Aquaman 2's James Wan Reveals What DC's Trench Spinoff Would Have Been About

Trench creature in Aquaman movie
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

While Patrick Wilson’s Ocean Master and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Black Manta served as Aquaman’s primary antagonists, Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry and Amber Heard’s Mera ran into a little bit of trouble with The Trench during the movie. Several months after Aquaman’s release, it was announced that a spinoff focused on these monstrous creatures was in development, but it was cancelled earlier this year. Now Aquaman director James Wan, who's back to helm Aquaman 2, has revealed that the Trench move would have featured Black Manta front and center.

James Wan shared this information in the comments section of his Instagram post showing off pictures of Black Manta’s new costume for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. When a fan asked if Wan would be doing a Black Manta streaming series, the filmmaker responded:

I’ll let you in on a secret, the canceled Trench spin-off movie was really going to be a secret Black Manta movie.

Back when The Trench’s existence was first reported on in February 2019, it was said that this would be a “much more modestly budgeted” project compared to Aquaman, and that no one from the main cast of the sixth DC Extended Universe movie wouldn’t appear. Well according to James Wan (who was attached as producer, while Noah Gardner and Aidan Fitzgerald were writing the script), that wasn’t true, as Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Black Manta would have been the central protagonist. In a world where DC villains/anti-heroes like Joker and Black Adam are getting their own movies, this certainly would have been a good way to spotlight arguably Aquaman’s most famous adversary after he made his cinematic debut in late 2018.

Black Manta new costume in Aquaman 2

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Alas, as mentioned earlier, The Trench is no longer moving forward, with it and New Gods being shelved back in April. It’s unclear if any of the Black Manta-related material from The Trench was recycled for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and it also remains to be seen if those title creatures, who debuted back in The New 52’s Aquaman #1, will factor into the sequel. Either way, Black Manta fans don’t need to worry about the DC supervillain sitting out of the cinematic spotlight for too much longer, as we’re a little over a year away from reuniting with this version of the character.

Specific plot details for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom are still be kept secret, but the Aquaman mid-credits scene saw Black Manta being rescued by Randall Park’s Dr. Stephen Shin, a marine biologist desperate to learn the location of Atlantis. Black Manta (real name David Kane) agreed to lead Shin there, provided that he first help with exacting revenge on Arthur Curry, who Manta blames for his father’s death. Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Jason Momoa and the other returning cast members from the first movie will be joined by new faces like Vincent Regan, Jani Zhao, Indya Moore and Pilou Asbæk.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom dives into theaters on December 16, 2022, and if you’re curious what else the DCEU has coming up, look through our upcoming DC Comics movies guide.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.