There are so many prequels, sequels, spin-offs, and reboots these days that it’s almost impossible to keep track. For all the follow-up projects that do get greenlit, there are just as many that don’t get off the ground despite initial reports of interest. There can be good reason for that, like that the subject matter just isn’t worthy of a feature-length film, but all isn’t always as it seems. In the case of the Trench spin-off from James Wan’s Aquaman that was rumored to be coming next in 2019 and then reported to have been cancelled back in April, the sea creatures weren’t actually meant to be the focus.
Thanks to an Instagram post by Wan about Black Manta’s costume and production design, fans are now aware of the real story of the spinoff, as reported by The AV Club. Responding to a question about whether Black Manta could get his own TV series on HBO Max like Peacemaker did after The Suicide Squad was released, Wan revealed something else in the comments: “I’ll let you in on a secret, the canceled Trench spin-off movie was really going to be a secret Black Manta movie.”
Black Manta is a villain played by actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who recently starred as Bobby Seale in The Trial of the Chicago 7 and won an Emmy for his role in HBO’s Watchmen limited series. Black Manta appeared in the first Aquaman movie in 2018 and will again star in the forthcoming sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which is set to be released on December 16th, 2022.
There wasn’t much enthusiasm for a film about the Trench, described by The AV Club as “mindless sea creatures,” with the project deemed “one of the most inexplicable ideas for a comic book movie in the history of comic book movies” by the outlet. Black Manta, on the other hand, is a far more widely appealing protagonist, and had the true intentions of the project been known, fan support might have been strong enough to ensure that it got made.