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James Wan’s Lighter ‘Aquaman’ Tone Is Not a Reaction Against Zack Snyder’s DCEU Movies, Says Warner Bros. Executive

Warner Bros. film chairman Toby Emmerich also explains why he has a good feeling about "Aquaman" being a critical and box office success.

Jason Momoa, "Justice League"

Jason Momoa, “Justice League”

Warner Bros./Youtube Screenshot

Following the critical bashing of “Justice League” last fall, the DC Extended Universe hopes to reverse course and get back on track with the debut of “Aquaman” later this year. Warner Bros. film chairman Toby Emmerich knows just how important it is for “Aquaman” to be a hit, and he tells Entertainment Weekly the focus for the movie studio is all on ensuring the upcoming tentpole is a hit with critics and fans.

“It’s important that it works,” Emmerich said. “I think everybody really worked very hard to make a really good movie. It’s an expensive movie. We believe this movie can work and we’re going to do everything we can as a company — distribution, marketing everything — to make sure it’s successful around the world.”

One major difference between “Aquaman” and many of its DCEU predecessors is its lighter tone. Zack Snyder’s DCEU movies “Man of Steel,” “Batman v. Superman,” and “Justice League” have all been criticized for being overly serious, grim, and brooding, but Emmerich says “Aquaman’s” tone is not a reaction to critics disliking Snyder’s movies. There have been rumors claiming Warner Bros. has been making a concentrated effort to make its DCEU films more fun in the face of bad reviews, but Emmerich credits “Aquaman’s” light tone to Wan and the studio allowing the director to make the movie he wanted.

“Just like how [director Patty Jenkins] brought her own sensibility to ‘Wonder Woman’ — yet it was very connected [to ‘Justice League’] — that movie was very much a Patty Jenkins movie this is very much a James Wan movie,” Emmerich said when asked if “Justice League” has changed the way Warner Bros. approaches its DCEU movies from a creative perspective.

“If you spend time with James and [Aquaman star Jason Momoa], they brought themselves to the party,” he continued. “They very instinctively were who they were when making this movie. And that comes through in the tone of this movie. I don’t think it was a reaction to what had come before. I think it was them being true to themselves.”

Emmerich said he is feeling confident about “Aquaman” being a hit with fans. The executive explained he has started turning to his young daughters to gauge interest in his projects, and both of his daughters got excited for “Aquaman” after they saw a cut of the trailer.

“I’ll tell you this: I have two girls, 10 and 14, and they’re so quick to tell me what movies are going to bomb  — my movies, other people’s movies,” Emmerich explained. “They’re shockingly right more than I would have thought. Kids are closer to the zeitgeist, everything is a raw nerve ending, they pick up on so many cultural subtleties it constantly blows my mind. I showed them the ‘Aquaman’ trailer and I’m enthused and excited that they’re so excited for ‘Aquaman.'”

Warner Bros. is set to open “Aquaman” in theaters nationwide December 21. Head over to Entertainment Weekly to read more from Emmerich’s interview.

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