Like our own universe, the MCU is forever expanding with the addition of new heroes, villains, storylines, and, now that the multiverse is in play, realities.
The onscreen comic book mythos will become even larger in the hotly-anticipated Black Panther sequel — officially subtitled Wakanda Forever — which is all set to introduce a pair of fan favorite characters to the world of live-action: Namor the Sub-Mariner (Tenoch Huerta) and Riri Williams/Ironheart (Dominique Thorne).
Thanks to Empire Magazine‘s November 2022 issue, we know that Wakanda comes into direct conflict with the underwater kingdom of Talocan (Atlantis in the comics) after King T’Challa’s address to the United Nations brings unwanted international scrutiny to both nations. “That decision puts Talocan in jeopardy and Talocan has to take action to protect themselves,” Huerta explained. Producer Nate Moore continued: “Namor goes to Wakanda with a proposition that they’ll either have to accept or endure the consequences.”
Director and co-writer Ryan Coogler has apparently been itching to introduce Namor since 2018, given the fact that Atlantis and Wakanda are often at each other’s throats in the classic source material. “Ryan had a pitch for a tag at the end of Black Panther,” Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige revealed to Empire. “The camera would push through the palace in Wakanda, and then we’d see wet footprints leading up to the throne.”
That obviously didn’t pan out, but the idea continued to linger when plans for a second movie got underway. Namor ended up making it into the screenplay penned by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, albeit with a slightly tweaked backstory inspired by the culture of Mesoamerica (in Aztec mythology, Talocan is the home of the gods). “They made a new narrative for the character that fits with the times,” Huerta added. “You can take Atlantis from Greek myth, or you can adapt from a real culture.”
While Namor and his people start off at odds with Wakanda, something tells us they’ll be joining forces before the day is done. Who might then be the ultimate antagonist of the film? Longtime Marvel fans will probably point a finger at Doctor Doom, who has had pivotal dealings with both the Black Panther and Sub-Mariner in the past. Don’t forget: the Latverian demagogue once funded a revolution in Wakanda to get his hands on vibranium. It’s not far-fetched to theorize he may be pulling the strings in Wakanda Forever.
Serving as our guide through the coming war is Riri Williams, a gifted American inventor and a relatively new hero to the Marvel canon (her comic book debut is less than a decade old). Primed to carry on the legacy of the late Tony Stark in her own TV series on Disney+, the future Ironheart seems to come to Wakanda as part of an exchange/study abroad program. “There couldn’t be a safer runway for Riri to come into her genius and her superherodom than in the world of Wakanda, which is known for Black brilliance,” Thorne said. “It’s us getting to know her as she’s getting to know this side of herself, and how she can potentially impact the world.”
“What’s fun about Riri in this film is that she’s us,” offered Feige. “She’s an American coming into this world, and she represents the point-of-view of an outsider in a very interesting way.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits the big screen Friday, Nov. 11.
Looking for more sci-fi content? Check out shows like Resident Alien, Brave New World, Project Blue Book, Eureka, Heroes, Intergalactic, and more streaming now on Peacock.
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