Jeff Nichols will not be directing Aquaman

Is this even true???


Jeff Nichols makes his first foray into sci-fi with this month’s Midnight Special before returning to more grounded drama with Loving. Ord way got out that Nichols was in talks with Warner Bros. to direct Aquaman starring Jason Momoa back during the Sony hack and you may recall a brief period when it looked like the director might go the superhero movie route.

But the job went to director James Wan who directed Furious 7 which is a fine pick if a less surprising one. Nichols was an intriguing enough choice that we couldn’t help wondering why his Aquaman didn’t pan out still and he’s finally gone on the record to explain why.

The Screen Crush got the inside story on the Jeff Nichols Aquaman movie that never was during a junket interview for Midnight Special and Nichols basically just wasn’t comfortable diving into the already-established DC Extended Universe.

He said that the trick with ‘Midnight Special’ is it gave him a lot of control over the process even though it was made at the studio of Warner Bros.he explained that he don’t just mean control over final cut but it felt like they were making one of his movies. His exact words were: ‘I had my family there. My crew. We made the movie we all wanted to make. With the DC universe, so many parts of it had been activated and so many decisions had already been made that it felt more and more — and Warner Bros. agreed — that it was me trying to jump on a moving train. That’s not so much what I’m good at. I’m more of a ground up kinda guy.’


It was not the first time that we have heard the comment of Nichols. A similar explanation was given by Ava DuVernay when she turned down Black Panther. Michelle MacLaren dropped out of Wonder Woman over creative differences if we talk closer to home. Some directors also found it difficult to handle the demands of a franchise film. One was Joss Whedon who has been has been pretty vocal about the many compromises it took to get Avengers: Age of Ultron made.

It is true that some directors have managed to put their stamp on these films. Iron Man 3 feels very much like a Shane Black movie and James Gunn seems perfectly happy with the way Guardians of the Galaxy turned out. There are real constraints for filmmakers working within these gigantic established franchises and it’s understandable if not everyone is interested in working within those limits.

Nichols digs the connected universe of the DCEU and admits he’s not really interested in taking on a DC character. According to Tom, ‘it’s all a connected universe and it should be. He was a huge comic book nerd, so he knows all these characters and they all need to be beautifully webbed together. He was just far enough on the outside that I could develop things in a vacuum all day long but it wasn’t going to line up with everything they had planned’.