Despite having been around since 1939, debuting roughly a year and a half ahead of Captain America and little over half a year after Batman hit the scene, Namor the Sub-Mariner has never been depicted in live-action. That will finally change this November, as The Forever Purge’s Tenoch Huerta is starring as Namor in Black Panther 2, a.k.a. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. While we’ve known for months that Huerta’s Namor will serve as the upcoming Marvel movie’s main antagonist, the actor has confirmed another key detail about the MCU’s incarnation of the character: he is a mutant.
Namor the Sub-Mariner has frequently been called “Marvel’s first mutant” in the comics, in terms of the company’s publication history, not literally being the oldest mutant in the Marvel mythology (Wolverine and Apocalypse, among others, have him beat in that category). Since Marvel Studios now has the ability to incorporate mutants in the MCU following Disney’s acquisition of Fox, which had been holding the film rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four, it would have been easy enough to make the MCU’s Namor a mutant in the MCU, and that’s just what happened, as Tenoch Huerta informed Empire.
This information follows a few months after the Ms. Marvel finale revealed that Iman Vellani’s Kamala Khan is a mutant rather than an Inhuman like in the comics. So as far as the MCU is concerned, Ms. Marvel holds the title of the franchise’s “first” mutant, it’s still good to hear that Namor’s mutant background has been retained. Although the Namor from the comics is gifted with special attributes due to his hybrid human/Atlantean physiology, his ability to fly and superior strength compared to the average Atlantean stem from the mutant gene. Had Disney and Fox not merged, these powers would have needed to come from a different source, whether it be making Namor an Inhuman or classifying him as a generic “enhanced” individual.
Ultimately that wasn’t necessary, and now we have two mutants to account for in the main MCU reality (though let’s not forget Earth-838’s Professor X, whom we met in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness). That also means we’re one step closer to the X-Men finally appearing in the superhero franchise, although right now it’s unclear when that will happen. The Phase 5 lineup is locked in and Phase 6 already has a lot in store between introducing the main Fantastic Four team and the one-two punch of Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars.
Going back to the MCU’s Namor the Sub-Mariner, we also know that Tenoch Huerta’s version is inspired by Mesoamerica culture and history, and he rules the underwater civilization of Talocan rather than Atlantis. As for why Namor is clashing with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s protagonists, it’s tied to the ramifications of T’Challa revealing how technologically advanced Wakanda is at the end of Black Panther. As Huerta explained:
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will also see Namora and Attuma, two important characters in Namor’s corner of Marvel lore, being played by Mabel Cadena and Alex Livinalli, respectively. Black Panther 2’s cast also includes Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Martin Freeman, Florence Kasumba, Dominque Thorne and Michaela Coel. The sequel comes out on November 11, and in the meantime you can use your Disney+ subscription to catch up to speed on the MCU.