By: Eammon Jacobs
Director Ryan Coogler has an incredibly tough job in following up his 2018 Black Panther solo movie after the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman – but if a new rumour is to be believed, then he’s expanding his corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a big way. As reported by notable scoopers The Illuminerdi, it seems like the highly-anticipated sequel will introduce one of Marvel’s oldest heroes: Namor the Sub-Mariner.
Last year, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Narcos: Mexico star Tenoch Huerta was in talks to join the sequel in a villain role, although no other details surfaced at the time. But this latest rumour suggests Huerta will take a dive to play the first live-action version of Namor – also meaning that Coogler might introduce yet another hidden kingdom in the MCU, Atlantis.
For the moment, it’s still not clear how the Black Panther sequel will address the loss of Boseman, but introducing Namor could be an interesting way of looking at the potential power vacuum left behind in Wakanda.
Many fans assume that Coogler will simply pass the Black Panther mantle over to Letitia Wright’s Shuri (T’Challa’s sister) and what better way of throwing her in the deep end than pitting her against another super-powered monarch?
And it’s not like this is the first time theories about Namor’s appearance in the MCU have sent fans into a frenzy. Back in the fledgling, Paramount days of Marvel Studios, a S.H.I.E.L.D. world map in the background of an Iron Man 2 scene circled a random spot in the ocean off the western coast of Africa – with many taking it as a subtle reference to the underwater nation of Atlantis.
Fast-forward to 2019 in Avengers: Endgame and Wakandan warrior Okoye (Danai Gurira) updated the team on an underwater earthquake that also happened a few miles off the coast, putting it within reasonable distance from Wakanda. However, she was careful to note that they “handle it by not handling it”, clearly being cautious of the situation. It’s not clear whether the Wakandans are aware of Atlantis in the MCU, but with their advanced level of technology it would be highly surprising if they weren’t.
But is there anything to back up the report from The Illuminerdi? Well, the site also claims that earlier casting news over two ‘Mayan warriors’ named Cadmael and Zyanya was actually misdirection, and they’re codenames for two supporting Atlantean characters; Attuma and Namora. Attuma is a vicious barbarian who is part of an exiled sect of Atlanteans because of their anti-royalist views, and he often tries to overthrow Namor and take the crown for himself. Meanwhile, Namora is Namor’s cousin (not by blood) and it’s been teased that they have a closer, romantic relationship.
The Illuminerdi didn’t offer any supposed plot details about how the trio of Atlanteans might factor into Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but as we already mentioned, early reports labelled Huerta’s role as an antagonist in the story. If Attuma does appear, he probably won’t attempt a coup in Atlantis, since that would be a rehash of the first film with Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger. So it’ll be interesting to see what puts Namor on a collision course with the Wakandans if he does indeed show up.
And did we mention this would be a sneaky way of introducing mutants into the MCU? Sure, the King of Atlantis wasn’t actually intended to be a mutant with the X-gene when he debuted in Marvel Comics #1 in 1939, but the company retroactively made him one in 1963 when he faced off with Reed Richards and his family during Fantastic Four Annual #1. Much like Aquaman over on the DC Comics side of things, Namor reigns over Atlantis and often clashes with humanity over the way it treats the oceans. But he has often aided the Avengers and the X-Men against various threats.
So, if Tenoch Huerta will indeed suit up as Namor in the MCU, it could lead to much bigger ramifications further down the line. Does he know any other mutants out in the world? Has he come across a certain X-citing team? Who knows? Obviously the only real question is whether Kevin Feige makes the star wear Namor’s classic seaweed pants…