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As part of DC’s building of their own cinematic universe, we’ve had a good look at the film version of Aquaman for some time. He even has his own tagline, "Unite the Seven." All this time we assumed it was a reference to the seven seas. It now appears it may be referring to the number of screenplays the standalone movie is going to have before it’s all said and done. The movie already had two separate writers working on two separate screenplays. Now, Warners Brothers has hired David Leslie Johnson, potentially to work on another one.
About a year ago, it was reported that Warner had hired two writers, Will Beall and Kurt Johnstad, to work on screenplays for an Aquaman stand alone film. However, the trick of it was the two were working on separate screenplays and the plan was that the studio would pick whichever one they liked better. Now The Hollywood Reporter says that the James Wan-helmed film has picked up Johnson as well, although exactly where he fits in is not clear. One source says that Johnson will be working on a third script for the film, while others are claiming he’ll be working to "streamline" instead.
If he’s coming in to write a third script, that’s probably a very bad sign. If both Beall and Johnstad have turned in scripts, and the studio doesn’t like either of them enough to pick one, then we either have a very picky studio, or two inadequate scripts. Even if neither of them have completed anything, adding a third option is not exactly a vote of confidence in either of them. While Aquaman is probably one of the more difficult of DC’s heroes to make a feature around, he’s got something of a reputation for being mostly useless. If they’re on their third script don’t be surprised if this isn’t the last one. If the studio isn’t satisfied now, they may never be.
The other possibility, that David Leslie Johnson is in to streamline the project (while vague in exactly what it means), appears more likely. Johnson’s most recent writing credit is for doing rewrites to the script for The Conjuring 2, the film James Wan is currently directing. If Wan liked whatever changes Johnson made to one script it’s not even a stretch to believe that Wan may have suggested Johnson do the same for Aquaman. WB may have handed him whichever script they’ve chosen, if not both, to polish up into something resembling a final draft.
Hopefully Johnson is just on board for rewrites, which is a fairly standard practice in Hollywood, and we’re not getting ready for an endless parade of screenplays. Aquaman is the lord of the oceans, but he can likely be drowned in a sea of paper.