Today came word that The Flash film lost its director when novelist and screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith departed over the good, old “creative differences.” A floodgate of reports debated what exactly the creative differences were. Devin Faraci of Birth.Movies.Death went the furthest, saying it’s a sign of behind-the-scenes turmoil and that Aquaman director James Wan may join Grahame-Smith, Michelle MacLaren and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as directors who have walked from DC properties.
While there was no word on what creative differences may have driven Grahame-Smith from the project, Faraci said the whole process has made Wan uneasy about adapting the king of Atlantis, played by Jason Momoa. With the success of Furious 7 behind him and The Conjuring 2 generating huge buzz out of CinemaCon, getting Wan to sign up is a huge coup for the studio, as it was for Sony when he signed onto Robotech around the same period as Aquaman. At the time, the plan was for Wan to shoot former first with the latter as a follow-up, but with Sony bereft of major franchise plays, its logo reveal at CinemaCon may be prescient for a film that wasn’t expected until 2019 at the earliest.
Wan has dutifully talked up Aquaman but it’s also a huge risk for him; not only would Wan have to redeem the character from butt monkey-to-badass status, but perhaps redeem the entire DCEU too, if its critical and commercial prospects don’t improve.
According to Faraci’s sources, the divisive critical and fan reaction to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice shocked director Zack Snyder and D.C. head honcho Geoff Johns (God know’s how). It also spooked Warner Bros., who were nonetheless locked into producing part one of Justice League a mere two weeks after BvS premiered. Given the situation, the last month has been fairly predictable – enormous pressure yielding to fights between Snyder and studio executives over the creative direction of JL and the DCEU proper.
At this point, all that seems clear is that the plan at Warner Bros. for the DCEU remains frustratingly in flux.