Aquaman: Who Is Black Manta?
With his own movie on the horizon, a generation of superhero movie fans may find themselves a bit clueless about Aquaman. Even worse, they may only know him as a Family Guy punchline. Black Manta, the movie's rumored villain, is a great place to start learning about your new favorite submarine superhero. After all, what's a great hero without a brutal nemesis trying to take him down?
His hatred for Aquaman stems from trauma at sea
In one version of his back story, Black Manta was kidnapped as a young man. His captors took him out to sea, where he was mistreated and sexually abused. He turned his anger and hatred toward the unforgiving sea, and toward Aquaman, who he saw as the embodiment of the ocean.
... Or because of his treatment for autism
In an alternate take on the character, Black Manta was a young boy with autism who was only comfortable when submerged in cold water. Undergoing a series of brutal experiments to try to treat his condition, his autism was reversed but he was also left with increased strength, durability, and a taste for violence.
For awhile, his name was quite literal
So far, we've been talking about Manta's psychology but it's important to remember that this all happens in a world where magic is real. At one point, Black Manta crossed paths with a demon named Neron, who transformed him into a human/manta ray hybrid. This allowed Black Manta to survive underwater without the use of his iconic suit and mask.
He once had his face bitten off
There are plenty of hazards in the open ocean, not the least of which is shark attacks. Probably even worse is being attacked by a sentient, superpowered humanoid shark. One encounter between these two ended when King Shark bit Black Manta's face right off.
He killed Aquaman's son
Many of our favorite superheroes sacrifice personal lives for the sake of their duties. It's possible that Aquaman was the inspiration for this template. He learned a terrible lesson when Black Manta suffocated and murdered his young child. This wasn't a byproduct of some other scheme or any kind of accident. Black Manta just straight up murdered a kid in order to hurt his enemy.
His own son is a superhero
Black Manta never could catch a break. For awhile, he was married, with a child on the way. The family was captured by interdimensional beings who experimented on the baby in utero. Raised outside of his father's influence, the child, Jackson Hyde, would grow up to be the second Aqualad, the leader of "The Team" from Young Justice.
He cut off Aquaman's hand
If the Skywalkers taught us anything, it's that one of the best ways to really leave a mark on your nemesis is to lob off one of their hands. Granted, Aquaman's dismemberment is a bit overshadowed by the aforementioned child murder but this was a stone cold move nonetheless.
He has been a member of the Suicide Squad
You can only turn down Amanda Waller so many times before you eventually have to give in. During stints in the Belle Reve prison, Black Manta turned down the opportunity to join the Suicide Squad twice before finally joining up in Volume 4 of the comic book series.
There is still so much we don't know
Black Manta is to Aquaman as Joker is to Batman. Like Joker, there is a ton of backstory that has never been revealed. Despite debuting in 1967 in Aquaman #35, we didn't get any sense of an origin story until 1993. The history and details of aquatic suit are yet to be explained. Even his name remains a mystery. We still don't know his identity beyond probably being called "David."
So what's your take? Do you hope that we get a similar version of Black Manta or would a fresh take be better for the gritty realism of the DCEU?