With the release of Spiderman: Far From Home in 2019, the third phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has officially ended. In its wake were many unanswered questions and even more uncertainties. When the pandemic came into full swing in 2020, a large amount of people turned their focus on maintaining their well-being, mentally and physically. I don’t know about you, but having newly released movies come directly into my home as a plus…even though most streaming services wanted additional charges for newly released movies like Black Widow (worth it).
We’re now in 2022, and some semblance of regularity has returned. And with the return of some semblance of normalcy comes Marvel’s phase four. They started this past February by giving us weekly episodes of Wandavision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, and the What If series. Not to mention the release of Spiderman: No Way Home and the soon to be released Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (que fangirl scream).
While all of the new phase four contect is amazing, what I’m really interested in is the Black Panther sequel. Unfortunately, with the untimely passing of Chadwick Boseman, it is hard to imagine what the movie would look like now that the Black Panther himself isn’t there. But as the weeks passed by, news and details about the film have come to light, and they look fascinating especially their confirmed and rumored cast.
Rumors of Narcos: Mexico star Tenoch Huerta being included in the cast of the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever started in early 2020. In the later part of 2020, those rumors were confirmed to be true by the media website Illuminerdi. When that happened, questions arose on which character he’s going to play, and the most common prediction by many was Namor.
In all honesty, I haven’t heard of Tenoch Huerta before his casting in the Black Panther sequel. So for those in the same boat as me, let me tell you some facts about our would-be Atlantean superhero.
Huerta is a Mexican-born actor that has performed in many short and major films in Spain and Latin America. He started appearing in American movies in 2015 when he played opposite Antonio Banderas and Josh Brolin in The 33. In the same year, he also played Alejo in the action-thriller film Camino and a Mexican man in the James Bond Spectre movie.
His big break came in 2018 when he was tasked to portray the infamous Rafael Caro Quintero, one of the FBI’s top ten most wanted fugitives, in the Netflix show Narcos: Mexico. Since then, he has also appeared in the fifth movie of The Purge series, The Forever Purge.
Who is Namor?
Now that we’ve delved into Huerta’s background, we can conclude that he’s a rising star that would do a great job portraying Namor. However, many non-comic book fans who only follow the movies may question why Namor is such a big deal in the Marvel Universe. The superhero hasn’t made his big-screen debut yet, and only comics fans would recognize who he is. So, allow me to explain.
For those who are unaware, here is a brief introduction to Namor, the Sub-Mariner. His first appearance was in Marvel comics issue #1 in 1939. During the Golden Age of comic books, he was considered one of the top characters alongside Captain America and the first iteration of The Human Torch.
Namor is the son of a human sailor and an Atlantean princess. Because of this, he possesses the superhuman strength and water powers of an Atlantean and the ability to fly because of the human X-gene. Additionally, he is shown to have butt heads and join forces with other Marvel characters like the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the X-men.
Significance in the MCU
With the possible appearance of Namor in Black Panther 2, Marvel could be introducing its first mutant in its cinematic universe. Although they’ve already shown Ursa Major in the Black Widow movie, Namor would be the first mutant that could affect the whole story moving forward. Furthermore, it would also establish another unexplored world with Atlantis.
This next character is a hundred percent confirmed to make her debut in the next Black Panther movie. Additionally, she is also scheduled to star in her Disney+ show in the future. Her name is Riri Williams, and she is Ironheart. Ironheart is one of the newer heroes in Marvel’s roster, and she’ll be played by Dominique Thorne.
I must admit that this is the first time I’ve heard of Thorne, so I had to look up a little bit of her background. She is a relatively new American actress of Trinidadian descent. Her experience in drama mostly came from her time at the Professional Performing Arts High School in Manhattan, New York.
Her first stint in acting was in 2018 when she was cast for the role of Sheila Hunt in the film If Beale Street Could Talk. Additionally, like a real-life foreshadowing of events, she played as a member of the Black Panther group in the 2021 film Judas and the Black Messiah. The Black Panther sequel will be the third movie under her belt, and the Ironheart series will be her first television appearance.
Even though Dominique only has a few years of acting experience, Marvel saw something special in her, and I have great trust in their uncanny ability at selecting amazing talent. Now that we know Thorne, let’s move our focus to the character she’s portraying, Ironheart.
Riri Williams first appeared in the Invincible Iron Man comics in 2016. She’s a fifteen-year-old genius who gets a scholarship to study engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the same school where Tony Stark studied. After reverse-engineering one of Iron Man’s earlier suits, she builds a prototype of her design by stealing materials from the school.
Her Role in the Movie
With the death of Tony Stark in the last Avengers film, the MCU now lacks an engineering prodigy in an Iron Man suit. However, with the addition of Ironheart in the cinematic universe, the hole that Stark left could be filled again. As for her significance in Wakanda Forever, she could become a close friend of Shuri’s since they’re both super brainiacs and aid the Wakandans in their foreshadowed conflict with Atlantis.
Who Will Be The Next Black Panther?
This last part isn’t exactly about a new character, but with Chadwick Boseman’s passing, the question remains on who will take up the mantle of the Black Panther in the sequel. It’s already been confirmed by director Ryan Coogler and Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige that T’challa will not be recast in the next film. With this information, fans could only speculate on who will lead Wakanda moving forward.
A strong theory suggests that Shuri will be taking up the mantle left by her brother. In the comics, Shuri became the Black Panther when Doctor Doom gravely injured T’challa. Given that fact, it isn’t far-fetched to think that Shuri’s actress Letitia Wright will suit up as the Black Panther in the sequel.
In the wilder side of theory crafting, people have theorized that Michael B. Jordan could potentially reprise his role as Killmonger and become the new Black Panther. Fans around the globe have shown love towards his portrayal of the villain.
But, sadly, we see his character die at the end of the first movie. However, with the introduction of the multiverse in the Loki series and the canon What If series that shows a live version of Killmonger, who’s to say that a live-action version isn’t possible, if highly unlikely.
Summer of 2022 is right around the corner and with all the new details, series, and trailers coming out, it’s hard not to get hyped about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The returning cast and director are indeed a sight for sore eyes. Of all the MCU films coming out this year, I’m most excited for Wakanda Forever and how it will propel the Marvel Universe into their next phase.