When Black Panther arrived in theaters in 2018, not only was it one of Marvel Studios' most successful films to date, but it also impacted culture and society in a way that few blockbusters have. Following up this landmark film was a tall order to begin with, but Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was then confronted with Chadwick Boseman's passing, followed by COVID-19. Black Panther 2 was always going to be an important film; the fact that the sequel still exists is a miracle.
Set to release in theaters on November 11, Wakanda Forever reunites director Ryan Coogler with much of his original cast, including Letitia Wright as Shuri, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Danai Gurira as Okoye, and Winston Duke as M'Baku.
But just like how 2018's Black Panther explored the hidden society of Wakanda and themes of loss and leadership, Wakanda Forever is expected to do the same in introducing Atlantis and a new MCU villain: Namor the Sub-Mariner.
Black Panther 2's Namor the Submariner Explained
During Marvel Studios' Hall H presentation at the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con, the studio revealed its first official footage of Namor the Sub-Mariner in the trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
In the comics, Namor's full name was Namor McKenzie, as he was born to a human father and the princess of the kingdom of Atlantis. Capable of living on both land and sea, Namor's heritage. coupled with his superhuman abilities, led him to be labeled by Marvel Comics as "Marvel's first mutant."
During production for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, it was long expected that Marvel Studios would offer a fresh new version of this Atlantean leader and his underwater kingdom - and the film's debut trailer confirmed just that.
For Marvel Studios' live-action version of Namor the Sub-Mariner, Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta was cast in the role.
Throughout his comic book run, which began as early as 1939, Namor has often been portrayed as a well-intentioned antihero, and as the film appears to show Atlantis and Wakanda at war, it seems that tradition will continue with Huerta.
In addition to a few quick glimpses of the actor, the trailer appeared to show flashback sequences - one of which appears to be Namor being born with his comic-accurate ankle wings - while another shows a young Namor watching buildings burn.
Marvel fans first learned that the MCU's take on Atlantis would be inspired by Aztec culture when gifts for the Black Panther 2 crew included a hat embroidered with Aztec iconography, which appeared to depict a jaguar or Tepeyollotli, the Aztec God of darkened caves, earthquakes, echoes, and jaguars.
The image below of Namor in a ceremonial headdress is official evidence of Marvel Studios' change to the Sub-Mariner and that Marvel audiences will be in for more world-building rooted in cultural history in Wakanda Forever.
In another shot from the trailer, Huerta's Namor, still sporting his ankle wings, appears to be flanked by blue-skinned Atlanteans.
This is similar to the comics where the Atlanteans had blue-colored skin and Namor did not, due to his father being human.
Whether Namor's heritage and the look of the Atlanteans will be adapted for this film, or if the Atlanteans are wearing war paint, remains to be seen.
What is clear, however, is the impending battle between Wakanda and Atlantis which, again, has a sort of precedent in the comics.
Namor and T'Challa had a complicated relationship. While the two clashed at times, particularly in terms of politics, they did team up to hunt down traitors to the kingdoms and locate missing subjects.
While conflict is expected in Wakanda Forever, that doesn't mean MCU fans might see Namor and the future leader (or leaders) of Wakanda form a similar relationship by the film's conclusion.
The full trailer featuring footage of Namor can be seen below:
Will Namor Survive Black Panther 2?
In the rankings of MCU villains, Michael B. Jordan's Erik Killmonger is often at the top because he's not entirely wrong, and he knows it. Even though he didn't survive Black Panther, his actions shaped T'Challa personally and changed how he ruled Wakanda.
While introducing a new, relatable villain is a challenge, it appears to be one Black Panther 2 has embraced in introducing the antihero Namor. In fact, rumors suggest that Marvel Studios has big plans for the Sub-Mariner that extend beyond the November sequel, and that potentially could lead to a franchise.
Even though war is on the horizon in Wakanda Forever, this news implies that there will be some sort of resolution between Wakanda and Atlantis, and Namor will survive this emotional film.
In the meantime, it will be interesting to see whether future trailers and teasers will reveal more about Namor's heritage and how he's been adapted from the comics, and how his villainous role in the long-anticipated sequel will play into Wakanda's struggle for survival in Black Panther 2.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will debut in theaters on November 11.