Recently it was announced that the Big Bad for the Aquaman movie is going to be his arch nemesis, Black Manta. While no solid details have been revealed about who James Wan has chosen to go toe-to-toe with Jason Momoa, it’s going to be one heck of a big helmet to fill, especially since the lead is not going to be an easy man to intimidate.
For those of you who don’t know, Black Manta has been causing problems for the King of Atlantis since the late '60s (though he might be better known from his role on the cult classic cartoon, Young Justice). While the character has been reimagined a few times, most recently in the New 52, he has always been a character obsessed with defeating Aquaman, using technology to even the playing field between himself and the Atlantean. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Black Manta isn’t a force to be reckoned with on his own.
Not much is known about what Wan’s vision for that character in the film is, but he has to be able to portray evil, convince audiences that he’s a threat to the guy who played Khal Drogo, and he has to be black. Now, normally the first person I would think of to fill the role would be Idris Elba, but I’m personally hoping to see him in Green Lantern and it feels like he’s the go-to black actor nowadays. So, here are five actors I believe could do Black Manta justice.
5. Taye Diggs
Diggs might seem like an unconventional choice for the role. He’s best known for his work in musicals and as a love interests, but it’s his performance in Equilibrium that makes me really want to see him as a villain again. It’s his charm and charisma that I think will really help convey the almost restrained arrogance that Black Manta posses. After all, this is a character that looks to kill a king and anyone with such lofty aspirations needs to have the fortitude to back it up. The only downside is that he would be dwarfed by the massive Momoa and might be a little too charming for audiences to hate him.
4. Isaiah Mustafa
A few years ago Mustafa was gunning for the role of Luke Cage, which eventually went to Mike Colter. Black Manta would be one hell of a role for Mustafa, especially because he has such an incredible voice and Manta spends most of his time with an oversized helmet on his head. The best part is that at 6’3” he would be able to look Momoa dead in the eyes. The only downside is that people might not be able to get over him being the Old Spice guy. Then again, it would be pretty crazy to see a villainous version of the Old Spice guy. Heck, I’d pay the price of admission just for that.
3. Boris Kodjoe
Perhaps best known for the character Luthor in the Resident Evil films, Boris is actually a German actor with a wide variety of roles over the years from film and television. His range has proven that he has the chops to take on Black Manta, and he certainly has the action experience to pull it off. Besides, like Isaiah Mustafa, he has the height to stand tall against Aquaman. Best of all though, there is a stern seriousness to Kodjoe that we don’t really see with the last two entries. However, Kodjoe is wrapped up with a television series currently, which might make scheduling difficult.
2. Michael Jai White
White is no stranger to superhero movies (he previously played Spawn), and with good reason: He’s practically a superhero himself. White is famous for his martial arts skills and boasts a whopping seven black belts in various styles (as well as actual championships), so you know he has the skills to throw down with Aquaman. Not only is he a fighter, but White has decades of acting experience under his belt. White would probably be my No. 1 pick if he hadn’t already played the DC villain Bronze Tiger on Arrow. Then again, with Ezra Miller as the Flash it’s pretty clear the cinematic and television universes are separated.
1. D.B. Woodside
Woodside’s performance in Lucifer is what convinced me to put him in the No. 1 slot for this list. While he’s had a number of television roles in the past, it’s his calm, superior attitude masking spiteful anger that has me convinced he could do the character justice. I could easily see Woodside always being one step ahead of Mamoa and relishing it as Aquaman struggles to save his kingdom. Besides, as with the other contenders on this list, he’s got the build to convince audiences that he could keep Momoa on the ropes. Of all the actors on this list, Woodside has proven that he’s the best at being bad.
Get a look at Aquaman and the rest of the JL in the Justice League trailer breakdown video below:
So, these are my picks for Black Manta in the DCEU, but I want to know what you think. Leave your pick in the comments below!