The fate of Namor (Tenoch Huerta) in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever avoids a recurring issue with the villains in the MCU. The Black Panther sequel sees Wakanda under threat from the world’s governments and the underwater kingdom of Talokan in the aftermath of the death of King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman). However, unlike many of his villainous predecessors, Namor survives to the end credits, and even sets up a fragile peace with Wakanda, which sets him up as a potential ally, rather than antagonist in future movies. Villains in the MCU very rarely make it to the closing credits of the films they appear in, which can be a problem.
Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), for example, was a terrifying and fascinating new villain for the MCU, who was given a character arc that could only go in one direction. Avengers movie villains like Kang, Loki, and Thanos have all survived multiple outings due to their position as the big bad of their respective Phases. However, other villains tend to get a “one and done” outing, which can often make it hard for the characters to make a lasting impression after the end credits have rolled. Thankfully, Namor avoids this issue in Wakanda Forever by being one of the most compelling antagonists of the MCU thus far.
Due to the tragic circumstances of Chadwick Boseman’s untimely death, Wakanda Forever essentially becomes an origin story for the new Black Panther, Shuri (Letitia Wright). Still grieving the loss of her brother, she loses her mother Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) during Namor’s attack on Wakanda. Shuri, therefore, has to contend with her grief and anger during her conflict with Namor, but having already visited the underwater nation of Talokan, she’s aware of their similarities. Namor is also angry, at the colonizing forces that enslaved his people, at America for attempting to plunder their natural resources, and at Wakanda for seemingly aiding this process.
The shared anger and grief between Namor and Shuri sets him up as the perfect villain for her origins as Wakanda’s new Black Panther. However, where previous MCU movies dispense with the dark mirror version at the end of their superhero origin stories, Namor and Shuri instead identify their similarities and agree to an alliance. Fundamentally, Namor is such a great villain because he has complexity and an understandable motivation behind his destructive actions.
It’s not clear when exactly Tenoch Huerta will return as Namor, but the ending of Wakanda Forever heavily implies that the MCU hasn’t seen the last of him. Namor’s mutant status, Talokan’s supply of Vibranium, and their uneasy alliance with Wakanda make Namor’s possible return in several upcoming MCU movies quite simple. The most obvious choice would be Black Panther 3, building on the diplomatic relations between Wakanda and Talokan, perhaps in the face of some new threat to both nations.
Although Talokan is currently being kept secret by Shuri and Wakanda, it’s not clear exactly how much the Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) heard while she had Everett Ross bugged. It’s likely that she heard some of his discussions about Namor’s blue-skinned Talokanils. As director of the CIA, Valentina was willing to intervene in the politics of Wakanda to destabilize the nation and secure Vibranium. Presented with an alternate source of the precious metal she could very well send her Thunderbolts team to Talokan, leading to a return from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s villain Namor, presented instead as the hero facing the Thunderbolts’ anti-heroes.