James Wan: Antarctica allowed me to explore a heightened version of the Lost Kingdom

Director James Wan talks about returning to the world of Atlantis, expanding the world of Aquaman to the icy plains of Antarctica, and the heart of Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom 
James Wan: Antarctica allowed me to explore a heightened version of the Lost Kingdom

Right around the same time in 2018 when the Marvel superheroes charged into space to battle Thanos with Avengers: Infinity War, the DC universe took us to the cold, unexplored depths of the oceans, and introduced us to the world of the Atlantians. And as 2023 comes to an end, we are once again invited to explore the vibrant underwater civilization aglow with bioluminescent creatures and the rockstar energy of their new king, Arthur Curry AKA Aquaman. 

James Wan, who returns to direct the sequel, talks about the changes in the protagonist's life in the second film. “Arthur is now juggling his duties as the King of Atlantis with fatherhood, having to protect both his kingdom and his family. While our last movie was a love story that focused on Arthur, this is an action-adventure with two brothers, Arthur and Orm, overcoming their differences to save the world.” And what or who exactly do they have to save the earth from? Who else but Aquaman’s arch-nemesis Black Manta. While 2018’s Aquaman might have received mixed responses, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s performance as Black Manta received unanimous praise from fans of the DC Universe. Wan asserts that we will see an evolved incarnation of Black Manta who is more driven, lethally upgraded, and seething with vengeance. “Arthur and Orm are going up against an even more powerful Black Manta, whose love for his father and his need for vengeance has taken a darker turn,” says the director. 

Talking about returning to work with the same team again, James Wan says, “I was thrilled to return to the family of Aquaman, the cast who made these characters so memorable and compelling—Jason, Patrick, Amber, Yahya and Nicole, alongside our full ensemble—and the creative team who helped build such a striking, unforgettable world. But now, the stakes are much higher and that world is much larger.” 

As someone credited with reinvigorating the horror genre for a new set of audiences, Wan is one of the most important contemporary filmmakers with the ability to extract the most out of a genre’s creative extents. His excitement about crafting the world of Aquaman is palpable when he says, “We wanted to not only expand the story and the characters but also give audiences an even more immersive and exciting experience.” On that note, Wan goes on to reveal more details about the world of Aquaman, which is all set to expand to the icy corners of the world. He reveals, “The stakes are much higher and the world is much larger. Atlantis is even bigger, brighter, more colorful, and more vibrant this time. However, Arthur and Orm are on a quest that will take them to an entirely new place: The Lost Kingdom. Antarctica felt like an inspiring landscape that is familiar, but it’s also a place most of us have not visited, and that would allow me to explore a heightened version of it. I was excited to create this kingdom, which is a completely new visual element in this film, along with other new worlds.” 

James Wan is also aware of what the audience expects out of him. “And I have to say, it wouldn’t be one of my films without some of my signature creations, so there are new, dark creatures for audiences to enjoy.” Even with an expansive world, wacky sub-zero adventures, an underwater kingdom to protect, and a terrifying supervillain to dread, Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom is still about the internal conflict of Arthur Curry, who is torn between worlds, responsibilities, roles, and loyalties. “Even though Aquaman sits on the throne, responsible for all of Atlantis, he is still a man, working to align his two roles—father and king,” signs off James Wan.

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