Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hit theaters last weekend with the eagerly anticipated sequel to Black Panther not only answering the question of how the Marvel Cinematic Universe would deal with the heartbreaking loss of Chadwick Boseman but also bringing to a close the MCU's Phase 4. The film ultimately closed some doors and used its story to lay the groundwork for many others, including Marvel's forthcoming Thunderbolts movie. Not much is currently known about that film, which is scheduled to arrive on July 26th, 2024, and while Black Panther: Wakanda Forever offered one particular moment that could certainly set up for at least part of the Thunderbolts story, there's another element of the film that may offer an opportunity to even further expand the MCU all while providing an action-packed adventure for the team that Red Guardian actor David. Harbour has described as "losers": Namor.
Warning: spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever beyond this point.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever largely chronicles conflict between Wakanda and the previously hidden undersea nation of Talokan, a nation ruled by Namor (Tenoch Huerta). The two worlds come into conflict over vibranium because, as it turns out, Wakanda isn't alone in being rich in the metal. Talokan also has vibranium and it's the efforts of the outside world — specifically the United States government — to find vibranium outside of Wakanda that truly sets things off. A device invented by Riri Williams/Ironheart (Dominique Thorne) and utilized by the C.I.A. finds vibranium in the ocean, which leads the Talokanil to attack and become entangled with Wakanda when Wakanda chooses to protect Riri rather than turn her over to Namor.
Ultimately, Talokan and Wakanda become allies as the only two nations with vibranium and the understanding that it is them against the world when it comes to vibranium. It's also made clear that the hunt for vibranium is far from over. Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) at one point tries to tell his C.I.A. boss/ex-wife Valentine Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) how dangerous it would be for the U.S. to have power like vibranium, to which Val says that that is something she dreams of. While that one line — the bit about dreaming of having that sort of power — alone could set up Thunderbolts as a quest for vibranium, it's the Namor angle that could make things truly interesting.
How Namor could factor into Thunderbolts.
While Val's line could be the driving force behind Thunderbolts, the ensemble film following a team of anti-heroes and former villains assembled by her, sending such a team simply to hunt for vibranium doesn't feel quite like enough of a premise — but sending such a team to deal with a potential threat like Namor of Talokan and get vibranium in the process does, particularly if you look at the Thunderbolts roster. Earlier this year, it was confirmed that the team's roster will consist of Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Ava Starr / Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Alexei Shostakov / Red Guardian (David Harbour), John Walker / US Agent (Wyatt Russell), and Antonia Dreykov / Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko). Each of these anti-heroes and former villains have unique skill sets that would arguably be of use against someone like Namor, but more than that they are characters who operate in a gray area just enough that taking out the leader of a sovereign nation seems like something they'd be willing to do.
By having Namor appear as part of Thunderbolts, it would also further cement his hatred for the surface world and create avenues for additional conflict and stories deeper into the MCU's future — including laying groundwork for interactions with the Fantastic Four when they finally come into the picture. There's even the possibility, albeit admittedly a bit of a stretch, that Thunderbolts could reveal a bit more of the MCU's history and suggest that there was a time when Namor was known by some world powers. In comics, Namor was part of the Invaders and served alongside Steve Rogers/Captain America, Bucky, the original Human Torch/Jim Hammond, and Torch's sidekick Toro in World War 2. If Marvel wanted to get real crazy, they could use Thunderbolts to bring that tie into things via Bucky, potentially leading to a solo Namor movie, series, or special presentation that could dig into that untold story. Sure, it's a stretch, but it could be fun.
Do you think Namor is the key to Thunderbolts? Are you excited for Marvel's Thunderbolts movie? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in theaters now. Thunderbolts will be released exclusively in theaters on July 26, 2024.