We finally know what Black Manta will look like in Aquaman - or at least what he'll look at the start of his journey. Although he can be considered Aquaman's archnemesis in the comics, Black Manta won't be the main villain of Aquaman. Instead that position will go to Arthur Curry's half-brother, Orm, who is being played by Patrick Wilson.
However, it seems like Black Manta will play a significant role in Aquaman's first solo outing in the DCEU. The Get Down's Yahya Abdul-Mateen II will play Black Manta and his alter ego David Kane (the movie is changing Manta's surname from the comics) in the character's DCEU's debut. From the looks of his costume, it appears like Aquaman will function as a bit of an origin story for Black Manta, hopefully leading to more appearances from the iconic character in the cinematic universe.
The first look at Black Manta in Aquaman comes from EW's cover story on the December 2018 movie. In the sneak peek still, which can be viewed below, David Kane is in some sort of lab, standing in front of a prototype of Black Manta's classic helmet. The helm is a work-in-progress but still is very recognizable (and comic accurate) to Black Manta's eventual look.
Just like any comic character, Black Manta has been through a few origin stories and rewritten motivations. Usually, though, David Hyde (as he is named in the comics) is an undersea treasure hunter/bounty hunter who runs afoul of the King of Atlantis, Aquaman. Throughout their long history, Black Manta has done a number of terrible things to Aquaman, including murdering Aquaman's own son.
However, Black Manta has no powers of his own. Unlike Arthur Curry, Black Manta isn't even half an Atlantean. Instead, David uses his Black Manta suit (and his high level of intellect) to stand up against forces much more powerful than himself.
It's unclear how closely the DCEU will stick to that story for Black Manta. The DC's movies have been known to change things from the comics frequently. Yet this promotional photo does suggest that Aquaman will keep Black Manta's skills as a technician and engineer in tact. David Kane appears to be creating his Black Manta suit entirely on his own and he's particularly interested in the helmet and its glowing red eyes.
This makes sense as Black Manta's glowing visor is the source of one his most impressive powers. Using the technology at his disposal, Black Manta shoots red plasma blasts from his "eyes." Taking in the entirety of the picture, it appears that making the plasma blast function is what David Kane seems to be focusing on in the movie. It looks as if the helm is attached to some kind of red power source through jumper cables, maybe to charge or activate the plasma blast.
Obviously Aquaman is hoping that there won't be just one movie in the series. Like Wonder Woman, Aquaman is aiming for big box office success and one sequel, minimum. They might just get it too as Jason Momoa's Aquaman was very well received in Justice League. However, a part of those sequel plans appears to be building up Black Manta as a real threat. This is the correct road to take. If Aquaman is going to build a franchise, Black Manta needs to be integral part of it. At the very least, Black Manta deserves the mainstream recognition as one of DC's best villains that he's long been denied.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020