Black Manta will return in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and a popular theory is that the rivalry between the villain and Aquaman will reach a whole new level thanks to a tragic event. Inspired by the New 52 Aquaman books, the first Aquaman, which grossed over $1 billion at the box office, completed the character’s transformation from a pop culture joke into one of the world’s most famous superheroes. While Jason Momoa had already embodied Aquaman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice Leagueit is only in the Aquaman movie that Aquaman’s origins, personality, and most importantly, his relationship to villains Ocean Master and Black Manta were crafted.
Much like the New 52 Aquaman, Arthur Curry’s story in the Aquaman film revolved around the character trying to find their place between two worlds. Arthur had been aware of his true origins since childhood, and while living both on the surface and in Atlantis, he could not engage with either world. Although he once saved the world from Steppenwolf by Justice LeagueAquaman was still inexperienced and naive during the James Wan Aquaman film. Therefore, Aquaman was, in many ways, an origin story even if it wasn’t actually the start of Arthur Curry’s superhero life.
By being a kind of origin story, Aquaman was able to showcase the backstory and motivations of Ocean Master and Black Manta, both of whom can be considered Aquaman’s greatest enemies. Ocean Master, played by Patrick Wilson, was Aquamanthe main villain as the story was very inspired by the New 52 comic arc Throne of Atlantis. Orm represented the Atlantean side of Arthur’s life, and the resentful prince was the perfect antagonist for this specific part of Aquaman’s journey. That said, Black Manta, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, also played an important role in Aquaman, with a focus on setting up what could become one of the most intense rivalries in the DCEU. In Aquaman, black mantis was more of a pawn used by Ocean Master to attack Aquaman and Mera on the surface. However, as promised by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Black Manta will have a bigger role in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Based on this, a popular theory (via Reddit) recalls the themes of the fatherhood of the first Aquaman suggest that Black Manta will kill Aquaman’s father in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.
Aquaman Made Black Manta & Arthur’s Rivalry Personal
Despite the limited screen time, Black Manta had a strong presence in the first Aquaman film. It had a lot to do with Aquamanfrom the opening sequence, which served as the origin story for Black Manta. Inspired by Manta’s reimagined New 52 backstory, Aquaman began with David Kane and his father, Jesse Kane, working as pirates and encountering the urban legend known as “the Aquaman”. While in the comics Aquaman mistakenly kills Black Manta’s father, in the Aquaman film Arthur decides not to save Jesse Kane after seeing him brutally kill the submarine crew. Yet, just like in the New 52 comics, Black Manta blamed Aquaman for his father’s death and swore revenge on the superhero. In less than 20 minutes, Aquaman had already set up one of DC’s most important characters, Black Manta, and it made his relationship with Arthur Curry that much more personal.
The DCEU Can’t Adapt Black Manta’s Most Brutal Comic Book Moment
Black Manta was unable to get his wish for revenge against Aquaman, which means the villain will have even bigger plans against the DCEU hero in the sequel. AquamanThe post-credits scene teased how Manta improves his technology, and with actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II teasing a bigger role for the villain in the Aquaman sequel, audiences can expect Black Manta to achieve some kind of victory in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Given how personal the vengeance Black Manta seeks is, there is precedent in the comics for what would be an incredibly brutal moment for the DCEU. In Death of a Prince, a 1978 comic arc, Black Manta kills Aquaman’s newborn son, the Aquababy. Aquaman’s son lacked his father’s ability to breathe on the surface, which Manta used to choke the character to death. However, given the darkness and brutality of the Death of a Prince arc was, even for the comics, it’s unlikely DC will ever adapt it into a live-action movie.
Theory: Black Manta kills Aquaman’s father in Aquaman 2
While the Aquababy’s death is far too dark for a DCEU movie, the Aquaman the sequel could still have Black Manta killing someone Aquaman loves. According to the fan theory, it would be Thomas Curry, the father of Aquaman. One of the best parts of the Aquaman movie was the heartwarming relationship between Thomas and Arthur Curry, which served to humanize Aquaman and strengthen his connection to the surface world. Therefore, having Black Manta kill Aquaman’s father in Aquaman in the Lost Kingdom would serve a purpose similar to what happened in Death of a Prince — cementing the rivalry between Aquaman and Black Manta — but in a way that better befits a live-action PG-13 movie. Not only that, but given that Aquaman left Black Manta’s father to die, it would make sense for the villain to target Thomas Curry as an instrument of his revenge. Arthur spends most of the time Aquaman film trying to find his mother, which would make it even more tragic if he were to lose his father in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.
Black Manta Killing Aquaman’s Father Would Worsen DCEU Rivalry
Currently, the relationship between Aquaman and Black Manta is more one-sided, as Manta is the one with a personal grudge against Aquaman. However, if Black Manta kills Aquaman’s father, then the hero would have every reason to hate his nemesis. If that happened, the dynamic between Aquaman and Black Manta would shift from one-sided revenge to all-out rivalry. While Ocean Master has been at the center of famous recent stories like the DC animated film Justice League: Throne of Atlantis and the Aquaman movie, Black Manta has always been Aquaman’s true nemesis, yet to be established in the DCEU. Having Manta fulfill his revenge against Aquaman by killing Thomas Curry would cement the villain as Aquaman’s worst nightmare, and it would test the DCEU hero’s morals.
Granted, Aquaman chose not to save Black Manta’s father, but that doesn’t mean he would necessarily cross a line and kill Black Manta in an act of revenge. How Aquaman would handle his father’s death at the hands of Black Manta could be a very interesting arc for the character of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, especially when there has been so much debate surrounding DCEU heroes like the murder of Batman and Superman. Black Manta is one of DC’s most important antagonists, and if the character were to play a larger role in the DCEU in the future, having him as a constant reminder of Aquaman’s failures would elevate both the hero and the villain.