Black Panther: Wakanda Forever almost included a romance plot between Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Namor (Tenoch Huerta), according to editor Michael P. Shawver, though that plot was ultimately removed. In an interview with Newsweek (via The Direct) Shawver explained that a romance was discussed in an early cut before deciding against it and those more romantic elements — which were reportedly filmed — ended up scrapped from the final cut.
"I think what's really interesting is there were takes where there were some connection there… and at one point in an early cut we discussed like, 'Hey, do we leave it there? Do we just put it out there? Let's just add some complexity to the relationship,'" Shawver said.
He also explained that it was important to watch out for how that romance would play in terms of Shuri — specifically, the difference between the character "flirting" and being a leader.
"But then you've got to watch out for portraying, for example, Shuri flirting to get what she wants as opposed to being a diplomatic leader and becoming the leader that she needs to be, that she'll get to at the end," he added.
In the end, the film chose to focus on the idea that both Namor and Shuri had shared trauma, something that gives them a connection on which to build a friendship and alliance.
"So, what we ultimately focused on was Namor's line where he says, 'only the most damaged people can be truly great leaders', and that's planting the seed of the shared trauma that she realizes at the end [of the film]," he said. "But that's essentially who they are, they're trying to lead and be a leader of their nations with all this pain, carrying around this heavy heart."
Tenoch Huerta shoots down romance between Namor and Shuri
While an early version of the film may have featured a romance between Namor and Shuri, Huerta himself has shot down the idea that there is anything romantic between the characters. The actor told Rolling Stone that the bond between the two is more a human and intimate moment where the two connect over their shared experience of facing the threat of the Western world.
"I don't feel like it was a romantic touch [between them]." Huerta said. "I think it was more a human, intimate touch. I mean in the history of their kingdoms, the history of their people, they share the same root, and the threat comes from the same place for both of them, for the same reason. They both face threats from Western countries like the United States and France in the story, because of vibranium, natural resources. I think they connect in that aspect."
He also added that it wasn't their intention for Namor and Shuri to have a romantic relationship and went on to talk about how a connection between a man and a woman doesn't have to always lead to romantic love.
"I mean, when you meet someone and you have a good relationship, whether this person is the gender that you prefer or not, you always have this ambiguous relationship It's normal. It's human. So, I think this happened with both of them. If that can evolve into a romantic relationship or not? I don't know. It wasn't our intention. It could happen or not," he said. "The beautiful part of this relationship is it doesn't need to be romantic to be deep. It doesn't need to be romantic to be beautiful and bright and intimate. And this connection between a man and a woman in different levels doesn't need, necessarily, to end in a romantic relationship. And that's beautiful, you know? Because I hate the romantic love. I think it's poison. [Laughs]. These characters, they create something… I don't know. It was magical, but not necessarily romantic."
Will there be a Namor movie?
While fans have already started clamoring for a Namor solo film, it turns out that getting such a project isn't exactly that easy. Namor's live action movie rights are tied up with Universal Pictures, so much so that the arrangement with Universal even had impact on how Namor could be used in Wakanda Forever's marketing. Namor has the potential to return to the MCU, but there are plenty of hurdles in the way of a Namor solo film.
"It honestly affects us more, and not to talk too much out of school, but in how we market the film than it does how we use him in the film," Marvel producer Nate Moore said. "There weren't really things we couldn't do from a character perspective for him, which is good because clearly, we took a ton of inspiration from the source material, but we also made some big changes to really anchor him in that world in a truth that publishing never really landed on, I would argue, in a big way."
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is currently playing exclusively in theaters.