ByFranco Gucci, writer at
I'm an avid movie fan whose favorite movie ever is Back to the Future. I'm the type of person that if I like a TV show, I'll binge watch it
Franco Gucci

Warner Bros. and DC made considerable progress in setting up the DC Extended Universe this year with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. The world will expand further with 2017's Justice League and with several standalone films for each of their new heroes.

One movie in particular that's been in people's minds since it was announced is Aquaman starring Jason Momoa. So far, not much has been revealed regarding the film other than its official release date of July 27, 2018 and director James Wan. Fortunately, The Wrap just changed that. It reported earlier today that the villain Aquaman will be taking on in his standalone adventure will be the fan-favorite Black Manta.

For the 70% of you who just went "Who?" (clearly against Black Manta's wishes judging from the image above), here's a breakdown for you so you can impress all your friends with all your deep Aquaman knowledge:

Who Is Black Manta?

As is usual with comic books, there isn't a definitive version of Black Manta's origins; instead, he follows Joker's philosophy of having a multiple-choice past.

First Origin

His first origin was him as a boy who played regularly in Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. During this time, he was kidnapped and was forced to work in a ship. But that's not all, as the poor boy also had to endure constant sexual and physical abuse from his captors.

One day, he saw Aquaman traveling with dolphins and signaled him for help; unfortunately, the superhero didn't see him. Ultimately, when defending himself, he grabbed a knife and killed one of his captors. After this, the boy became determined to rule the uncaring sea and destroy the man he saw as its avatar: Aquaman.

2003 Origin

His second origin reinvented him as an autistic orphan who lived in Arkham Asylum and was fascinated by seeing Aquaman on television. The Arkham attendants, not knowing how to deal with him, restrained him to his bed even though this caused him to scream and struggle.

Some time later, the boy was subjected to experimental treatments which were meant to heal him. Unfortunately, the experiments turned him into an extremely violent individual who killed the scientist in charge of him and escaped Arkham. After this, he made his signature costume and helmet that allowed him to shoot rays from the eyes, built a high-tech submersible, and gathered a powerful army. As you do.

After a first encounter he and his army had with Aquaman, Black Manta became one of the aquatic hero's main adversaries. Their confrontations went on for several years until the ruthless villain forced Aquaman into a fight to the death against Aquaman's sidekick, Aqualad, to save his infant son.

Manta ends up killing the baby, anyway, because that's what bad guys do. And the once strong bond Aquaman and Aqualad shares is broken after the boy realizes Aquaman's loyalty can shift so fast.

Aquaman cradles his dead son
Aquaman cradles his dead son

Aquaman then tracks Manta down and gives him the beating of a lifetime, almost killing him. Fortunately, the hero ultimately decides to spare him and hands him over to the authorities.

During the Brightest Day event, Aquaman comes back from the dead. Upon learning this, Manta — who had retired from villainy and was working in a fish market at that time — murders his customers and burns down his house to renew his vendetta against Aquaman (you know, just your regular freakout). He finally tracks down Aquaman, then takes advantage of Aquaman being distracted while fighting Xebel soldiers (Atlantean prisoners) and cuts off his hand.

Fortunately, the villain was subdued and later imprisoned in the Bermuda Triangle. Harsh.

New 52 Black Manta

This rebooted version of the-boy-who-would-be-Black Manta originally lived with his father as a young man on a houseboat, where he was a mercenary and a treasure hunter. Eventually, he was hired by a man named Stephen Shin to collect Arthur Curry's (Aquaman's) blood to prove Curry was an Atlantean.

Thomas Curry (Aquaman's father), tried to defend his son against Manta. Unfortunately, during the fight, he died of a heart attack. Aquaman then tracked down Black Manta to his houseboat, where he found the villain's father. Thinking Black Manta's father had murdered his own father, Arthur killed him. Because of this, Manta abandoned his career as a treasure hunter to get revenge on Aquaman.

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After a failed battle against Aquaman and his army, the Others, Black Manta is taken into custody, where he is offered a spot in the Suicide Squad by Amanda Waller. However, the villain rejects the proposition. But just to prove his crazy didn't play favorites, during the events of Forever Evil, he is released from prison by the Crime Syndicate and offered a spot on the team, but the villain is disgusted by the idea of anyone killing Aquaman but himself and rejects them, too. Manta then joins Lex Luthor and together they take down the Crime Syndicate.

After these events, Black Manta realizes he has no meaning in life without his vendetta against Aquaman, so he finally accepts the offer to join the Suicide Squad. Unsurprisingly, he betrays the Squad after some time but is subdued by Deadshot after he is shot through the wrist. He is then sent back to prison.

What Are Black Manta's Powers And Abilities?

Black Manta is quite a worthy adversary thanks mostly to his intelligence. Though the villain also possesses superhuman strength, most of his advantage comes from his gadgets. His suit comes equipped with a telepathic scrambler, a jet pack, twin blades, a trident, torpedoes and, as previously mentioned, he can fire energy beams from those oh-so-sexy, giant glowing eyes of his.

If those gadgets and abilities weren't enough to convince you he's a force to be reckoned with, he is also an expert hand-to-hand combatant and has an army at his disposal.

Fun Fact: We've Seen Him Before

Black Manta in Smallville
Black Manta in Smallville

This isn't Black Manta's first live-action appearance. In the Season 10 episode of Smallville titled "Prophecy," a meeting of villains that includes Captain Cold, Solomon Grundy, the Dark Archer and Black Manta occurs. In it, each villain is assigned a hero to kill. Spoilers: Black Manta is tasked with taking down Aquaman. His favorite.

While the character is never fully shown nor has any lines, it was a pretty cool Easter egg referencing Aquaman's future adventures.

Conclusion: Black Manta Is More Than A Worthy Adversary For Aquaman To Face In His Standalone Film

A big trend with modern superhero films is that the adversary is mostly a disposable plot device to carry the story forward and give the hero something to do. Black Manta is such a rich and captivating character that, if handled by the right people, could become our next Loki or Magneto or Wilson Fisk. With Jason Momoa's intimidating and imposing take on Aquaman, you need a villain that you believe can stand up to the hero.

Without a doubt, his skills, powers, intelligence, and intriguing backstory are more than enough to create the new fan-favorite bad guy. Hopefully after reading this, you have a better understanding of who he is — enough to cheer in the theaters if they get him right or pull your hair out if it's not a faithful portrayal.


Who's your favorite Aquaman villain?

[Source: The Wrap]


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