James Wan’s upcoming Aquaman film has cast another villain.
Set to play DC Comics villain Black Manta is Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, known for his role in Baz Luhrmann’s Netflix series The Get Down.
THR broke the news, reporting that the actor has entered talks with Warner Bros. to play the villain opposite Jason Momoa’s hero. Abdul-Mateen’s casting comes after Wan and WB reportedly spent the last couple of weeks meeting with numerous actors.
Manta first appeared in DC Comics in 1967, although it wasn’t until ’93 that the character was given an origin story.
One origin found the character growing up as a Baltimore boy who is kidnapped and forced to work on a ship, where he is abused by his captors. While on the water, he sees Aquaman and his dolphin buddies. He signals for help, but they don’t see him. Eventually, the boy kills a captor and escapes. Hating the sea and Aquaman, the boy grows up determined to become its master.
An alternative origin story given in the 2003 Aquaman series reimagines the boy who would become Black Manta was an autistic orphan in Gotham City’s Arkham Asylum. After horrible treatment and experiments, young Black Manta, who was fascinated when he saw Aquaman on TV, manages to break out. He ends up designing a wetsuit with a helmet that shoots rays from its eyes and crafts a submersible inspired by manta rays.
The character has clashed with Aquaman repeatedly, at one point even killing Arthur Curry, Jr., Aquaman’s son. The comics have also seen Manta transformed into a manta ray/human hybrid, leading to him wearing his outfit as a way to cover his new appearance.
If all goes well, Abdul-Mateen will be joining an expanding cast that includes Amber Heard as Mera, Aquaman’s royal love interest; Willem Dafoe as Aquaman’s advisor, Dr. Vulko; and Wan’s Insidious and Conjuring star Patrick Wilson, who’s attached to play Orm, a villain who also happens to be Aquaman’s half-brother.
Aquaman is scheduled to hit US cinemas on October 5, 2018 and is expected to start filming in Australia in April.