Black Manta fans are expecting nightmare fuel in Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom

Aquaman, Black Manta and the fate of Aqua Baby.DC Comics/Warner Bros

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’s focus on Black Manta has some long-time fans wondering if the shocking death of Aqua-Baby is coming to the big screen.

Black Manta is front and center of the recent teaser trailer for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which is a relief to fans. Manta barely factored into the original film, being unceremoniously removed from the field even before the halfway mark. 

Black Manta has been a notorious Aquaman villain since the early days of the hero. His desire to kill Aquaman by any means necessary has become almost a meme, he’s petty enough to rival even Reverse-Flash. 

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That’s not always the case, though. Some stories have depicted Manta as downright terrifying, and one story that could play into Aquaman 2 could be the darkest turn for a comic book movie yet. 

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom fans wonder if Black Manta killing Aqua-baby could happen

The event in question is Black Manta’s killing of Aquaman’s infant son, Arthur Curry Jr., better known as Aqua-Baby. The event takes place in 1977’s Adventure Comics #452, an issue that is so unassuming in its cover art that you wouldn’t know it features the death of an infant. Instead, the cover shows Aquaman and his teenage sidekick, Aqualad, fighting to the death.

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In the issue, Aquaman and Aqualad are forced to fight in an arena by Black Manta. To motivate them to fight, Black Manta has placed Aqua-Baby inside a bubble slowly filling with oxygen, threatening to suffocate him. 

It is shocking even today to see a story end with a hero holding a dead infant and swearing revenge. That hasn’t stopped many social media users from wondering aloud if the upcoming Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom would utilize the scene. 

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The conceit is that Black Manta will release Arthur Curry Jr. once either Aquaman or Aqualad is dead. The two fight until they’re able to see through Manta’s ruse and find a way to shatter the bubble holding Arthur Jr., but it’s too late. 

The death of Aqua-Baby would be a defining moment for Aquaman. It took the rivalry between Aquaman and Black Manta, at that time just a typical Silver Age matter, to a much darker place, as both sought nothing less than to kill the other for a time. 

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The event could serve a similar purpose for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. The teaser proposes a much darker film, with Aquaman’s childhood home at one point seen on fire as he stands among the rubble. Black Manta is seen as a much more terrifying threat, scarred from his previous fight with Aquaman and seeking righteous vengeance. 

It seems unlikely the film would take the leap to having Black Manta kill a character like Aqua-Baby. It would be a huge leap to ask viewers to watch something like killing a child, not to mention the sudden shift to Aquaman being a father. But it remains to be seen how the film will actually build the rivalry between the two characters. 

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Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom releases on December 20. For more Aquaman and comic book news, make sure to follow all our coverage

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