There are a number of questions hanging over the head of the DC Extended Universe right now; among them being, who will direct the upcoming Batman and The Flash solo movies, now that both of those DCEU projects are (until further notice) without official helmsman. Elsewhere, however, director James Wan continues to make steady progress on his own DCEU film – Aquaman, with Jason Momoa reprising his role as the film’s namesake (aka. Arthur Curry), following his debut as the DC superhero in last year’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and his upcoming turn in director Zack Snyder’s Justice League movie.
Aquaman is gering up to start filming over the next several months, with Wan having recently posted a picture that shows him meeting up with three of the movie’s central cast members; a lineup that of course includes Momoa, as well as Amber Heard and Wan’s frequent collaborator, Patrick Wilson as Aquaman’s famous love interest Mera and his half-brother, Orm (aka. Ocean Master) respectively. However, although Orm and Aquaman typically have an antagonistic relationship, the former is not the only DC supervillain in Wan’s DCEU film.
THR is reporting that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (The Get Down) has entered early talks to costar in Aquaman as Black Manta, a DC villain who has been rumored to appear in the movie for some time now. Wan is reported to have spoken with a number of actors about the role before settling on Abdul-Mateen as his top choice to play the character. THR also says that an official offer to Adbul-Mateen has been made now, with the implication being that a deal ought to be finalized soon (the same hope for Nicole Kidman signing on as Aquaman’s mother).
The Black Manta character has been strongly rumored to appear in Aquaman since the summer of 2016. However, Wan has long been careful to downplay those same rumors – without outright denying that there is any truth to them, at the same time. Nevertheless, Abdul-Mateen is an unexpected candidate to secure the role in the DCEU; what with such well-established and acclaimed actors as Michael K. Williams and Michael Jai White having thrown their name in the ring as contenders to play Black Manta, at different points in time.
For those less familiar, Black Manta has been around in the world of DC Comics since the late 1960s and typically is presented with a more sympathetic backstory. For example, in the New 52 run of DC Comics, the character was the son of a man that Aquaman had killed, leading him to seek vengeance against Arthur Curry upon gaining superpowers and metahuman abilities of his own. More recently, as part of the DC Rebirth comics run, the character of Kaldur’ahm a.k.a. Jackson Hyde a.k.a. Aqualad – Black Manta’s son – was worked into the proceedings, with Black Manta himself having such super-powers as extreme strength and endurance but also a ferocious temperament (as the result of the serum that he used to cure his autism).
Abdul-Mateen, for his own part, has earned critical acclaim for his role as Cadillac on The Get Down Netflix series and has already landed roles in such upcoming films as the Baywatch movie reboot (anchored by Dwayne Johnson) and the Hugh Jackman-starring film musical, The Greatest Showman, in addition to his (now, all-but-confirmed) role in Aquaman. Seeing as Ocean Master is also a part of Wan’s DCEU film, it’s plausible that the former will serve as the movie’s primary antagonist – with Black Manta being introduced and set-up to become the main villain in a future Aquaman big screen adventure, instead. If so, then the future will start looking even brighter for Abdul-Mateen than it already does.