Ryan Coogler Says ‘Aquaman’ Paved the Way for ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ to Introduce Namor

Coogler praised the DC film for providing "a great bit of indirect guidance" for his nautical villain.
"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"
"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"
©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is sitting comfortably at the top of the box office, proving that the difficult transition away from the late Chadwick Boseman hasn’t dulled fans’ enthusiasm for the people of Wakanda. In addition to devoting more attention to the original film’s supporting cast, the movie also marks the MCU debut of a major new villain: Namor, played by Tenoch Huerta.

The aquatic villain has been a fixture in Marvel comics for years, but never hit the big screen due to a combination of rights disputes and Marvel Studios prioritizing other villains. But director Ryan Coogler was thrilled to bring the character to life.

In a new interview with Uproxx, Coogler spoke about the process of developing Namor. He credits Jason Momoa’s performance as Aquaman in the DC universe with proving that there was a major market for underwater comic book characters.

“I do think that having Aquaman out in the world, in film language, and being successful in the marketplace, I think it was a great bit of indirect guidance for us to lean into the things that made Namor different from Aquaman,” Coogler said. “Just out of respect to the audience because a lot of people saw that movie. A lot of people love that movie. It was our task to, obviously, put our heads down and blinders on and make our movie, but also have a sense of awareness of what the marketplace might want to respond to, and might be interested in. I think giving people something different, if you can give somebody something good, that’s also unique, I think it’s always better. We wanted to lean into the things that make those two characters different from each other because they have a lot of other similarities in publishing.”

Coogler elaborated on Namor in a recent interview with IndieWire’s Anne Thompson, explaining that he pulled from classic mythology to craft the villain’s character arc.

“He’s an archetypal male character that you find in fiction and in myth, who are long-lived but still in a point of arrested development,” Coogler said. “He had to be this guy who’s very wise and exceptionally powerful, but also due to a trauma that happened to him when he was relatively young, his view of the world has crystallized. He’s a character who leans into his trauma, who owns it, and is comfortable existing in a state of perpetual grief.”

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is now playing in theaters. 

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