Warner Bros. Wanted LotR Director to Helm Aquaman, But Got Rejected Twice

Warner Bros. Wanted LotR Director to Helm Aquaman, But Got Rejected Twice
Image credit: Legion-Media, Warner Bros. Pictures

The studio wanted none other than Peter Jackson to direct the superhero's first solo film, but he had his reasons for declining the offer.


  • Aquaman remains the highest-grossing DCU film, surpassing even Batman v Superman
  • While not groundbreaking, it was a simple and fun superhero movie that audiences liked
  • However, it could have been very different if only an iconic director had agreed to helm the project

Despite the fact that it doesn't revolve around one of DC Comics' most famous characters like Superman or Batman, 2018's Aquaman remains the most successful DCU film to date.

Earning $1,143,758,700 worldwide, it miraculously managed to beat out even such a behemoth as 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which was relegated to second place with $872,395,091.

Though it wasn't particularly groundbreaking, with critics giving Aquaman moderately positive reviews, the fan reception was much warmer as director James Wan delivered a simple but fun superhero movie with some visually captivating underwater locations and action scenes.

Who Was Originally Considered To Direct Aquaman?

Warner Bros. Wanted LotR Director to Helm Aquaman, But Got Rejected Twice - image 1

While James Wan was already a fairly well-known filmmaker at the time, having helmed Saw (2004), The Conjuring (2013), and the first two Insidious films, Warner Bros. initially had much bigger ambitions and wanted a truly legendary director to handle the film.

In an interview with Empire, Peter Jackson, who gave us the brilliant The Lord of the Rings trilogy, mentioned that he was approached with an offer to direct the Aquaman movie not once, but twice.

Then-Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara asked the filmmaker if he was a fan of the aquatic superhero, only for Jackson to reply that he wasn't and that he wasn't interested in joining the project.

Oddly enough, just half a year later, the same situation happened again, with Tsujihara asking him the exact same question, to which Jackson pointed out that they'd had this conversation before and that his decision hadn't changed.

Jackson’s Reason For Declining Aquaman Also Applies to Other Projects

Warner Bros. Wanted LotR Director to Helm Aquaman, But Got Rejected Twice - image 2

The director mentioned that the reason behind his reluctance to make Aquaman was that superheroes are simply not his thing, and that he is only willing to join a particular project if he has a "deep passion" for it.

It's also the reason why Jackson has taken a break from directing movies in recent years, with his last project being 2014's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and has instead dedicated himself to making documentaries, at least for now.

Given that the interview took place in 2019, and that the filmmaker said he didn't "really anticipate making another theatrical film for a year or two," it seems that now, four years later, he's decided to extend his "vacation."

Considering the magnitude of his previous work, Aquaman could have been an absolutely stunning movie if only Jackson had agreed to do the job.

Fans can only imagine how much more epic the film's already impressive, large-scale final battle could have been, but perhaps it is for the best.

After all, passion is extremely important, and we have seen many examples of big name directors being attached to projects they never really cared about, only to produce mediocre movies at best.

Besides, as mentioned above, James Wan didn't end up disappointing audiences at all, creating a pretty decent movie that looks even better compared to the later DCU flops that ultimately buried the franchise.

The filmmaker returned to direct a sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, scheduled for release on December 22, 2023, which will be the final chapter of the "old" DCU before it is rebooted under James Gunn.

Unfortunately, given the dire state of the franchise and superhero movies in general, there is little hope that it will be a success, even if it manages to maintain the level of quality of its predecessor.

Do you think Peter Jackson would have been a good choice to direct Aquaman?

Source: Empire