Like most superhero movies, Aquaman offers a hint of the future in a mid-credits bonus scene. After a big spoiler warning, let’s dive right in.
David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), one of the movie’s secondary villains, leads a team of pirates who hijack a Russian submarine early in the movie. His father, Jesse (Michael Beach), is part of that team whose efforts fail after Aquaman (Jason Momoa) intervenes to rescue the sub’s crew.
After the Kanes attack Aquaman, he leaves a trapped Jesse to die and David swears revenge. He makes an alliance with the movie’s main villain, King Orm (Patrick Wilson), to get his hands on Atlantean technology that’ll make him a match for Aquaman and takes the name Black Manta.
Later, Manta leads a team of Atlantean commandos tasked with taking out Aquaman and his ally Mera (Amber Heard) in Sicily, but he’s defeated and thrown off a cliff to a watery fate.
However, the mid-credits scene reveals that an unconscious Manta is rescued by people on a boat. We learn he was saved by Dr. Stephen Shin (Randall Park), who’s seen ranting about Atlantis to a disbelieving audience on TV a few times during the movie.
A recuperating Manta agrees to lead Shin to Atlantis in exchange for the scientist’s help in finding and killing Aquaman.
It’s a pretty obvious bit of sequel setup, but it’d make sense given how much development Manta is given in this movie and how little payoff we get — he basically fights Aquaman in costume once and is badly beaten.
He could appear in an Aquaman sequel (which hasn’t been announced yet) or a team up with other villains in the followup to 2016’s Suicide Squad (which is being written by former Marvel director James Gunn).
‘He has an opportunity to show up anywhere where Aquaman is,’ Abdul-Mateen II told CNET sister site Comicbook.com. ‘Anywhere where he has a device or plot to get back to Aquaman, he’s going to use it. So, he can show up wherever.
In the same interview, the actor noted he’d like to see more of the comedic elements of the character, who first appeared in Aquaman No. 35 back in 1967, in a future appearance.