Aquaman may be just the beginning of Black Manta’s rise in the DCEU

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Aug 3, 2018

As the DC Extended Universe charts its course with Aquaman, its next major release ahead of Shazam! next April and Wonder Woman 1984 next fall, characters that have lain largely fallow on the big screen are beginning to see signs of life — not just in the story worlds where they’re featured, but perhaps in crossover roles that span DC franchises.

Black Manta may not end up being the main villain Arthur Curry will have to face when Aquaman does battle against his half-brother Orm to save the land-loving side of the world, but producer Peter Safran says the movie may only be a warm-up for future crossover roles for the character, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

“We certainly have every intention that Manta plays a very large role in the DC universe. He has to. He's just too great,” Safran told Cinemablend during a recently-reported Aquaman set visit from last year. “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.”

Where Black Manta (aka David Hyde) could end up is obviously anyone’s early guess, since his presence hasn’t been hinted at for any of DC’s announced movie projects. But he’s conventionally loomed large in Aquaman lore proper (it’s he, not Orm, who’s historically been portrayed as Curry’s chief nemesis in the comics), and Safran’s enthusiasm for Abdul-Mateen II’s embodiment of the role sounds like an MCU-style case of recognizing a fortuitous actor-hero pair-off (think Chris Evans as Captain America, or Anthony Mackie as Falcon, or half a dozen other pitch-perfect casting strokes in that other cinematic universe.)

Abdul-Mateen II himself said at Comic-con recently that he’s eying a bigger spotlight in the DCEU, though it’s hard to tell whether he was alluding to future projects that are still under wraps, or just being enthusiastic. 

“Well, yeah, I mean, this character, he's all over the canon,” he told Joblo when asked whether Black Manta could show up in more DC movies. “He's in Suicide Squad, we see him in the cartoons, we see him in Young Justice, we see him in... yeah, I mean, he's all over the place…if you see Aquaman in Justice League, then you know, it'll make sense for Black Manta to say, ‘Hey! What you doing?’ Pop his head in, wherever he is, he can justify making it his business. I'm looking forward to living long within the DC world, and create a little bit of chaos.”

We’re definitely down for Black Manta to bring some of his deep-sea havoc-wreaking ashore, if the opportunity does arise. But where? Let us know which franchise DC should target as the ideal crossover point for Arthur Curry’s red-eyed arch-enemy, while we wait for Aquaman's Dec. 21 release.

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