While Black Manta has one of the more striking supervillain designs in comics, it was important for Aquaman director James Wan that he didn't merely copy the costume for the film.
The filmmaker revealed that while the upcoming film retained the outfit's classic look, straight down to its menacing helmet with glowing red eyes, the costume will have its own backstory and practical reason for its design.
"We have to factor the practicality of what it means for our stunt person and actor to wear this outfit and yet retain what we love about their designs," Wan explained during a visit by journalists to the film's Australia set. "That was one of the things I love about the aesthetic of the Aquaman world, the Geoff Johns, you know, your [New] 52 sort of look, right?"
Johns, who co-wrote the film's story with Wan and screenwriter Will Beall, had Black Manta figure prominently during his comic book run on the character with artist Ivan Reis. The duo's New 52 run reportedly served as a strong inspiration for the DCEU film both in terms of visual design and backstories behind the characters. The iconic Aquaman villain will be portrayed by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II with a first glimpse of the antagonist revealing a helmet that was faithful to the source material.
"Black Manta's outfit is the way it is for a reason. King Orm's outfit is basically his military outfit as Ocean Master. And so there's story point to all of that," Wan continued. "Black Manta, why he has these two glowing red eyes, the way he is in his helmet, you know, I have a backstory for that as well."
With Aquaman expected to premiere its first trailer this Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con, fans will hopefully get a full look at the villain's costume in his live-action debut.
Directed by James Wan, Aquaman stars Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Amber Heard as Mera, Patrick Wilson as Ocean Master, Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta, Temuera Morrison as Thomas Curry, and Dolph Lundgren as Nereus. It is scheduled to arrive in theaters on December 21.