Several, weeks ago Marvel Studios released their latest entry into their cinematic universe with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The film introduced the MCU to the anti-hero Namor (played by Tenoch Huerta) and the city of Talokan. This new interpretation of the classic Marvel character changed his origin story from the classic story of Atlantis to an original origin story taken from Meso-American folklore. Many fans assumed that after many years of trying to use the character, Marvel Studios finally got the rights back from Universal Pictures along with The Incredible Hulk. As MCU Cosmic reported the rights reverted in 2020 though that was based on the introduction of the character and not exactly accurate.
Originally in the 1990s, Marvel Entertainment sold off the film rights to many characters, including, Spider-Man to Sony Pictures and the X-Men & Fantastic Four to 20th Century Fox. Many of the characters have reverted beyond Spider-Man who is still a rental from Sony. Now Wakanda Forever producer Nate Moore has confirmed to The Wrap Namor (and the Hulk) is still at Universal for several more years though he is allowed to appear in MCU projects.
“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. 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.”
So while both characters may not have solo projects with their names in them they can appear as secondary characters. This harkens back to star Mark Ruffalo’s comments during the press tour from Thor: Ragnarok. The film was heavily inspired by Planet Hulk but the name wasn’t allowed to be used in promotional materials due to the rights issue. It is also confusing when the rumored World War Hulk will be made. Scooper MyTimeToShine has revealed on Twitter that both characters’ rights will officially return sometime before 2024.
Some may be confused about how Marvel Studios was allowed to use Jennifer Walters in the recently released She-Hulk series on Disney+. In 2012, director Guillermo del Toro tried to get a separate Incredible Hulk series off the ground (via Collider) at Marvel Television. This would suggest that Universal Pictures only have the rights to Hulk in a feature film, not television. Thus the MCU introduction of She-Hulk as an episodic series. Could this be used for Namor too? Only time will tell.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in theaters today