How Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Sets Up Namor's Future In The MCU

Spoilers for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" follow.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is an unprecedented experiment in film, an interconnected universe with dozens of different characters and stories, woven together to make a huge tapestry. But that tapestry is not without flaws. Though the interconnectedness has mostly applied to the heroes — who go on to get sequels before meeting up with other heroes in the big Avengers events — the same cannot be same for the villains. Indeed, Marvel has long had a villain problem, with the vast majority of their antagonists never making it past their introduction. Sure, there are exceptions, and most of them are set to return for "Thunderbolts." Outside of them, however, we haven't had many villains make it out of their first film alive, let alone with a promising future. 

But things change with "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." The film does a lot of things right, from its exploration of grief to the political ramifications of Wakanda revealing itself to a world that can't wait to get its hands on that sweet vibranium. One of the film's biggest accomplishments is introducing an entirely new kingdom, as well as giving a major comics character his feature debut. That's right, we're talking about K'uk'ulkan, aka Namor the Sub-Mariner, king of Talokan. Not only is he a formidable threat to Wakanda, but a fascinating character with some rather good points. More importantly, he is alive and thriving by the end of the film, making us wonder ... what comes next?

Imperius Rex

By the end of "Wakanda Forever," Namor is not really a hero, but he's not a villain either. He's struck a peace with Wakanda, and is just biding his time until war strikes between the surface world and the African kingdom before he comes in and conquers everyone else. Though it seems unlikely Namor will yet again serve as an antagonist with a desire for conquest, we'll definitely see him revealing himself to the surface world sooner rather than later.

When the world finds out about Namor and he is forced to be a proper part of the MCU, what role will he play? Now, in the comics, Namor has often worked alongside the Avengers and other heroes groups, but because we're only seeing him join the fold now, we'll sadly never get to see K'uk'ulkan butt heads with the likes of Tony Stark or Steve Rogers. This is one downside of the way the MCU has grown and steadily introduced more heroes — we miss the chance to see some genuinely cool character interactions, like seeing T'Challa talk to Tony Stark. When it comes to Namor, we still have a chance to see him reluctantly join the Avengers, and most likely try to assert dominance by fighting (and beating, have you seen his pecs?) both Hulk and Thor. 

Namor the antagonist

Making that scenario even funnier is the fact that most of the current Marvel heroes are rather young, and quite a few of them are still teenagers. It would be one thing to picture Namor trying to assert control over the old guard, but let's just picture him serving as a mentor to the likes of Peter Parker, Kate Bishop, or Kamala Khan. For a 500-year-old king, it'd be like leading a group of actual babies, and given how often he's frowning, it would be delightful to see him deal with a group of rather cheerful young Avengers.

What makes Namor special in the comics is how often he swaps sides and acts as both hero and villain. Not only is Namor Marvel's first mutant, but he's its first antihero too. The Sub-Mariner has fought both with and against the Avengers. He's also been a part of both the Illuminati and its evil counterpart, The Cabal. And he's been a part of the Fantastic Four as often as he's allied himself with Doctor Doom. "Wakanda Forever" honors that tradition by making Namor both friend and foe, a man you cannot fully trust, but don't want as an enemy either. 

This is a quality that should carry onto his next appearance. We already have hints of Victor von Doom in the film, so if we're building up to "Avengers: Secret Wars," the two sovereigns should plan a meeting sooner rather than later. Whatever happens, Namor's future is full of possibilities.