There’s plenty of comic book history left to draw on for an Aquaman sequel, but one iconic story may be too dark to make it onto the big screen.
With Aquaman’s box office success, a sequel is all but certain. And thanks to the film’s post credits sequence, we know Black Manta is set to make a return appearance.
While Manta plays second-fiddle to King Orm in the first film, we can expect him to step up as the main Big Bad in an Aquaman sequel. There’s a reason he’s known as Aquaman’s greatest enemy.
However, perhaps the greatest reason behind their continued enmity is a storyline from the comics that may prove too dark for the big screen.
The Murder of Aquababy
In the comics, Arthur and Mera eventually marry. Not too long afterwards, they become parents to a baby boy: Arthur Curry Junior, also known as Aquababy.
Aquababy has the hydrokinetic powers of his mother, and his father’s ability to speak with sea creatures. However, unlike his father, he cannot breathe outside of water. It is this weakness that ultimately leads to Arthur Junior’s tragic demise.
Just before his second Birthday, Aquababy is kidnapped by Black Manta. As his father arrives to rescue him, Manta traps the baby in a sphere that is slowly filling with air, an act that will effectively suffocate him.
Black Manta then forces Aquaman into a fight to the death with his sidekick, Aqualad, in exchange for Aquababy’s life. During this fight, Aquaman manages to shatter the sphere holding his son.
Tragically, he is too late. Arthur Junior is already dead.
Aquababy’s death had far-reaching consequences in the Aquaman comics.
Mera blames Arthur for their son’s death, and their relationship crumbles, ending in divorce. While they reconcile some years later, the death of Arthur Junior remains a sore point between them. At one point, Arthur, transformed into a Black Lantern, taunts Mera with Aquababy’s reanimated corpse.
Black Manta cemented himself as one of DC’s wickedest villains. Most of Aquaman’s Rogue’s Gallery are horrified with Manta for Aquababy’s murder – particularly the Ocean Master, Orm. While Orm maintains a strong hatred for his brother, Aquaman, he has grown fond of Arthur Junior.
Why We Probably won’t see this in the Aquaman Sequel.
Jason Momoa has expressed a desire to see Aquababy in an Aquaman sequel, and while this is possible, it probably won’t extend to the character’s death.
Often, studios shy away from depicting the very darkest comic book stories onscreen. The entertainment industry in general shies away from the onscreen death of any child, except when strictly necessary. Such a thing could be a nightmare to get past sensors.
The death of an infant would be even less likely to make it through. In addition, it would up the film’s rating to a level DC may not yet be ready to risk, especially not when the first film is doing so well at PG-13.
The Aquaman sequel will need to find another way to show the heights of Black Manta’s villainy.