TheWrap’s Umberto Gonzalez has confirmed that Aquaman’s solo film in the DC Cinematic Universe will see the protector of the seas take on his most bitter archenemy, Black Manta. Over the past 50 years, Manta has evolved from campy ’60s bad guy to a bitter, violent villain on par with the ones Superman and Batman face on a regularly basis. Here’s a look at Black Manta through the decades.
Black Manta made his debut in DC Comics back in 1967. For his first act as a supervillain, he unleashed a devastating attack on Atlantis while taking Aquaman’s child hostage.
Shortly after his debut, Black Manta became a main villain on “The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure,” which helped make his ovular helmet an iconic image among DC’s pantheon of villains. Manta later appeared in other DC Cartoons in the 60s and 70s, including the “Super Friends” series.
For much of his early run, Manta’s goals and motivations weren’t fleshed out much. In the late ’70s, DC revealed Black Manta’s face beneath the helmet, at which point he declared that his grand scheme was to have black people rule the oceans. For reasons that should be obvious, this plot line was abandoned shortly thereafter.
In the ’90s, he was given a more fleshed out origin story, depicting Manta as a boy who was forced to work on a ship by an abusive crew that kidnapped him. When Aquaman did not hear his cries for help while passing by, Manta took matters into his own hands and killed the crew. From that day forth, he saw the ocean as a cruel, emotionless place and hated Aquaman for ignoring him.
For a time, DC shelved Black Manta after the original Aquaman was killed in the event comic series “Blackest Night.” When Aquaman was resurrected in the sequel series, “Brightest Day,” it was shown that Black Manta had given up his life of crime and was working at a fish market. Aquaman’s return, however, is enough to get him to kill everyone in the store before returning to the ocean to renew his vendetta.
“Brightest Day” also revealed that Aquaman’s sidekick, Aqualad, was Manta’s son. Manta attempted to crush Aqualad for siding with his nemesis, declaring that his son meant nothing to him. With the help of Aquaman and his adoptive father, Aqualad was able to prevail.
In 2012, Black Manta was given a new origin following DC’s “New 52” reboot. In this timeline, Manta was a diver who tried to capture Aquaman before he became a famous hero in an attempt to become rich and famous. In the process, he accidentally killed a lighthouse operator, and Aquaman in turn killed the diver’s father thinking he was the killer. The Diver then created the Black Manta suit to kill Aquaman.
Aquaman has also made a return to DC animation, appearing as a recurring villain in “Young Justice” and the lighthearted “Batman: The Brave and the Bold.”
Now Black Manta will appear in the DC Cinematic Universe to take on Jason Momoa‘s Aquaman in the hero’s solo film coming in 2018. No word yet on whether the DCCU will use an origin story from the comics or make a brand new one.