Black Panther: Wakanda Forever director Ryan Coogler assures that with the introduction of Namor (Tenoch Huerta), the Marvel Cinematic Universe has a new Avengers-level powerhouse on its hands.
"[There's] no equal in terms of his capabilities, being able to breathe underwater and breathe at high altitudes and walk around on land," Coogler said in an interview with Marvel. "He's incredibly strong, he's as strong as Thor, and if he's around enough water he can be as strong as the Hulk."
Meanwhile, Wakanda Forever producer Nate Moore spoke to Namor's motivations, and how they put him at odds with the nation of Wakanda. "He's not interested in ruing the world for power," Moore said of Huerta's water-breathing mutant. "He's not interested in money. He's interested in protecting his people. And what's more altruistic than that?"
As Marvel explains, Namor's goal of keeping his underwater kingdom, Talocan, secret and safe from the outside world makes him a natural foil to Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright). Since the whole world now knows about Wakanda following 2018's Black Panther, Namor is concerned that Talocan may follow suit. "Here is a man who believes 100 percent that he is the hero in his own story," Moore told Marvel. "He doesn't see himself as a villain because in Namor's eyes what he is doing he's doing to protect a people who have already made it through a tragic history."
Huerta himself added, "For me, he's just a hero. It's not my job to think about how the world or the other characters look at him. How they perceive to him it's not my job. My job is he has a strong motivation. He has a clear path, and he knows why it's important. He's trying to protect himself and protect all his culture and his people from the exterior world, from the colonialism who is tempt him against their values and the whole culture."
Created by Bill Everett, Namor (also known as the Sub-Mariner) first appeared in the uncirculated Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1, cover-dated April 1939. He made his first appearance for Timely Comics (the publisher that would later become Marvel) in Marvel Comics #1, released August 1939. In addition to being Marvel's original mutant, Namor arguably hold the distinction of being the very first comic book anti-hero.
Namor's MCU debut has been a very long time coming. Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige recently revealed that the studio first commissioned a script for a film starring the Sub-Mariner 18 years ago, though "the timing was never right and the idea was never right." However, while working on the first Black Panther movie, Coogler began pitching a war between Wakanda and Atlantis (the latter of which was ultimately re-imagined as Talocan). Notably, Black Panther and Namor have a storied rivalry in the original Marvel comic books.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens in theaters on Friday, Nov. 11.