It’s easy for normals to joke about Aquaman (e.g., various seasons of Entourage, the animated Brave & The Bold series, etc.). In fairness, he’s not someone you took all that seriously for most of the 20th century. Mind-controls fish, rides a seahorse, wields a trident, King of Atlantis. Got it.
But in the 21st century, Hollywood is riding a gravy train called the MCU, and that shit was built on a foundation of Iron Man movies. IRON MAN, for Pete’s sake. Before 2008, ol' Shellhead was a second-stringer at best. Now we’re on Ant-Man sequels and Guardians of the Galaxy sequels and you do not write off a comic-book character just because he seems “silly.”
Anyway, that’s why an Aquaman movie is suddenly a good idea and not a silly Vinnie Chase subplot. From the glimpses we’ve seen, it looks like Warner Brothers is going the “pissed off King Of Atlantis/Namor” route for their Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and heck, I don't see a Namor movie happening, and this take worked well enough in the animated Justice League, so why not.
And the DCEU needs someone for their Aquaman to fight. On the “Aquaman Villains Anyone Has Ever Hard Of” short list, you’ve got a whopping two names: Ocean Master and Black Manta. (Yes, nerds, there are more, but you’ve got to keep this stuff at about a Superfriends level of recognizability out of the gate.) Ocean Master is Aquaman’s brother, so they’re probably hanging onto that one for a sequel, since today it was revealed that Black Manta will be the baddie in James Wan’s upcoming film.
Sayeth The Wrap:
TheWrap has exclusively learned the bad guy of the movie will be Aquaman’s deadliest and most-famous opponent — Black Manta. “Aquaman” diehards should go nuts for the film’s adherence to DC lore — “Aquaman” first introduced the villain in 1967. In DC’s “New 52” reboot, Black Manta is a man in a suit with no innate super powers.
Black Manta has some different origins, but here’s hoping they go with the 1993 version, where he was shanghaied and sexually assaulted on a boat, causing him to hate the sea and everything associated with it - including Aquaman. Holy wow. Later versions of Black Manta depict him as an autistic black man who wants to conquer Atlantis so the black population of the Earth can live there free from tyranny and oppression. That’s certainly a direction.
Black Manta’s backstory has been reworked again since then, in one or more of the mandatory, bi-annual DC reboots, so who knows which direction Wan will take the character. DC honcho Geoff Johns was the scribe behind the New 52 iteration of ol’ Arthur Curry in the comics, so maybe that’s the way they’ll go, even though the whole universe has been scrapped? Who can say.
Aquaman opens on July 27th, 2018.