Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Promises Black Manta Will Have More Personality In Aquaman 2

When last we saw Black Manta in 2018's "Aquaman," he was onboard the research vessel of marine biologist Stephen Shin (Randall Park), a glint of vengeance in his eye as he threw his grandfather's knife into a newspaper silhouette of Arthur Curry. With Warner Bros.' big budget sequel "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" having just completed filming and set for release this time next year, we can now freely speculate on how big a presence Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's Manta will be in the next installment.

According to the actor himself, who got a big signal boost this year with the release of both "Candyman" and this week's "The Matrix Resurrections," we can expect not only more Black Manta, but perhaps a more nuanced and complex character who is more than just the sum of his Ahab-like revenge plot.

"A little bit more of his personality in this one."

Here is what Yahya Abdul-Mateen II told ComicBook:

"I think in the next Aquaman, I really wanted to put more personality into the character for us to sort of get to know him in some more private moments. Wanted to see [Black Manta] struggle with some things, then to see a bit more of his personality and character. Also, to see what it looks like for him to be in charge of something. So we get to see a little bit more of his leadership style, a little bit more of his personality in this one. And he's back for more, no doubt, in a big way."

This echoes a statement the actor made back in August, when he praised the screenplay for "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick (Jason Momoa co-penned the story) as being a big improvement on the first film, which was loads of fun but definitely had a generic taking-the-mantle hero's journey:

"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."

Director James Wan himself confirmed in the sweet-looking DC FanDome teaser that Black Manta is still on his quest for revenge against Aquaman after the Justice Leaguer wiped out his pirate squad and father at the top of the first movie. The filmmaker also recently revealed that his cancelled "The Trench" spin-off movie was going to be a secret Black Manta solo film, so clearly Wan thinks highly of both the actor and the character. As the Arthur Curry character has evolved over the DCEU films from Lobo-esque rogue to genuine hero figure, that leaves more room for an anti-hero like the mercenary David Kane/Black Manta. 

No matter how the character shakes out in the end, it's also just plain cool that his team now have suits inspired by Mario Bava's 1965 cult sci-fi flick "Planet of the Vampires."