, Atlantean Commando; and Temuera Morrison as Arthur’s dad, Tom Curry.

Wan directs from a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Will Beall, story by Geoff Johns and James Wan and Will Beall. Aquaman was created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger.

The film is set to hit theaters on December 21, 2018, in 3D and 2D and IMAX.

Swamp Thing is Coming to DC’s Digital Service as a Live Action One-Hour Series

When CDC researcher Abby Arcane returns to her childhood home of Houma, Louisiana, in order to investigate a deadly swamp-borne virus, she develops a surprising bond with scientist Alec Holland — only to have him tragically taken from her. But as powerful forces descend on Houma, intent on exploiting the swamp’s mysterious properties for their own purposes, Abby will discover that the swamp holds mystical secrets, both horrifying and wondrous — and the potential love of her life may not be dead after all.

Based on the DC characters created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, Swamp Thing is coming to the new DC digital service as a one-hour live-action drama.

Warner Bros. Television is teaming up with Atomic Monsters and the one-hour drama is going to script-to-series.

It is being executive produced by James Wan (Atomic Monster), Mark Verheiden, Gary Dauberman, Michael Clear (Atomic Monster), co-produced by Rob Hackett (Atomic Monster), and written by Mark Verheiden and Gary Dauberman.

The series is aiming for a 2019 launch.

Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo is Being Developed into an Animated Series

Gaumont has optioned the iconic, multi-generational comic book series Usagi Yojimbo from the series creator, writer, and illustrator Stan Sakai, to be developed into an animated TV series. First published in 1984, the multiple award-winning Usagi Yojimbo is to be co-produced by Gaumont, Sakai, James Wan’s Atomic Monster, and Dark Horse Entertainment’s Mike Richardson and Keith Goldberg who will serve as executive producers, with Chris Tongue as co-executive producer. The announcement was made today by Gaumont’s President of Animation, Nicolas Atlan.

This will be the character’s first ever tv series, though not the first time the character has appeared on an animated series. The character has appeared appeared in all three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. Usagi debuted in TMNT in 1987 and he most recently appeared in Nickelodeon’s three-episode arc in the summer of 2017.

Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo takes place amidst a rich fantasy setting in 17th century Japan and features a diverse world of anthropomorphic characters. Miyamoto Usagi, otherwise known as Usagi Yojimbo, is a ronin warrior with the heart of a hero. A skilled swordsrabbit, and one-time bodyguard for a Japanese War Lord, he’s now masterless, and explores his world of immense castles and humble villages, encountering dinosaurs, Yokai (ghosts/monsters), cats, bats, bounty hunters, giant snakes, and even aliens, facing exciting adventures at every turn, always ready to help.

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