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Despite all of the jokes he has endured through over the years, Arthur Curry, a.k.a Aquaman (played by Jason Momoa), is a downright badass superhero. Sure, he can talk to fish, but he also carries around a giant trident and can summon a shark to tear you apart of you insult him like that. With such a an awesome member of the Justice League slated for his own solo movie in 2018, it's only fair that he gets the best possible bad guy to face off against. Ladies and gentlemen, we now have that villain in the form of Black Manta.
All that being said, Black Manta (much like Aquaman) hasn't had a great deal of exposure to mainstream audiences. In fact, some of you have probably never even heard of him. To help get you up to speed, we have assembled a list of the five most important things to know about Manta before Aquaman hits theaters on July 27, 2018. Now let's get started with one of the most important facets of the character: the nature of his relationship with Aquaman...
His Feud With Aquaman Is Personal
The eternal battle between Aquaman and Black Manta has taken several dark turns over the years. These fights have resulted in significant collateral damage on both sides of the conflict, which has only further intensified the hatred that these two sea dwellers have for one another. During one particular battle with Manta, Aquaman's father suffered from a fatal heart attack, following which Aquaman hunted down the villain to seek revenge, but this action led to him accidentally killing Black Manta's own father. However, perhaps the most iconic and personal moment between these two characters came when Black Manta actually murdered Aquaman's infant son, leaving the aquatic hero with an eternal hatred and unquenchable thirst for revenge. Considering the dark places the DCEU has already allowed itself to go to, we're not ruling out any of these awesome story moments.
His Iconic Look Is Actually A Suit
Although the manta ray-themed appearance is formidable and terrifying all on its own, it's actually a mere suit worn by the typical man hidden underneath. Unlike Arthur Curry, a.k.a Aquaman, who has a wide array of aquatic themed superpowers, Black Manta relies more on high-tech weapons and equipment to get the job done. Some versions of the character have been depicted as having enhanced physical abilities, but Black Manta typically utilizes the offensive and defensive weapons built directly into his iconic suit, along with intensive training. These features include, but are not limited to: jet packs, underwater life-supports systems, a variety of bladed weapons, and lasers that shoot from his helmet's eyes. That last one is a particular favorite of ours.
He Has A Tragic Backstory
Some villains turn even because they want to, others end up that way through a series of unfortunate events and some downright bad luck. Black Manta just so happens to represent the latter of those two. His backstory remains somewhat hazier than the average DC villain, but one of the most accepted origins for his character depicts him as an autistic child who can only find comfort in cold water and is forced to undergo horrific treatments in Arkham Asylum. Real name David (last name unknown), the boy is subjected to an experimental procedure that turns seemingly cures his autism but drives him insane and homicidal in the process. It doesn't excuse the atrocities he commits as Black Manta, but knowing his history makes him a far more tragic and relatable villain -- something the comic book genre desperately needs right now.
He's The Father of Aquaman's Sidekick
Like so many other superhero sidekicks, Aqualad is actually a title that has been utilized by multiple DC characters over the years. The second Aqualad, Jackson Hyde, a.k.a Kaldur'ahm, was a loyal warrior for Aquaman until the revelation that he was actually Black Manta's son -- a reveal perhaps made most famous during the wildly popular Young Justice cartoon. In recent years, this has led to conflicts far more personal in nature as Aquaman and Manta have battled for the very soul of the young hero. It's unclear whether or not Aquaman will use this storyline (or Aqualad, for that matter), but its potential opens up numerous Shakespearean style narratives that would be too good to pass up.
He's A Team Player
Over the years, Black Manta has developed a reputation as a brilliant military leader with a strong tactical mind. As such, he has a knack for cooperating and forging (sometimes begrudging) alliances with other villains. Manta has appeared on numerous iconic supervillain teams since his debut, ranging from being a central member of the Legion of Doom, to his recent incarnation in The New 52, which saw him recruited by Amanda Waller to become a member of Task Force X, though he didn't join that particular team right away. Who knows, depending on how his conflict with Aquaman pans out, we could even potentially see him become a member of the silver screen Suicide Squad group in an eventual sequel.