Spoilers for Black Panther
With some of T'Challa's greatest villains already wiped off the board after the hero's first solo outing, Black Panther 2 may just be the perfect film to bring Namor into the MCU as a new antagonist. Black Panther is a massive hit, and a sequel won't take long to emerge. But while many of T'Challa's allies are sure to be back, the big question now is what sort of foes will they face. For some time, it seemed as if the first film in the Black Panther franchise would suffer from the dreaded issue of too many villains. Early on, it was clear Michael B. Jordan's Erik Killmonger and Andy Serkis' Ulysses Klaue would both be butting heads with the newly crowned King T'Challa. But the first teaser for the film also featured M'Baku (Winston Duke) as another vying for the throne.
As time went on, we heard from the minds behind the film that Klaue was the true villain of Black Panther, as it appeared Killmonger would be more of a sympathetic antagonist. In the end, the story employed each of T'Challa's foes masterfully and Killmonger proved to be the key foe for the new king. But with Killmonger and Klaue both failing to make it out of the film alive and M'Baku seemingly on T'Challa's side, not many of the big names left from the comics have an adversarial history with Black Panther. Luckily, one of Wakanda's biggest enemies is a character fans have been anxious to see for years: Namor the Sub-Mariner.
This Page: Black Panther Used T'Challa's Biggest Villains
Black Panther Used Up T'Challa's Biggest Villains
While the fate of Killmonger in Black Panther has thematic resonance and provides the character with a sympathetic arc, Klaue's death was another example of Marvel killing off villains they're done with at the moment. Like Crossbones, Klaue could have easily escaped to torment the MCU another day, especially if Killmonger had delivered him to W'Kabi as a prisoner rather than a corpse. Even better, his demise could have involved his sonic canon malfunctioning in some way, thus setting up his return as a villain composed of sound in the future.
Outside of Killmonger and Klaue, M'Baku—aka Man-Ape in the comics—has regularly vexed Black Panther. He began life as an Avengers villain before becoming a thorn in T'Challa's side thanks to his ruling of the Jabari Mountain Clan. But after M'Baku suffers his defeat at the hands of T'Challa in the MCU, it's clear he's no longer a threat to the king. While more threats from inside Wakanda certainly have precedence in the comics, some of the most intriguing ones from a story standpoint follow another devastating attack from the outside. Just as Klaue's initial raid on Wakanda changed the kingdom forever, so too did the invasion of Atlantis as lead by Namor. And if the MCU can bring some of that arc to life, the future of the Black Panther franchise will be unlike anything we've seen so far.
Namor Would Be Perfect For Black Panther 2's Story
As Marvel built towards its first Civil War arc in the comics, Brian Michael Bendis introduced the Illuminati in the pages of New Avengers. Comprised of some of the greatest minds in the Marvel Universe, the group secretly gathered to determine the fate of the world by making calls they knew others wouldn't. Namor, though not on the level of Tony Stark, Reed Richards, and Professor X, was nevertheless part of the original organization. Following Civil War, Marvel eventually introduced the Avengers vs X-Men arc that saw Namor attack Wakanda, where a number of Avengers were hiding out. Temporarily imbued with part of the Phoenix Force (as happens to some mutants from time to time), Namor brought massive tidal waves and the army of Atlantis down on the African nation. Though he was eventually defeated, untold citizens of Wakanda were killed in the process and things would never be the same.
Namor's strength and the force of his army would provide a powerful enemy for T'Challa and Wakanda in the MCU, and the results of the invasion could have ramifications for years to come. In fact, following Namor's defeat in the comics he is eventually brought back into the fold when T'Challa reforms the Illuminati to address the death of the Multiverse. Avengers: Infinity War is drawing from Jonathan Hickman's comics that led to Secret Wars, so some take on this story could lay the foundation for a similar arc in the Black Panther franchise.
Namor's attack was devastating enough, but Black Panther working with the Atlantean after the fact leads to his Dora Milaje abandoning him, his people revolting, and Wakanda shifting towards democracy. All of this has played out in Ta-Nehisi Coates' run of Black Panther and is bound to influence the upcoming movies. All the franchise really needs is the introduction of Namor. The only problem is an all too familiar question of character's rights.
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