The role of a director is never an easy one, but it can be especially difficult on blockbuster properties like comic book movies. These kinds of films come with an extra level of scrutiny that the filmmaker must deal with on top of the pressure that already comes with creating big-budget spectacles where a lot of money is on the line. You need someone up to the task who can handle plenty of challenges to deliver a bonafide hit that moves the franchise forward. For December's DCEU film Aquaman, Warner Bros. went with James Wan. Toby Emmerich, film chairman at Warner Bros., explained why the horror director was tapped for Aquaman, saying:
He's a franchise maker and builder. I would give him credit for what became known as The Conjuring universe. He initiated the Saw franchise. And he initiated the Insidious franchise. And he built on the Fast and Furious franchise -- his film [Furious 7] was the highest grossing one. So when you think of franchise makers and franchise builders there are not many people who have that resume. That alone makes him an inspired choice. And he's also made many movies as a director and producer for us at Warner Bros. and at New Line. So we know him really well.
Like pretty much every studio, Warner Bros. is concerned with franchises, and its DC properties and the DCEU have the most potential on that front. So it is natural that Warner Bros. would want someone who has proven adept in franchise filmmaking to take on Aquaman (and hopefully carry the DCEU forward). As Toby Emmerich told Entertainment Weekly, James Wan has more than proven himself in this arena. He's not only launched franchises in his own right with Saw and The Conjuring, but he has come into an existing one with Furious 7 and worked within the established framework to deliver the most successful film in that franchise. That is quite the pedigree and shows that James Wan is well suited to coming aboard the existing DCEU and working within the boundaries of what Warner Bros. is building to create an exciting new chapter with Aquaman.
Toby Emmerich also noted that James Wan already has a working relationship with Warner Bros., so he was a known commodity to the studio when he was picked, and the studio understood what it was getting with him and how well they would work together. This might not seem like a big deal, but as we have found out in recent years, when a director and the studio aren't on the same page, it can lead to bad press and misfires on screen and at the box office.
Personally, I would have liked Toby Emmerich to mention the confidence he had in James Wan's creative vision or something along those lines as the reason for why they chose to hire the director, but the film business is a business and his reasoning is quite pragmatic. The DCEU needs a win, and hiring a proven filmmaker who the studio knows and trusts is the smart choice and (hopefully) the right one. Fortunately, James Wan isn't just a good choice because Warner Bros. wants strong franchises and James Wan can deliver in that realm. He is also a talented filmmaker. The first images from Aquaman look good and I'm confident that he can bring something special and unique to the DCEU with this film and make Aquaman a top-tier big screen superhero.