Kevin Feige Has Been Trying To Get Black Panther 2's Namor Onscreen Since Before The MCU

The inclusion of Namor (as played by Tenoch Huerta) in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" can mean very different things depending on where you're coming from. If you're well-versed in the history of Marvel Comics, then you're likely aware the Sub-Mariner has been around since the Golden Age of comic books and has gone through varying iterations since his creation in 1939, ranging from a grumpy do-gooder to a hot-tempered antihero. Alternatively, you may only know Namor for being Marvel's "not-Aquaman," a half-human, half-merfolk weirdo with mutant flying powers who's apparently too busy being irascible to put on anything but a pair of green swimming trunks.

Attempts to adapt Namor for the big screen in live-action date back to the late 1990s, at which time Philip Kaufman — the director of films as wildly divergent as the despondent 1978 "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" remake and the sexually subversive "Quills" — was in charge of the project. It wasn't until the early 2000s that Marvel Studios President and definitely-not-a-robot Kevin Feige got involved in producing a "Namor" movie thanks to a deal between Marvel and Universal. Nearly 20 years later, the Sub-Mariner is finally arriving on the big screen as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks to the "Black Panther" sequel.

"Namor, as the Marvel fans know, is one of, if not the original [Marvel characters] – the Human Torch, right, almost at the same time – and so forever, it's been on our lists," said Feige, speaking at the world premiere for "Wakanda Forever." He continued, "I remember, you know, 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."

Namor's journey to the big screen took some time

Namor's long journey to the big screen was due to several factors. Progress on the "Namor" film at Universal was no doubt impeded by Ang Lee's "Hulk," a boldly strange vision, yet also one that was far from the box office home run Universal desired. Jonathan Mostow, then fresh off directing the thrilling if utterly inaccurate WWII submarine flick "U-571," was among those attached to helm the film in the '00s and seemed to be making progress as late as 2009. But by that point, as we all know, the MCU was quickly taking off and the project would soon fall into limbo as Marvel and Universal spent years jostling for the movie rights to Namor.

Much like Feige, "Wakanda Forever" co-writer and director Ryan Coogler did his part to get Namor into the MCU once the rights issues had been squared away. Speaking at the "Wakanda Forever" premiere, Feige confirmed that the sequel's plot about "a war between the kingdoms" was actually an idea Coogler started pitching while making the first "Black Panther" movie. This, in turn, got the wheels spinning on the character's re-imagining for the MCU. Feige added:

"And if you actually added a cultural specificity to Namor, and that's certainly what [Coogler's] done in this movie – it's not Atlantis, it's Talocan – and I can't wait for people to meet the Talocanians and Namor."

Early reactions to "Wakanda Forever" suggest the film works as both a moving tribute to T'Challa himself (the late Chadwick Boseman) and an exciting MCU debut for Namor, which is certainly encouraging to read after the Sub-Mariner's trek getting there. We shall see if that remains the consensus after the movie opens in theaters on November 11, 2022.