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After viewing Aquaman's sequence in "The Trench," I now have complete faith that Master of Horror James Wan can and should make a horror-themed superhero adventure. With that said, Warner Bros. needs to capitalize on its current working relationship with the director and find a way to get him on board with adapting one of DC's existing horror stories to the big screen. In no particular order, here are some adventures that would be great to learn James Wan is adapting.
The Brave And The Bold: "Night Gods"
If keeping James Wan in the DC family means keeping him tied to Aquaman, we're lucky the hero has already had a couple of horror-themed adventures in DC Comics. We already got a taste of "The Trench," which was first introduced in Geoff Johns' New 52 storyline named after the twisted creatures. It wasn't the first time a freaky undersea army was discovered, however, as Aquaman once waged war with the undead underwater.
With the help of Etrigan The Demon, Aquaman went down into the ocean's depths and discovered an army of undead people waiting to mess up the world. They also discovered a Cthulhu-like Red Octopus monster that would make for quite an impressive sight to see on screen. Aquaman's Karathen showed Warner Bros. isn't afraid to bring kaiju sized monsters into the franchise, and this creature would be a perfect opportunity for it to do so.
Granted, an Aquaman adventure that doesn't involve most of the main cast may not be the best follow up for Aquaman 2, but there are certainly horror elements in this adventure that could be used in an adaptation that makes a more serviceable sequel. James Wan did a solid job with Aquaman in the character's first standalone adventure, so adapting this story feels like a way to continue to improve upon the character using a genre Wan has mastered.
Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth
James Wan has already expressed he's interested in directing a Batman feature, albeit with a bit of a twist. His idea was to make the hero scarier, and while his concept is good, it could be a tough sell to a mainstream audience. That said, there is an acclaimed horror Batman comic adventure that could make for a great movie, and give Wan a chance to direct The Dark Knight.
Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth puts Batman alongside his most fearsome enemies in the heart of Arkham Asylum. What initially starts as a standard rescue of innocent people slowly becomes Batman examining the horrors of Arkham Asylum and how the facility has further twisted some of the villains he's condemned to live there. Lots of iconic villains make an appearance in this tale, with The Joker more or less headlining the mayhem that ensues.
An Arkham Asylum with Batman's deadliest foes running amuck feels like the perfect playground for James Wan. His ability to create tension, especially in confined spaces, is unparalleled and could create some crazy scary moments. Plus, this adventure literally drives Batman to the brink of insanity, so one would imagine Wan would have a green light to push the envelope. Such a movie seems unlikely, but with superhero features trying all sorts of ways to innovate lately, who's to say?
One of DC Comics' most iconic stories, Blackest Night tells the tale of the Black Lanterns and their battle against the Lantern Corps and others in the DC universe. Various dead superheroes come back from the dead, and take on living heroes thanks to the help of the Black power rings. The event was certainly an entertaining time in DC Comics, but could it possibly be adapted into a big-screen adaptation?
I think so, although there's no way this could happen in the near future. There would obviously have to be some build towards an event of that magnitude, and the DCEU would need some dead characters to bring back as Black Lanterns. That may be a tall order, but if the in-development Green Lantern Corps film is a hit, all it would take is an Avengers: Infinity War sized DC adventure to get the ball rolling.
It would certainly be worth it, as a mega-showdown between DC's heroes both living and dead could be a feature for the ages if done correctly. Take that, plus James Wan's visuals from films like Insidious , and that's a dream film if ever there was one. It's also a pipe dream, considering the sequence of events it would take to pull together, but well worth the effort if Warner Bros. could pull it off.
Swamp Thing Annual: Volume 2
DC Universe has already locked down James Wan as an executive producer for the Swamp Thing series. That means the seed is already planted to bring him on for a Swamp Thing feature film, provided that's something Warner Bros. is looking to pursue. If that's a possibility, it would be a travesty not to have the director tackle the events of Swamp Thing Annual: Volume 2.
In this adventure, Swamp Thing must journey into the depths of hell to save the soul of the love of his life, Abby Arcane. Swamp Thing sees a bunch of disturbing things, and also brushes shoulders with notable DC characters like Deadman, The Phantom Stranger, and Etrigan The Demon. Obviously, Swamp Thing gets the job done, but the events of his journey through hell feature some imagery he won't soon forget.
With all those cameos, an adaptation of this Swamp Thing adventure would be a great way to introduce some key members of Justice League Dark. Ironically, this underworld adventure could also serve as a vehicle to get that project out of development hell. Of course, James Wan may not be willing to diminish the importance of the Swamp Thing series, given his involvement, so maybe Warner Bros. could cross its cast over for a big screen feature to incentivize him?
Hellblazer: "Son Of Man"
John Constantine has already gotten a big screen adaptation, and he's currently a presence on DC's Legends of Tomorrow. That may lessen the likelihood he gets a new iteration of his character, but DC is somewhat unconcerned about putting multiple versions of characters out there, especially when it comes to films. With James Wan dabbling in the concept of the afterlife in his films and demonic possession, "Son Of Man" feels like the perfect adventure.
In "Son Of Man" John is taken in by some mafiosos who demand he resurrect the dead son of a mob boss. John obliges, but when he's unable to put the boy's soul back in the child's body, he decides to instead put in a demon in order to save his own skin. The demon plays along and things seem to work out for John, up until that demonic child comes back to haunt him 15 years later.
This adventure has the potential for James Wan to highlight the mixture of action and horror that he juggled with Aquaman. Obviously, there's going to be a bit more horror when dealing with a literal demon from hell, but that's fine because Wan showed he's still capable of scaring an audience without making the hero a blubbering mess as well. That would be needed in the case of John Constantine, who tends to treat these encounters like an average day.