What You Need To Know About Black Manta, Aquaman’s Archenemy

Aquaman is set to square off against this baddie in his standalone movie

black manta aquaman dc comics

Aquaman has his foe for his own standalone film in 2018.

TheWrap’s Umberto Gonzales reported Tuesday that in the “Aquaman” film, after he makes his debut in “Justice League” next year, the King of the Seven Seas will do battle with his archenemy Black Manta.

First introduced in “Aquaman” issue #35 in 1967, Black Manta is the natural choice of opponent for the standalone “Aquaman” film — this villain is to Aquaman essentially as Green Goblin is to Spider-Man. Manta and Aquaman are personal enemies. Interestingly, Manta’s real name is not known.

In every version of Black Manta’s origin — there are at least three distinct versions of the story of his beginnings — his feud with Aquaman began early in his life.

In the first version, Black Manta is a kid from Baltimore who is kidnapped and forced into service on a ship while being constantly abused by his captors. This broke him, turning him violent and causing him to resent the sea and by extension Aquaman as its chief representative — even though Aquaman had nothing to do with his capture or abuse.

In Black Manta’s second origin, he begins as an autistic child who is locked away in Arkham Asylum. At Arkham, he’s treated badly and experimented upon. While the Arkham doctors do manage to cure Black Manta’s autism, their treatments have a side effect that’s much worse than the condition they fixed. Manta became violent, killed his primary doctor and escaped the Asylum, latching onto Aquaman as a symbol — the young Black Manta became obsessed with him after seeing him on TV.

The most recent version of Manta’s origin came after DC’s “New 52” continuity reboot in 2011, and this is also where Manta’s tie to Aquaman became really personal.

In this version, the young Black Manta was a treasure hunter, living with his father on their family boat. Manta decides to search for the famed Merman of Amnesty Bay, hoping to collect the bounty for its capture. But he’s overzealous in his search, and accidentally kills the operator of a local lighthouse.

The Merman is, of course, Aquaman himself. In retaliation for the murder, Aquaman tracks Manta back to his family boat and kills Manta’s father, thinking he was the murderer. Swearing revenge, the young killer become Black Manta.

Black Manta is not, in most incarnations of the character, a metahuman — meaning he doesn’t inherently have any special powers. He’s a skilled fighter and swimmer, though, and he crafts a suit that levels the playing field with Aquaman a bit.

The Black Manta suit gives him massive strength — like “lifting a car over his head” kind of strength — and enables him to survive the pressures of the deep ocean. It’s bulletproof, allows him to breathe underwater, and features a jetpack that works underwater and in the air.

And, of course, he’s got weapons — primarily blades and a trident, like the one Aquaman himself wields. The suit also can jam Aquaman’s telepathic abilities, preventing him from being able to communicate with ocean life. In addition to the jetpack, Black Manta can navigate the sea with his manta-shaped submarine.

The signature tool in his arsenal is his distinctive bug-eyed helmet, which fires powerful beams from the eye sockets.

Which of Black Manta’s origins will be used for the “Aquaman” film remain under wraps, but the New 52 origin is more likely than the others because much of the material from the DC Extended Universe thus far has been loosely based on New 52 versions of things — Cyborg’s origin, for example, will be the New 52 version.

For now, all we know about Black Manta is that he’ll be the villain of the film. Given the personal nature of their animosity, particularly in the New 52 origin of Black Manta, there’s a good chance he’ll be around for more than one film. But that’s just speculation at this point.