Way back in 2019, there were rumors swimming around that James Wan, who was coming off the success of his Aquaman film, might be fishing in the depths of the Atlantean world and was creating a smaller-scale, horror spinoff based on the creatures who appeared during the underwater trench sequence. At the time, fans were cautiously optimistic that this rumor would come to fruition, but, sadly, discovered earlier this year that the Trench movie was cancelled. To make matters worse, we’ve now learned that The Trench was actually a covert Black Manta solo movie with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II reprising the titular role.
Last week, Wan posted to Instagram under his handle “CreepyPuppet” a photo of Black Manta’s new helmet, highlighting the new costume design for the upcoming sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. When a fan commented on the post, inquiring if Wan would be willing to direct a Black Manta series on HBO Max (similar to how John Cena got a spinoff to his character The Peacemaker from this year’s Suicide Squad).
While Wan never directly answered the fan, he did respond saying, “I’ll let you in on a secret”, Wan wrote on Instagram, “the canceled Trench spin-off movie was really going to be a secret Black Manta movie.”
Since the post, Warner Brothers, who owns the rights to the Aquaman characters, has neither confirmed nor denied Wan’s statement. However, if this is in fact true, then it raises many questions for fans: Was this always going to be a Black Manta film and the Trench was just a weird way to throw fans off the scent? Or, was the Trench movie real and in early development, priorities shifted over to telling Black Manta’s story? Fans will surely speculate the reason for the secrecy and the reason why the project was canceled in the first place.
Black Manta was last seen in the post-credit scene in Aquaman, where he is rescued by a marine biologist who has agreed to help Abdul-Mateen II find and destroy Aquaman in exchange for more details about the lost city of Atlantis.
Fans will have to wait to see Abdul-Mateen II reprise the role of Black Manta when Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is released on December 16th, 2022.
Until then Abdul-Mateen II can be seen in The Matrix Resurrections when it’s released on December 22nd.