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'Aquaman' director James Wan aims to deliver a classic action-fantasy flick

The director reveals his "Aquaman" subway rehabilitation plan.

Amber Heard, left, director James Wan, Jason Momoa

Amber Heard, left, director James Wan, Jason Momoa and Willem Dafoe on the set of "Aquaman." Photo Credit: DC Comics/Jasin Boland

He's made quite a splash.

James Wan, the Malaysian-Australian creator of the gross-out horror franchise “Saw,” closes the year with the most entertaining family-friendly picture in quite some time.

Aquaman has long seemed a joke for those who don't follow comics, but after the tidal wave of appreciation for this Jason Momoa-led origin story, it's a new era for the Atlantean King.

We spoke with director Wan when he was in New York recently.

This superhero movie feels different.

That was the goal, to avoid the current style and make a more classic action-fantasy. Aquaman is less familiar of a character, but we cut as much of the origin story as possible. It takes fine tuning; nobody likes movies that are too long.

For people less familiar with the lore: Is there dry cleaning on Atlantis? How do they do their laundry?

They are so technologically advanced, it's hard to say. Maybe there is wet cleaning?

Many superhero movies open with the best scene, but “Aquaman” gets wilder as it goes.

That was a goal. I wanted to start with an action-set piece that is "normal" — the submarine fight — to work audiences into it. By the end, well, we just wanted to deliver on what we promised.

A lot of these costumes looked like real, tactile costumes, not CGI.

My background is low-budget horror. We do things practical and “in camera” as much as possible, then use digital tools after. We had an army of designers. I've long wanted to build a visual world from the nuts and bolts. It looks cool, but not comfortable to wear. Especially in the rigs that make the actors appear as if they were floating underwater.

Did you ever get into a costume as part of an esprit de corps?

Uhhhh. There is an advantage to being the director.

Is Jason Momoa ever not cool?

He's a cool dude but also goofy as hell. I realized early on to let Aquaman be Jason Momoa, as opposed to Jason Momoa being Aquaman.

James, I love your movie. It reminded me of going to see “Krull” with my Dad as a little kid.

I love “Krull”! I grew up with “Labyrinth” and “Flash Gordon” and “The Dark Crystal,” so that sense of wonderment is what I want; the reaction you and I had seeing Christopher Reeve's “Superman” for the first time.

How could Aquaman fix the subways?

Flood it. Then Aquaman can get in there brick by brick.

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