Despite being a character with close to 75 years worth of history, Aquaman does not have the most well known villains. Though most recent writers have gone out of their way to rectify this, there are two known well enemies. One is Aquaman’s half brother Orm aka Ocean Master. The other is the dangerous Black Manta.
Despite being around for about 50 years, not much is known about Black Manta. He holds the infamous distinction of murdering Aquaman’s infant child. In current comics he is responsible for murdering Aquaman’s father. In response, Aquaman murdered his father in return thinking that the father was Black Manta. No matter what era it is, Aquaman and Black Manta have a burning hatred of one another.
One of Black Manta’s most notable features is that he is a black man. It was hard pressed to find a black villain to a white hero especially back in the 60’s/70’s. This aspect is hardly played up except for one period of time where writers had Black Manta claim he was trying to find a paradise for his people. This was quickly swept under the rug.
In more recent times writers have been playing up how dangerous and brilliant Black Manta Is. He designed a suit himself to withstand the pressures of the underwater oceans. His weapons are now explicitly designed to take down Atlanteans who have skin as tough as a rhino. There was also his interpretation in Young Justice where he had these attributes as well being the leader of a mercenary group. This gave him an army to battle the one that Aquaman has as the king of Atlantis.
It is no surprise that Black Manta was chosen as the main villain of the Aquaman. The feud between Aquaman and Ocean Master is too similar to the one between Thor and Loki. Black Manta gives them a chance to explore new avenues. He would be one of the first black villains in the modern superhero movie age. It also establishes a nice counterpoint to Aquaman who relies on his natural abilities and someone who is self made. Now who to play him?