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Aquaman Finds Its Black Manta, Nicole Kidman Eyes Mom Role

By Ryan Scott — January 31st, 2017

Fans of the DC Extended Universe, who have been looking forward to some of the movies Warner Bros. currently has in the works, have been getting some unfortunate news lately. The Flash is getting a page-one rewrite and is almost certainly being delayed. But the bigger news is that Ben Affleck is no longer directing The Batman. Still, amidst this negative news and setbacks has come something potentially exciting. The upcoming Aquaman movie has cast Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta, who will be the main villain in the movie. So we now know who is going to go toe-to-toe with Jason Momoa's Arthur Curry next year.

The news comes courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter, who are reporting that Warner Bros. and director James Wan have officially made the offer to Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and negotiations are now underway. Per the report, James Wan and the studio have been meeting with actors for the part of Black Manta over the past couple of weeks and they ultimately decided on Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who made it on Hollywood's radar after starring in Netflix's The Get Down. He will also be starring in the upcoming R-rated Baywatch movie and was reportedly a finalist for the role of a young Lando Calrissian in the upcoming Han SoloStar Wars standalone movie. It was Donald Glover who ultimately landed that role.

In addition to the casting of Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, THR is reporting that Oscar-nominee Nicole Kidman is up for the role of Aquaman's mom in the movie as well. The deal isn't set in stone, but the report notes that things are looking good and that she is James Wan's top choice for the role and has been for weeks. Assuming the movie sticks somewhat close to the comics, the character of Atlanna is royalty in the underwater kingdom of Atlantis. She eventually escapes the kingdom and falls in love with a humble, human lighthouse keeper. She then gives birth to Aquaman as a result. Nicole Kidman hasn't starred in a comic book movie since 1995's Batman Forever, in which she played Dr. Chase Meridian. This would probably be a big step up in a lot of ways.

It was first reported last year that Black Manta was set to be the main villain in Aquaman, which makes sense. Aquaman doesn't have a major rogues gallery of villains like many other superheroes do and Black Manta is the closest thing he has to an arch nemesis. Recently, The Conjuring star Patrick Wilson was cast as Orm, aka Ocean Master, in Aquaman, who is something of a bad guy but is also the half-brother of Aquaman, so it is possible we will be seeing multiple bad guys in the movie. It is hard to say exactly how Orm will factor in, since plot details have largely been kept under lock and key so far. Either way, despite troubles elsewhere in the DCEU, a promising up-and-comer is playing Black Manta and a recent Oscar nominated actress is possibly going to be playing Arthur Curry's mom, and that should be encouraging to fans.

The character of Black Manta is exceedingly dark, and has been a villain for Aquaman dating back to his first appearance in Aquaman #35 in September of 1967. Essentially, Black Manta is a man, generally depicted with enhanced strength and abilities, who wants to challenge Aquaman to rule the sea. He typically wears a high-tech suit that allows him to be under water, which also features various weapons. There are a couple of different origin stories for the character, which are very, very dark. In the 1993 origin, he was kidnapped as a boy and forced to work on a ship, and was also sexually abused by his captors. He eventually had to kill one of his captors in order to escape. Another origin story was given for the character in issue #8 of the 2003 Aquaman series, in which, the nameless boy who eventually becomes Black Manta is an autistic orphan, who winds up in Arkham Asylum and is experimented on. As a result, he becomes incredibly violent, even though it did seem to "cure" him of his autism, to a degree.

Aquaman is gearing up for production and is expected to start shooting this April in Australia. We will next see Jason Momoa as Aquaman in Justice League, which is set for release on November 17. Up to this point, we have only seen the character for mere seconds in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Amber Heard and Willem Dafoe are also set to star in Aquaman, which is currently scheduled to hit theaters on October 15, 2018.

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