Recently, Aquaman star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II talked about his hopes to play Black Manta again in many more DC movies to come, pointing out that the supervillain has lots of crossover potential thanks to his versatility in the comics (he’s a common foe for the Justice League, he’s been a member of the Suicide Squad, etc). This is surely something fans would get behind, too, as Manta’s one of the most iconic rogues in DC’s roster.
Thankfully, then, Aquaman producer Peter Safran has confirmed that there are indeed plans for the character to play “a very large role” in the future of the Worlds of DC franchise. Safran seems excited about the huge potential for Arthur Curry’s enemy and, in particular, is over the moon about the casting of Abdul-Mateen.
“We certainly have every intention that Manta plays a very large role in the DC universe. He has to. He’s just too great. And we give him his origin story in this movie. We do show how Manta, that we see in the comic books, became that character. And we’re so fortunate to have this guy, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, to play him. I don’t know if you guys saw The Get Down on Netflix, this guy Yahya is just extraordinary, and he came in and he auditioned and we met with him and it was just a slam dunk.”
So, what role will Black Manta play in Aquaman, which marks his cinematic debut? Well, Safran explained that it’s always been the plan to tell David Hyde’s origin story in the movie, though he admitted that he’s very much the secondary antagonist of the piece, with Patrick Wilson’s Orm taking the central villain role. That said, the producer promised that Manta’s still an integral part of the overall story.
“We love Manta. From the early days of developing the screenplay he’s just such a great antagonist and he’s such a fan favorite, and the response every time people hear that he’s in the movie or that it’s confirmed that he’s in the movie they’re thrilled about it. So we always wanted to give him his storyline, and if Orm is the primary antagonist, then Manta is certainly is a very strong secondary antagonist. There is a connection between Orm and Manta that will be revealed that helps make him a more integral part of the story.”
Safran’s comments here are encouraging, and a little surprising, as we were previously led to believe that the big plans Warner Bros. had for the Legion of Doom – of which Black Manta was expected to become a member – had been pushed aside, leaving his future in the franchise unclear. At the very least, then, it sounds like the villain will return in a potential sequel to James Wan’s blockbuster.
Either way, Manta arrives from the depths when Aquaman sails into theaters on December 21st.