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Everything To Know About ‘Black Manta,’ Aquaman’s Nemesis

Black Manta is Aquaman's greatest nemesis in the upcoming "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom." Black Manta shoots a red laser.

A Rundown of the Black Manta, the Archnemesis of Comic Hero Aquaman

In the upcoming DC film Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Black Manta is promoted to the main villain. While he did receive a proper introduction in Aquaman, many fans still wish to know more about his character. Here is a guide to the history, character, and powers of Black Manta from DC Comics.

The History and Powers of Black Manta 

Black Manta is one of the classic DC villains, having made his introduction in 1967. Much like the Joker, Black Manta started as a minor villain before his popularity brought him to the status of Aquaman’s archnemesis. Throughout all of his appearances, the Black Manta has been an undersea crook who frequently battles Aquaman. He is mostly known for wearing an iconic black suit with two giant eyes that fire lasers. Since then, there have been few Aquaman comics and films that did not feature this rival. In addition to this, Black Manta is notable as he is one of the first major black supervillains within DC. 

Given how long Black Manta has been on DC’s roster, he has received many different origin stories over the years. The first one given was decades after his introduction in 1993, with him as an abused crewmember of a boat who grew to despise Aquaman. Afterward, the backstory given in the 2000s was explained to him as a child experimented on by Arkham Asylum, who became a dangerous criminal. The most recent backstory, New 52, featured him as a criminal treasure hunter who began a blood feud with Aquaman after the latter killed his father. 

As the rival to Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Black Manta is naturally an aquatic villain in terms of his combat abilities. As such, his arsenal includes harpoons, tridents, propulsion units, and torpedoes. Given his background as a pirate, this has also led to him being a formidable seafarer and captain of his crew. Despite not having superpowers himself, he is both an engineer and an elite mercenary with an arsenal of tools rivaling even the caped crusader. Naturally, as the Black Manta, he uses a manta-themed submarine to traverse the ocean, which itself has an arsenal befitting its owner.

Depictions Over the Years 

As Black Manta has been a member of DC’s roster for over half a century, he has made nearly as many appearances as his rival. As with all recurring comic characters, each incarnation has varied in characterization, powers, and backstory, yet his role as a high-tech rival to Aquaman has always remained. His first appearance outside of the comics was in the animated series The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure in 1968, and he appeared in several other DC animated shows from the era, such as the All-New Super Friends Hour.

The Black Manta is Aquaman's arch-nemesis in the upcoming "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom." The Black Manta is walking in water.

Most of his appearances outside of the comics have been in the DC animated shows. Whenever our heroes went underwater, they were certainly going to run into him. 

His major animated appearances as a villain include Justice League Unlimited and Young Justice. In the former, he was in league with fellow supervillain Gorilla Grodd’s Secret Society, while in the latter, he was a member of the Suicide Squad. While he has as many actors as portrayals, the two actors who most commonly voiced him over the years were DC veterans Kevin Michael Richardson and Khary Payton.

Prior to the Aquaman films, the only other live-action appearance from Black Manta was a very small cameo on the series Smallville in the episode “Prophecy” as a member of the villainous group Marionette Ventures. Apart from his major portrayals, Black Manta has also made appearances and cameos in many other non-canonical works, parodies, and crossovers. A few examples include Fortnite, The Lego DC video games, Lego Dimensions, Harley Quinn, Teen Titans Go!, and the Injustice fighting games. 

The DC Extended Universe Black Manta  

Naturally, Black Manta is a major player in both Aquaman and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom for the DC Extended Universe. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II plays the current iteration of Black Manta, now named David Kane. The actor has previously portrayed the revived Morpheus in The Matrix: Resurrections and Will Sharp in Ambulance. This incarnation takes from the New 52 origin story from the comics, with him starting as a ruthless pirate seeking to avenge his father. Even after gaining his iconic suit and powerful Atlantean technology from Orm, he is still defeated by Aquaman. However, he is rescued by a scientist and swears revenge. 

Returning to Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Black Manta now seeks to destroy Atlantis and has been promoted to the main villain. In this film, he uses a relic known as the “Black Trident,” a tool never used before in the comics. This film-original relic gives him access to dark magic and power over the undead, in addition to carrying a heavy sense of dread from all in the film. This is especially shocking given that Black Manta built his reputation as being a formidable foe without any real superpowers.

While many fans are excited about the upcoming continuation of the Aquaman saga, this film will also be released in the middle of the reboot of the DC Extended Universe into the DC Universe run by James Gunn. Seeing as this will overturn most of the status quo of the series, it is unknown what will become of Black Manta, in addition to not knowing if he will survive this film. 

Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom will be released in theaters on December 22.

The Black Manta is Aquaman's arch-nemesis in the upcoming "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom." Black Manta without his helmet.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023) Official DC Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Elke Simmons' writing portfolio includes contributions to The Laredo Morning Times, Walt Disney World Eyes and Ears, Extinction Rebellion (XR) News/Blog, and Dead Talk News.