Black Manta Gets More To Do In 'Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom,' Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Says

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's upward trajectory over the last few years simply can't be stopped. The Aquaman actor was first introduced to most audiences through his performance as the villainous Black Manta in the billion dollar-grossing comic book movie, and he's set to reprise his role in the sequel. This time, however, he'll be enjoying a more significant role and a better script.

Abdul-Mateen II is not lacking for work or publicity these days, earning himself a nice cover story for The Hollywood Reporter on the heels of his performances in HBO's Watchmen, Aaron Sorkin's The Trial of the Chicago 7, and Nia DaCosta's upcoming Candyman. In his profile, the conversation turns to his next appearance in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom and he doesn't try to hide his excitement over what looks like to be a larger and more extensive role.

"I think the script is better than it was in the first one. It gives the actors a lot of good storytelling moments. In Aquaman, we just got a small introduction to Black Manta and to some of his motivations. In this one, I get to exercise and breathe a little bit more. I'm showing some different colors with this one."

Room For Improvement

In all honesty, Abdul-Mateen II is right to be somewhat less than satisfied with what he had to work with on the first superhero film. There's just so much going on throughout Aquaman that Black Manta really only gets a chance to make his presence felt during that one early sequence set inside the submarine. As for the overall script, well, let's just say that there should be nowhere else to go but up with the sequel. It shouldn't be terribly hard to improve on a story that transitions from one scene to another by introducing a random, unexpected explosion in the middle of a conversation. Here's hoping that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's quotes pan out and there's a vast improvement on both fronts with Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

The fact that the Aquaman creative team seems to be placing much more of an emphasis on Abdul-Mateen II is certainly a very welcome sign. It reflects on the growth of his career since 2018, as the actor is set to add The Matrix 4, the Michael Bay-directed Ambulance, and the Mad Max: Fury Road spin-off/prequel Furiosa to his already-busy schedule.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will open in theaters on December 16, 2022.