Tuesday, January 31, 2017

AQUAMAN Casts Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta

As if the Ocean Master wasn't enough for Aquaman to deal with.

The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that the upcoming Aquaman movie directed by James Wan has cast Yahya Adbul-Mateen II as the DC Comics supervillain Black Manta

Abdul-Mateen joins Jason Momoa as Aquaman/Arthur Curry, Amber Heard as Mera, Willem DeFoe as Vulko, and Patrick Wilson as Ocean Master/Orm.  The movie is expected to start production in April in Australia.

According to the article, Wan and Warner Bros. have met with numerous actors for the part for the past two weeks and settled on Abdul-Mateen over the weekend.  The official offer went out yesterday and the parties are now in talks.

Abdul-Mateen is probably best known as Cadillac on the Netflix series The Get Down and is appearing in the upcoming Baywatch movie and The Greatest Showman.  He was also a finalist for the role of Lando Calrissian in Han Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Created in 1967 by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy, Black Manta first appeared in Aquaman (vol.1) #35 as David, a boy who grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and loved to play by Chesapeake Bay.  As a child, he was kidnapped and forced to work on a ship for an unspecified amount of time, where he was sexually abused by his captors.  At one point, he saw Aquaman with his dolphin friends and tried to signal him for help but was not seen. Finally forced to defend himself, David killed one of his tormentors on the ship with a knife. Hating the emotionless sea and Aquaman, whom he saw as its representative, the boy was determined to become its master.

As an adult, David designed a costume comprised of a black wetsuit with a bug-eyed helmet, that was able to shoot rays from its eyes, and fashioned a high-tech submersible inspired by manta rays. Taking the name Black Manta, he and his masked army became a formidable force, engaging in at least one unrecorded clash with Aquaman prior to his first appearance as a rival to the Ocean Master.

Black Manta and Aquaman battled repeatedly over the next several years.  During most of his appearances, his main goals were defeating Aquaman and gaining power for himself through the conquest of Atlantis.  At one point, Manta murdered Arthur Curry, Jr., Aquaman's son, which left Aquaman obsessed with revenge.

In the current DC Comics continuity known as The New 52, it was revealed that Aquaman had killed Black Manta's father by accident in retaliation for Manta attacking Aquaman's father.  Seeking revenge, Black Manta attempted to kill all of Aquaman's family and friends, some of whom belonged to a team Aquaman once formed called the Others.  Aquaman and the Others soon defeated Black Manta, placing him in Belle Reve Prison, where he was briefly part of Amanda Waller's Suicide Squad.

This will be the first time the character will be depicted in live-action, although he has appeared in various animated projects, including The Superman/Aquaman Hour and The All-New Super Friends Hour (voiced by Ted Knight), Challenge of the Super Friends (voiced by Ted Cassidy), Batman: Brave and the Bold (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson), Young Justice (voiced by Khary Payton), and Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (voiced by Harry Lennix).

Aquaman is currently scheduled to arrive in theaters on October 5, 2018.

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