I first revealed the villain for Aquaman HERE in case you want to read more about it, but I was slightly, I repeat slightly, disappointed that James Wan, the horror director didn’t choose the Trench Monsters from the New 52 run of Aquaman, but when I let the news settle a bit, I couldn’t be too upset about the decision.
Black Manta is the Joker to Aquaman’s Batman and the Lex Luthor to his Superman aka his arch nemesis. It’s a compelling relationship with a long history in comics which needs to be presented sooner than later and I get that now. The new question is not which villain, but who the heck should play him, and here’s who I came up with from my love of the character and finding actors that fit.
1. Michael K. Williams
He’s a face, voice, presence you just don’t forget. He can play that menacing, but calculated villain that DC is famous for having while also being an actor that can get you to feel sympathetic for at the same time. It’s that mixture of conflicting feelings towards the character that you want and K. Williams could bring that. The only issues he would face in getting the role is the age and physical aspects of the part that would likely limit him, but if they introduce a father-son duo of Mantas, he could work as father Manta. Not to mention that his scar is real and could work with the character’s backstory as is.
2. David Oyelowo
One of the undervalued and quite frankly underused actors in Hollywood, we learned Oyelowo could bring it when he portrayed Martin Luthor King in Selma by the direction of Ava Duvernay and he was phenomenal and Oscar worthy. With his thespian background as well as ability to do that whole “act a part” thing, he is my sleeper pick for the role and would love it if he was cast.
3. Michael Jai White
I didn’t put White at three because he follows me on twitter, but because he is the safe choice for a reason. He is clearly able to get the physicality down with his martial arts background, but he also provides a veteran actor to take on a role we know he’d crush. While the film came out at the wrong time, he was a great Spawn if you ask me, and he deserves to return to the comic book film world in this time period of comic book movies no matter how disappointing they’ve been this year.
4. Omari Hardwick
There is something about Hardwick that oozes villain and I mean that in a good way, I think… He has that steely look of menace while being pretty handsome and commanding whenever he’s on screen and that’s what you want from any villain, but he seems perfect for Black Manta mainly because he has a physical presence to him that could match Momoa at some point whether that’s in a fight or in a staring contest, Momoa would still win, but you get my point.
5. David Gyasi
1. Idris Elba
This is just not happening, I am 98% sure it’s not happening. Elba could fit any role you throw at him in a DC movie, but he’s too busy being wasted over at Marvel Studios as Heimdal instead of being roles he was born to play like John Stewart’s Green Lantern or Black Manta or anyone else he wants to be. I mean let’s be real, if they cast Elba as Bruce Wayne or Jor-El for goodness sake it’d be a good idea, but no, he’s Heimdal.
*This next person contains a SPOILER from Suicide Squad, sort of*
Another great talent wasted on a throw away character. I just don’t understand the reason behind casting talented people to just kill them off. Common was in literally one bloody scene in Suicide Squad and then got shot and killed by the Joker. Like Elba, Common was going to be Green Lantern at one point when George Miller was set to direct Justice League, but that clearly went nowhere. What DC/Warner Bros. can do to redeem themselves is just simply cast Common again and forget he was even Suicide Squad. Make it happen!
3. Denzel Washington
If they chose Jesse “Riddler” Eisenberg over Bryan Cranston and Denzel for Lex Luthor they aren’t going to cast Washington at all. This would be ideal casting if we didn’t all see Denzel as, you know, Denzel. He is too much of an acting juggernaut to be a side villain. I think the way you could do it by making him the father of what the younger and main Black Manta of the DC universe and have him be the puppeteer of sorts for the awful things to come in Aquaman’s world, but even saying that makes me want him to be more if he was cast.
4. Chiwetel Ejiofor
I hate repeating myself, but if it wasn’t for Marvel getting to him first, I think Ejiofor would be my top choice. He’s world class and has been shown off in more roles of recent years than you would recognize from his part work. He’s a passionate, world class actor with the look and demeanor that oozes villain, but he won’t be a villain for the DCEU any time soon since he’s going to be the Doctor Strange friend turned foe probably down the line.