By now, if you’ve seen Aquaman (and looking at those box office returns who hasn’t) then you know that the Justice League doesn’t appear in the movie. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Wan explained why it was important for Aquaman to stand apart from the JL.
Aquaman does technically take place in the DC Extended Universe of movies but you couldn’t tell after watching the film. There is one brief mention of Arthur Curry teaming up with the Justice League to fight Steppenwolf (which they did in the 2017 movie) but other than that, there is no acknowledgement of other characters or events from the other DCEU movies.
However, this was by design according to Wan, who felt that it was very important for Aquaman to step out on his own and carry a movie by himself as a character. Wan had this to say:
“I just feel like this is his stand-alone movie, just let it be about Aquaman. I feel like all the other characters have had so many movies; audiences have known all the other characters in all the other movies, all these different projects. Let this be Aquaman’s time in the spotlight.”
Without spoiling anything big, the mid credits scene doesn’t really refer to anything else in the DCEU either. The movie doesn’t have any other end credit scene as well.
For Wan, it was important for Arthur to see Atlantis in all its glory for the first time in the same way the audience is viewing it as well. After having some discussion with Snyder, Wan admitted that it would not be a problem to do this even though Arthur does go to Atlantean ruins in Justice League. Wan had this to say:
“I was like, ‘Oh great, then I can actually have Arthur go to Atlantis for the first time.’ That’s very important for me, because he can go into it and have a wide-eyed approach to Atlantis and be in awe of it. I think that’s very important from a storytelling standpoint because the audience gets to experience Atlantis for the first time along with the character.”
“It wouldn’t be the same if Arthur goes to Atlantis and he’s been here before and he’s kind of jaded about it. There’s nothing impressing him. Then you as an audience watching would not be impressed either. It’s that Spielberg approach, right?”
Here Wan is referring to the feeling of awe the characters in Spielberg’s movie Jurassic Park felt at the same time we were seeing those dinosaurs for the first time. He added:
“Seeing a character seeing something for the first time ― like in Jurassic Park when Laura Dern sees the dinosaur for the first time. The camera is pushing in on her look of awe and wonderment. That’s how you convey it to the audience and that’s how the audience comes along with the characters.”