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How Working On Aquaman Reminds Willem Dafoe Of Working On Spider-Man

Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn in Spider-Man

Willem Dafoe left a memorable impact on the superhero movie genre in 2002 when he portrayed Norman Osborn, a.k.a. the Green Goblin, in the first Spider-Man movie, but now he's made the jump from Marvel to DC to play Nudis Vulko in the DC Extended Universe. Dafoe's Vulko will debut later this year in Justice League, and over the last few months, the actor has been reprising the Atlantean advisor in Aquaman under the direction of James Wan. Spider-Man and Aquaman are two very different kinds of superhero movies, but Dafoe has noticed during his time on the latter that Wan has been able to make the movie feel very personal, just like Sam Raimi was able to do with Spider-Man. Dafoe explained:

I think I may have even signed on before James Wan was on board, but he's great. I agree, his enthusiasm is fantastic. In fact, his enthusiasm reminds me, very much, of Sam Raimi's enthusiasm, to make a connection there. When I made Spider-Man with Sam Raimi, one of the most impressive things was that it didn't feel like an industry film. It felt like a personal film. It felt like Sam Raimi was getting to fulfill a fantasy of his. He was so connected to that Spider-Man mythology that he really infused it with great love and great playfulness, and I love that. James Wan is very similar.

Aquaman has been filming in Australia since May, and as Willem Dafoe made clear to Collider in the above comment, he's had a blast working with James Wan. Dafoe isn't the first actor to make the jump from one comic book movie universe to another, and he's fortunate that he's had such a great time participating in a DC production as he did while on a Marvel one. But Dafoe's praise for Wan didn't end with the comparisons to Sam Raimi on Spider-Man. He continued:

The other thing about James Wan that's so impressive, and I think you can see it in his movies, is that he's very precise. He really knows exactly what he wants, which is particularly a great asset when you're making a movie that's so technologically complicated. He can be very clear, and it's fun to play the game of having him give you an ask and trying to satisfy that ask. He gives you some things to play with and a good story.

Rather than antagonize Aquaman like he did as Norman Osborn in Spider-Man, Willem Dafoe will instead contribute to the King of the Seven Seas' solo movie as an ally (though that may be subject to change, depending on how much they take from Vulko's history from the comics). Dafoe is certainly on the money when he says that Aquaman is technologically complicated, but with James Wan leading the charge, the process of making a superhero blockbuster has been a fun experience for him rather than a frustrating one, just like Spider-Man was all those years ago.

Aquaman swims into theaters on December 21, 2018, but you can meet Willem Dafoe's Vulko when Justice League is released on November 17.

Adam Holmes
Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.