DC Comics legend Geoff Johns, who helmed the New 52’s Aquaman title, played an influential role in the upcoming Warner Bros. film.
While visiting the set of Aquaman, the film’s Black Manta star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II revealed he had talked with Johns about the villain who Johns knew better than most having written him. When Johns stopped by ComicBook.com’s studio at San Diego Comic Con, the conversation lead to revealing what exactly Johns’ advice to Abdul-Mateen II and director James Wan may have been.
“We talked a bout Black Manta in the terms of what Ivan and I did in the terms of the New 52,” Johns said. “The thing I always loved about the Black Manta was how mysterious he was, how driven he was. He’s kind of unstoppable. The shorthand is he’s kind of like the Boba Fett of the DC Universe, in my mind. He’s just a shark. We went into the emotional backstory of David Caine in the New 52 and we play a lot of that inside the Aquaman movie too. The fact that his choice of weapon is this knife and what the knife means to him and how important this knife is, is just how brutal this character can be. Black Manta isn’t a character that can get overly emotional even though he’s emotional on the inside.”
Abdul-Mateen II was excited and open to Johns’ influence. “We sat down a couple of weeks ago, when I was in Los Angeles,” the actor said in July of 2017. “He’s a big fan of the character. Yeah, he’s a big fan of the character, he loves him, and he’s seen some stuff, and he’s liked what he’s seen thus far. I mean, I was really excited to get across the table from him, and talk about the character, and just pick his brain about some of his ideas, and say, ‘Oh, okay, okay. I kind of see what you’re doing. This is where I think I’ll also start.’ We actually sat down, and we were pretty much in line with a lot of the ideas.”
In fact, the New 52’s story seems to have been the foundation for the Black Manta character but also the Aquaman movie as a whole.
“James Wan, he really picked out, he’s an amazing director and he said, ‘I want to do Aquaman,'” Johns said. “He loves classic Aquaman; the sea horses, the Ocean Master, the orange chain mail. He wanted to do all of that. He was really like, ‘I want to see the iconic Aquaman.’ You can even see there’s blonde in Jason’s hair now.”