Aquaman is like a 'classic Shakespearean story,' says director James Wan

Director James Wan has channeled a little Billy Shakes for the upcoming Aquaman movie. 

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly during CinemaCon in Las Vegas, James Wan revealed that Aquaman features the same type of tension found in William Shakespeare's works, particularly when it comes to sibling rivalry. The filmmaker explained that the film feels like a "classic Shakespearean story" set against a fantastical underwater backdrop as it focuses on Jason Momoa's Aquaman (otherwise known as Arthur Curry) and Patrick Wilson's Orm, Aquaman's villainous half-brother who uses the moniker "Ocean Master."

"The main antagonist in this movie is Orm, played by Patrick Wilson. And Black Manta, played by Yahya [Abdul-Mateen], is caught up in that world with them as well," Wan stated. "But the main drive really is, it's almost a very classic Shakespearean story about brother from another world versus brother from another world. And it really is a classic story of sibling rivalry."

The director continued, adding that Aquaman will shy away from typical superhero movie fare and stand in a league of its own because of where the film's central danger originates: right here on Earth, just beneath the surface of the sea.

"We're used to superhero movies where the threat is from another dimension or aliens from another universe coming here and trying to destroy our Earth," said Wan. "But we haven't seen one where the main threat is from a massive, massive civilization that is right under our nose, in the ocean … The idea that there could be a massive civilization living right underneath [us] that we don't know about is kind of scary and exciting."

CinemaCon attendees got a taste of the Shakespearean sibling rivalry seen in Aquaman when studio Warner Bros.' unveiled the first-ever footage from the film during its film slate presentation. The clip, which Wan clarified isn't an official teaser trailer, featured Aquaman and Mera (Amber Heard) traveling in a high-tech vehicle to the aquatic kingdom of Atlantis and the silvery-blond-haired Orm bellowing, "My brother has come from the surface to challenge me for the throne."

Aquaman shoots back stinging one-liners that prove his strength, including, "I've learned from a young age not to show weakness, solving my problems with my fists. I'm a blunt instrument, and I'm good at it." The footage closed on an intense fight, with Orm warning, "War is coming to the surface, and I'm bringing the wrath of the Seven Seas with me."

Honestly, we're just glad the Shakespearean aspect of Aquaman is in reference to a brother-versus-brother battle and not a tragic love story a la Romeo and Juliet. We're not sure if we could handle more darkness in the DC Extended Universe.

Aquaman will make a splash in theaters on December 21.