Prior to the formation of Marvel Studios, Marvel sold the film rights to many characters to other studios. This is what has caused the divide between the X-Men, Avengers, and previously Spider-Man from appearing on the big screen. Some other characters such as Hulk and Namor were also sold off to Universal. This has restricted Marvel Studios from making a solo Hulk film, which is why he must only appear in other people's movies (as he will do in Thor: Ragnarok). While fans are able know how and when they can see Hulk, the rights to Namor are in murkier waters.
Most recently, Joe Quesada revealed that Marvel Studios may actually have the rights back to Namor, which led to fans voicing their choice for who should play the character. Brian Tee (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows) was one of the actors to voice his interest in the role, and he has now revealed what draws him to the King of Atlantis.
Tee recently talked to Comic Book about the possibility of playing the underwater anti-hero. It is the anti-hero nature of Namor that has drawn the actor to the role. Unlike most of the other heroes in the MCU, Namor's priorities and methods are to his benefit first and foremost. While any plans about Namor joining the MCU in the near future have remained a secret, Tee continues to voice his interest if the role is to ever become available:
"You know what's funny is my career I've kind of played villains, guys with attitude, guys with chips on their shoulders, um, in reading the comics books and being a fan of Namor, that's kind of this guy's persona. Even though he's a hero or a quote unquote good guy. He's kind of a bit of an anti-hero with a bit of an edge, and I feel like I kind of fall in that line, especially with other things that I've done. So that's the kind of aspect that I would love to bring into Namor. He's not just like a good guy, you know, he's definitely got some faults of his own, but I think when it really boils down to doing the right thing he will, and you know it's Namor, it's Marvel, it's the first Mutant, it's everything you can kind of dreamed of as a kid and wanted to portray, and so I would absolutely love and be honored to play him if the time does come around, and I thank you guys for the movement!"
Namor is one of the older and untapped characters from Marvel comics that is waiting to be adapted to the big screen, but Quesada is the only person to say Marvel Studios has the character's rights back. Even if the rights have reverted back to Marvel Studios, there has been very little indication that he could make an appearance anytime soon. The Russo brothers recently named Namor as a character they would love to see introduced in the MCU, but also noted the challenges that could come with making him a standalone hero.
If Marvel Studios does have plans to introduce Namor sooner rather than later, they could simply be waiting for a few other films to come out and gauge the audiences receptiveness to an underwater world. Warner Bros and DC Films will be testing this out in 2018 with Aquaman and parts of James Cameron's next four Avatar movies will take place underwater as well. Marvel Studios could be sitting back to see how good or bad this works and then improve upon techniques in their own movie.
Even though Tee is expressing interest in the role, there is no chance a Namor movie comes out before 2020. That is a lot of time to sit around and wait for the role. If the rights are truly back under Marvel's umbrella, a supporting role in another upcoming film could be in the cards.
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Untitled Avengers – May 3, 2019; and as-yet-untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.
Header artwork by Boss Logic