Aquaman 2 Borrows Elements From Canceled Black Manta Spin-off Movie

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom director James Wan says the upcoming DC Extended Universe film incorporates elements from the canceled Black Manta spin-off.

Per Collider, Wan discussed the scrapped Black Manta film’s influence on Lost Kingdom during a special press preview of the Aquaman sequel’s trailer. “We had developed the Trench movie, and ultimately, like most things, you develop — if they work out, great, if they don’t, then that’s fine as well,” Wan said. “We didn’t want that project to potentially step on the Aquaman films, but we came up with a lot of really interesting ideas and really cool stuff that I felt we could use it in this one.”

The director continued, “And so with the Trench movie, it was going to be a secret Black Manta, right? Initially, we announced it as a Trench movie, but ultimately, we wanted to surprise the fans because that was going to be a stand-alone Black Manta movie. And so when that didn’t happen, some of those ideas kind of found its way into this there.”

What happened to DC’s Black Manta movie?

In Wan’s 2018 DCEU film Aquaman, Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Mera (Amber Heard) are forced to visit the Kingdom of the Trench, a dangerous area of the sea inhabited by a vicious subspecies of Atlanteans. In 2019, Warner Bros. Pictures announced a “horror-tinged” spin-off film about the Trench, with Wan attached as a producer and Aidan Fitzgerald attached to write the script.

However, in April 2021, Warner Bros. confirmed that it had pulled the plug on both Wan’s Trench spin-off and Ava DuVernay’s planned New Gods movie. While the studio alluded to the possibility of the projects being revived in the future, such a prospect seems unlikely. At any rate, it was later in 2021 that Wan revealed the canceled Trench spin-off was actually a secret Black Manta movie that would have seen Yahya Abdul-Mateen II reprise his role as Aquaman’s arch-nemesis in a leading capacity.

Black Manta is the main villain of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Abdul-Mateen’s Black Manta, a secondary villain in Wan’s first Aquaman movie, returns as the main antagonist of the sequel. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom centers on the relationship between half-brothers Arthur Curry and Orm Marius/Ocean Master (the main villain of the first film), with Momoa and Patrick Wilson reprising their own respective roles.

An official synopsis for Lost Kingdom reads as follows: “Having failed to defeat Aquaman the first time, Black Manta, still driven by the need to avenge his father’s death, will stop at nothing to take Aquaman down once and for all. This time Black Manta is more formidable than ever before, wielding the power of the mythic Black Trident, which unleashes an ancient and malevolent force. To defeat him, Aquaman will turn to his imprisoned brother Orm, the former King of Atlantis, to forge an unlikely alliance. Together, they must set aside their differences in order to protect their kingdom and save Aquaman’s family, and the world, from irreversible destruction.”

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom opens in theaters on Wednesday, December 20.