After Suicide Squad’s solid performance at the box office, the DC Extended Universe is getting back on track just in time for Wonder Woman’s release next year. Diana Prince’s watery Justice League cohort’s solo shot may still be couple of years off, but Aquaman will start filming next summer in Australia. Even though the film is a long ways off, several major roles have already been cast, including Mera (Amber Heard) and Nuidis Vulko (Willem Dafoe). In addition, rumors that Black Manta will be Aquaman’s primary antagonist have run rampant, as well as speculation about who will play him.
After reports about the super villain’s role leaked, actor Michael K. Williams (Ghostbusters) hit up Twitter, expressing his interest in the part. While his enthusiasm was infections, reports of his casting have apparently been misrepresented.
It seems that several news outlets misread the casting rumors as fact and prematurely confirmed Williams’ role in the upcoming super-fish tale. News of the casting, however, seems to have slipped by the one person who ought to know all about Aquaman, James Wan. In response to the false start, the director headed onto Twitter to deny the rumors (via Heroic Hollywood). He stated:
Nah, not real. https://t.co/pvqy1b3CnG— James Wan (@creepypuppet) September 5, 2016
Agree. He's a terrific actor. https://t.co/nF0cco4mCV— James Wan (@creepypuppet) September 5, 2016
Wan has neither confirmed nor denied that the spear-wielding, bulbous-headed nemesis will even play a part in the upcoming undersea adventure at this point. However, many fans are taking his non-committal stance as confirmation in and of itself that Black Manta will play a role in Aquaman, if not that of the focal foe. The only casting news fans can be absolutely sure of, though, is that Jason Momoa will portray the Atlantean hero, and that he’ll be joined by his companion Mera and his advisor/adversary Vulko.
Nonetheless, in the loose-lips-sink-scripts atmosphere of modern Hollywood, Wan’s denial may seem to serve the secrecy around the big budget project. It will undoubtedly fuel further conspiratorial speculation that, not only is Black Manta the arch in Aquaman, but Michael K. Williams will represent him on screen. This attitude is somewhat understandable, since many movie buffs are still smarting from J.J. Adams’ blatant denial of Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness. Due to the immense pressure of the Hollywood reveal, director credibility has slipped a little, at least when it comes to revealing or denying rumors about upcoming projects.
However, James Wan has been upfront about his plans for Aquaman so far. He even let fans in on some of the secrets behind production, including how they’ll be filming underwater sequences and how the characters may communicate beneath the surface. It remains to be seen whether Wan’s denial is a smoke screen, or if he’s simply brushing off more rumor mill chaff. If he’s simply clearing the up rumors, though, it’s really too bad, because the accomplished Williams would be great as Black Manta.
Suicide Squad is now playing in theaters. Wonder Woman opens in theaters on June 2, 2017, followed by Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash, The Batman solo movie, Dark Universe and Man of Steel 2 are currently without a release dates.