Soon after Jason Momoa’s Aquaman made his triumphant solo debut in 2018, there were rumors about not only a sequel but also a spin-off movie about the terrifying realm of The Trench, which the aquatic hero battles his way through towards the climax of the movie. After being announced in February 2019, the teased horror film, which was to be directed by James Wan, was eventually canceled by Warner Bros, but of course the sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, has moved on and is set for release in December 2022. According to Wan, though, the Trench movie was not just about the hideous creatures of the dark region.
Writing in an Instagram post, Wan revealed, “I’ll let you in on a little secret. The canceled Trench spin-off movie was really going to be a secret Black Manta movie.”
Black Manta was one of the lesser villains to appear in Aquaman, with the character being played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in the movie, a role he reprises in the upcoming sequel. Black Manta is created when David Kane looks to take revenge on Aquaman for the death of his father, who Kane worked with as a pirate. While Black Manta is defeated by the Atlantean hero, the mid-credits scene of the movie sees him joining forces with Dr. Stephen Shin, played by Randall Park, in an alliance that was always seeming to head into the sequel.
However, with Wan’s revelation about the canceled Trench movie, could part of that story have been told in the spinoff rather than forming a seemingly integral part of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom? This is likely something we will never know, but as the character of Black Manta was only created due to the events early on in Aquaman, the movie would have had to be a sequel and therefore would have sat between the events of the two main films.
As it stands, Black Manta’s story will continue in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which along with Abdul-Mateeh II and Momoa also sees the return of Amber Heard and Randall Park reprising their roles of Mera and Shin. The sequel also brings back Dolph Lundgren, Patrick Wilson and Temuera Morrison, while Vincent Regan, Jani Zhao, Indya Moor and Pilou Asbaek are some of the newcomers to the franchise.
Aquaman star Jason Momoa recently joked about being an “aging superhero” when recounting a number of injuries he sustained while working on the stunt-filled sequel. Appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Momoa revealed that he has suffered a scratched cornea, which he needs surgery on, and also has a hernia and some misplaced ribs as a result of the action-packed scenes that bring the movie’s big set pieces to life.
“I’m just getting beat up. But it’s gonna be a great movie. You’re gonna love it,” he said. “…I just kinda give it, yeah. I love my job and I get a little too excited. And then, you know, the age thing.” When the actor pointed out that he’s “an aging superhero right now,” the host responded, “You’re a good-looking aging superhero is what you are.”
While there is little currently known about the plot of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, James Wan revealed in a recent interview that the film will be more complex than its predecessor. “There are more complexities in Aquaman 2 than in the first movie,” he explained last month. “This is just stuff that I learned along the way, and it’s what I find intriguing as a filmmaker, and I try to take everything that I’ve learned from each film, and carry them with me to my next movie.”
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is expected to arrive in movie theaters on December 16th, 2022.