All about Black Manta, the tragic villain of the Aquaman movie

Black Manta is a complex villain and not particularly well-known to non-Aquaman fans. The appearance of Patrick Wilson as Orm , the Ocean Master , brother of the hero and main rival during the film, cannot make us forget this important nemesis of the Atlantean king.

In the James Wan film, the character is played by actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II ( The Get Down , The Greatest Showman ).

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Discover with us the essential facts of Black Manta’s history and why he is such an important villain, both in the comics and in the movie!

mysterious origins

Despite what we might believe, Black Manta’s first appearance, in Aquaman #35 (1967), came without any kind of introduction or explanation. A submarine accompanied by a squad of “Manta Men” attacked Atlantis, and Aquaman deduced that it could only be his old enemy, Black Manta.

First apparition

This middling debut may be explained by the era in which it was produced, when any random villain with a bulbous helmet was as good as any other. Fortunately, in the years that followed, the writers sought to give Manta a slightly more complex story and motivations. However, the result was different interpretations, most of them quite strange and incoherent, which is far from being a full-fledged origin story. Of course, with the different reboots suffered by the character during the last two decades, the list of influences that James Wan may have drunk to bring the character to life is as rich and varied as possible.

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The “Black” thing makes sense

The sad and unfortunate tradition for African-American comic book superheroes and villains of having the adjective “black” as part of their name is well known. Surprisingly, Black Manta ‘s secret identity (and thus his ethnicity) were not revealed for the first 10 years of his existence; the character was not unmasked until Adventure Comics #452 (1977). Unfortunately, the unmasking was pretty gratuitous and not very subtle, to put it nicely.

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bubbly motivations

The reasons for Black Manta’s hatred of Aquaman have been, depending on the moment, interesting and confusing, changing according to the authors through the decades. However, Manta is a surprisingly complex character. Since his creation, he has been defined by an obsession with Aquaman that borders on the tragic, but the possibility of redemption for the character has occasionally been pointed out.

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Originally, Manta, who has never been given a real name beyond “David” , blamed Aquaman for not rescuing him from being kidnapped as a young man by pirates, who put him in their service on a fishing boat when he was young. young man. In Aquaman #6 (1993), writer Shaun McLaughlin turned Black Manta into a tragic figure , revealing his childhood trauma from physical (and, by implication, sexual) abuse that explains his dedication for so many years to cruelly tormenting Arthur Curry and his family. Manta grew up despising the sea and everything related to it, mainly blaming Aquaman, who didn’t listen to his cries for help.

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In case the above did not seem tragic enough, in Aquaman # 8 (2003), Rick Veitch revealed to us that David/Manta had spent much of his childhood in Arkham Asylum, at a time when few understood how to diagnose, and much less treat his autism .

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The shock “therapies” applied to him in the terrible institution turned him into a violent murderer with a staunch hatred of Aquaman: Black Manta.

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Since DC’s 2011 relaunch, there is a new version, in which a teenage Manta was accidentally responsible for the death of Aquaman’s father, leading Aquaman to kill Manta’s father, believing him to be the killer. In this version we already discover the full name of the character, David Hyde .

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Aquaman disfigured David and fled, leaving the young man to take up the mantle of Manta and swear revenge against him, becoming bitter enemies ever since.

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father and children

Regardless of the source of their conflict, Manta has long been responsible for some of the most brutal attacks on Aquaman. In Adventure Comics # 452 (1977), which brought the character back after years of neglect, he murdered Aquaman’s son as part of a death trap intended to lead the hero to kill his own wife; although the trap ultimately failed, the loss of his child separated them for several years.

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In another twist to his origins, during the Brightest Day saga it was revealed to us that Black Manta was a treasure hunter who was captured along with his wife while exploring the Bermuda Triangle by the Xebelians, belonging to the dimension that Mera came from. The two were mercilessly tortured and experimented on David’s wife, who was pregnant, to give the child powers similar to those of the residents of Xebel . Fearing that the child would be used as a pawn in a possible invasion of Earth, Xebel’s princess Mera kidnapped the child and brought him to Earth, where she saw to it that he was adopted and raised away from the water to keep him from harm. their people.

aqualad

Kaldur’ahm, DC’s second and current Aqualad (the first, Garth, later assumed the identity of Tempest ) was initially created for the Young Justice animated series , but was introduced into official DC continuity by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis in Brightest Day #4 (2010), under the identity of Jackson Hyde and with the ability to manipulate the density of water . Despite disappearing during the New 52 , ​​the character was reintroduced with the Rebirth initiative as a gay teenager struggling to find his place in the world while also being a member of the Teen Titans ..

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What can be worse than a mother’s misunderstanding? Well, your father completely ignores the subject…

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Villain or antihero?

Black Manta has been involved in such bizarre and perverse plots as selling his soul to a demon in exchange for superpowers that would allow him to defeat the hero, or planning a plot to transform human beings so that they could breathe underwater and thus complicate even more the underwater kingdom of Aquaman.

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However, there have been several glimpses of redemption for the character. In both Brightest Day (2010) and Forever Evil (2013), when he believes that Aquaman is out of the game (either dead or condemned to another dimension), Black Manta is able to easily fool around with the role of anti- hero and dedicate his abilities to improve the world. With this idea he was even part of the Suicide Squad for a brief period , although the thing ended quite badly. Don’t ask!

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At the heart of the character, however, is this strange , fascinating and tragic personality that is unusual for a villain. Black Manta is someone so traumatized by his childhood that he has become obsessed with perfecting himself in order to ensure that no one can ever hurt him again. A kind of Batman turned to the dark side?

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You may also be interested in: Aquaman Review (2018)