With Namor the Sub-Mariner finally making his cinematic debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Kevin Feige explains why it took so long.
Kevin Feige explains why it took so long for Namor to reach the big screen and how Ryan Coogler set him up to appear in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Before Feige was a major player at Marvel Studios, Avi Arad ran the company and helped cement multiple Marvel characters as household names for a new generation. As Arad didn’t believe that a shared cinematic universe could work at the time, the film rights to several characters were sold off to different studios who all had their own ideas on how to adapt the characters. One Marvel character who would remain stuck in development limbo for years was Namor, the Sub-Mariner.
A Namor movie had been in development as far back as 1997 with Universal Pictures behind the production. The intent was to tell an environmental story about Namor trying to save Atlantis from pollution and nuclear underwater testing. Filmmakers such as Philip Kaufman, Chris Columbus, and Jonathan Mostow were all attached to direct at some point, but none of them stayed on. The Namor project fell apart, and ownership of the film rights were stuck in limbo with neither Universal, nor Marvel Studios truly in control over who got to adapt the story of the underwater prince. It would take another couple of years before it was announced that Namor would appear in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, played by Tenoch Huerta.
At the red carpet premiere of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Kevin Feige spoke to reporters from Marvel Entertainment about Namor’s long journey to the big screen. While he certainly had a hand in the final decision, he also gave credit to director Ryan Coogler for deciding to introduce the character in the Black Panther sequel and to give him a stronger ethnic identity. Feige said:
Namor as the Marvel fans know, is of one, if not the original… and so that, forever, has been on our lists. I remember 18 years ago putting together, I think we even commissioned a script 18 years ago, and the timing was never right and the idea was never right. Ryan Coogler on the first movie starting pitching a war between kingdoms. And if you actually added cultural specificity to Namor, and that’s certainly what he’s done in this movie, and it’s not Atlantis it’s Talocan and I can’t wait for people to meet the Talocaneal and Namor.
Why Namor Was Worth The Wait
As one of the oldest Marvel characters, it seemed less a matter of if and more of when Namor would join the MCU. Speculation has long run rampant over when he might be introduced into the franchise, with many jumping on a simple line from Avengers: Endgame as proof that he existed within the world. However, in waiting until now to introduce him, Marvel has built up excitement for Namor’s debut, making his arrival in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever a truly thrilling event. Early reactions for the film indicate Namor is a highlight of Wakanda Forever, and it sounds like it is partially due to the cultural specificity Coolger sought to bring to the character. If it took this long for Marvel to find a story and a filmmaker who could do Namor justice, then the wait was likely worth it.
Having Namor debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was the right move for Marvel. While the Sub-Mariner is a major character within comics lore, his background and character would have been difficult to pull off in a solo outing. Incorporating him as an antagonist, especially much farther along in the MCU’s run, allowed for the filmmakers to come up with a new and unique depiction of Namor without having him be portrayed as simply Marvel’s version of Aquaman. Huerta already looks intimidating as the sea-based anti-hero, and it is likely only a matter of time before Marvel develops more projects for him.
Source: Marvel Entertainment