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Why Marvel Fans Won't Be Seeing A Namor Standalone Movie Anytime Soon

Warning: Spoilers for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." 

Marvel Studios has another massive hit on their hands with the release of "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." The highly-anticipated sequel had huge shoes to fill following the Oscar award-winning performance of the first film. While it is still to be determined if "Wakanda Forever" will nab any award-season nominations, the movie is already a critical and commercial success, earning over 600 million at the worldwide box office and gaining a certified fresh 84% on Rotten Tomatoes

In typical Marvel fashion, "Wakanda Forever" advances the story of the Black Panther, with Shuri (Letitia Wright) receiving the mantle after T'Challa's (Chadwick Boseman) death, while also introducing new characters and concepts to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. "Wakanda Forever" succeeds with its two character introductions, Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) and Namor (Tenoch Huerta), as both newcomers steal the show in many of their scenes. Namor serves as the movie's primary antagonist, attacking Wakanda to protect his people and remain a secret from the rest of the world. Following the movie's events, Namor and Shuri broker peace, ending the bloodshed between the two nations. 

While many MCU villains tend not to make it out alive, Namor's fate is a welcome change of pace. His ending leaves the door open for his return in future Marvel projects, as he still plans on waging war against the surface world someday. However, a Namor solo movie may not be that easy to make.

Namor's movie rights are tied up with Universal

Long before Marvel Studios dominated the box office, the company flirted with bankruptcy many times. At the time, Marvel hadn't entered the film industry, leading them to sell off the movie rights to many of their popular characters. Spider-Man went to Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox acquired the Fantastic Four and X-Men rights, and Universal Pictures got the Hulk and Marvel Studios' latest scene-stealer, Namor. 

In a detailed report by TheWrap, the media outlet broke down the situation surrounding what Marvel Studios can and can't legally do with The Sub-Mariner. While many fans want the character to get the spinoff treatment after "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," that's currently not possible for the studio, according to producer Nate Moore. In a similar situation to the Hulk, Marvel Studios has complete control over Namor's story in the MCU, but Disney cannot produce a standalone project for the character. 

That said, the studio can still use the character whenever they see fit, as long as he's part of an ensemble. It seems that Namor's return to the MCU is inevitable, but the studio's use of the character will more than likely mirror their use of the Hulk. After 2008's "The Incredible Hulk," a joint project with Universal, Marvel Studios gave Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) a compelling storyline without a standalone movie. Instead, they elected to expand on the character throughout many "Avengers" movies and "Thor: Ragnarok."

Where could we see Namor next?

Barring any unforeseen acquisition by Disney, fans won't be getting a Namor solo movie anytime soon, but that doesn't mean Marvel Studios isn't planning big things for the character. Like the Hulk, the studio will need to explore Namor's character arc throughout numerous films, assuming there's no change in their deal with Universal Pictures. Given Marvel Studios' upcoming release schedule, Namor's next appearance is most likely in 2025's "Avengers: The Kang Dynasty." If not, then the character will absolutely appear in 2026's "Avengers: Secret Wars," which will look to be even bigger than "Avengers: Endgame." If not on the big screen, Namor could return on Disney+ for Marvel's still-untitled Wakanda series. There's been no update on or official announcement of the series since Deadline's initial report in 2021, but given the success of "Wakanda Forever," the studio could fast-track its development. 

When asked about a potential Namor solo movie by @namorcosplay at the "Wakanda Forever" premiere, Kevin Feige stated that it depended on the character's reception and the film's success. Namor actor Tenoch Huerta is eager to reprise the role, telling Total Film that the possibilities are endless for him in the MCU given the character's rich comic book history (via The Direct).