It turned out that Black Panther 2 director Ryan Coogler was quite eager to get his hands on a certain member of the highly-antcipated sequel’s supporting cast.
Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will bring some new elements into the fold. Most notably, the MCU’s new Black Panther will take center stage, but as with every Marvel Studios project, the heroes need a villain to fight.
Enter Namor in Black Panther 2. Reportedly not as much of a villain as he is simply an antagonist, the underwater mutant has beef with the people of Wakanda in the new film. This results in Namor coming to the surface and wreaking havoc on the African nation, as seen in trailers.
Namor and Black Panther have been frequent adversaries on the pages of the comic books, something that’s not lost on Ryan Coogler, who made a special request involving the Sub-Mariner and Black Panther 2.
Coogler Made Special Request for Namor
In an interview with Slashfilm, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever producer Nate Moore revealed that the film’s director Ryan Coogler successfully attempted to secure the ability to use the Namor character in a Black Panther film. He did this way back in 2017 during post-production on the original Black Panther movie.
“Ryan is a huge fan of comic books, and in publishing, Namor and Atlantis often would come in conflict with Wakanda and the Black Panther. And so even as early as in post-production on the first movie, he was like, ‘If we get so lucky, could we maybe, could I just raise my hand and make sure no one uses Namor?’ And luckily, nobody was, and he had a great idea for it very early on. So we started building towards that idea, which I think is really fun.”
Obviously, Namor didn’t appear in 2018’s Black Panther, but Coogler was fortunate that no other MCU director had asked to use the character in one of their projects. This, of course, freed him up for use in the sequel.
Moore also praised Coogler’s knack for developing antagonists for his films that possess a great deal of nuance, Namor included. The producer notes that Namor’s motivation in Wakanda Forever is to “protect his people,” even if that puts him at odds with other factions.
“I think Ryan is such an intuitive filmmaker and sensitive person that he doesn’t see villains, really. He just sees people who are acting in either their self-interest or in this case, the self-interest of a people whose methods might be wrong but whose point of view is right to them. I think that’s smart. I think the best villains are the heroes in their own minds, and Namor is no different. What he is doing in this film is all in an effort to protect his people from having to go through a trauma that is generational.”
Finally, Nate Moore discussed actor Tenoch Huerta’s take on Namor and what he brought to the character that helped audiences know what makes him tick.
“It isn’t just, ‘I want to take over the world,’ which is sort of not a real motivation, but it’s about people. He is a ruler who cares for his people very deeply. And Tenoch Huerta, I think, embodied that. And there’s a scene in the film where you see him lose one of his people and how much that impacts him. That’s an important scene because you realize, ‘Oh, this isn’t a guy who’s doing this for no reason. It’s because he cares.’”
Namor’s Antihero Attitude
In the comics, Namor is quite often portrayed as an antihero - a main character who isn’t depicted as having traditionally heroic qualities but still acts in the name of good. The MCU’s version of Namor seems to be embodying this take as well.
He wants to protect the people under his rule, but the way he goes about seems to be violent and excessive. Wakanda is seen being flooded in various promotional materials for Black Panther 2, and Namor is the extremely likely culprit.
Still, as his story progresses, Namor could become more of a heroic character as the MCU continues forward. Some have even speculated that a far more sinister force is pulling his strings in the film, but that, of course, remains to be seen.
Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever lands in theaters starting Friday, November 11.