One week after longtime Marvel producer Victoria Alonso emphatically shot down using a CGI double of Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther 2 come more updates on the sequel.
The cast and crew of Black Panther 2 have been grieving the loss of Boseman, who tragically passed away in August after a prolonged and private bout with colon cancer. His loss took his Marvel collaborators by surprise, the intensely private Boseman having kept his terminal cancer diagnosis from all but a few people. Understandably, plans for the sequel have been the furthest thing from their minds as they processed their loss.
But plans must eventually move forward, and so they have. THR brought some updates on the production and casting.
With 2020 being the first year since 2008 that no Marvel movies hit screens, the studio is heading into 2021 busier than ever, the result of playing both catchup on backlogged movie productions and launching the first few Marvel TV series on the Disney+ platform. Black Panther 2 will reportedly be one of those productions, with sources revealing the plan is for it to start shooting in July at the Pinewood Studios in Atlanta. Interestingly, the shoot is scheduled to be a 6-month shoot – long even by superhero movie standards. Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Angela Bassett are all expected to return to their roles, with Wright said to be taking on a larger role in the absence of Boseman, seemingly confirming the speculation that her character, Shuri, will be taking up the Black Panther mantle as she does in the comics.
Another big update is that the cast is set to get bigger by one: Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta (Narcos: Mexico, Tigers Are Not Afraid) is in talks to play a villain in the movie. It’s not been reported what villain he’s playing, nor whether it’s a character from the comics or a brand-new villain created for the purposes of the sequel. In any case, it’s a great choice from Marvel if Huerta does indeed sign on to play a baddie. I have admittedly never watched Narcos, but his turn as El Chino in Issa López’s haunting debut feature Tigers Are Not Afraid is chilling. Huerta plays Chino as a boogeyman who could (and does) murder children without the expression on his face so much as flickering, a stone-cold sociopath with no remorse or sense of guilt. Of course, he won’t go nearly that dark in a Marvel movie, but he can bring something truly sinister to a Marvel villain we haven’t yet seen before.
The internet, however, seems to think Huerta might be playing a character Marvel fans know well: Namor the Submariner. You may be forgiven for thinking Namor is a good guy as he often teams up with Marvel’s heroes. But Namor is a “good guy” in the loosest sense of the phrase. Throughout a number of comic book runs, he’s been an antagonist, or an antihero at best. Even when he’s on Team Good Guy, Namor is, well, a complete dick. Arrogant, insulting, combative and generally only interested in protecting humans as a byproduct of defending his Atlantean people from a shared threat, Namor’s introduction into the MCU really could go either way and it wouldn’t be surprising if he were introduced as a villain at first. It’s also worth pointing out Easter eggs linking back to the character have been dotted throughout the movies of the MCU for a decade now – and, man, dem eyebrows say “Namor” all over:
However, it’s also also worth pointing out that the rights to Namor are a complicated mess. Universal previously held the movie rights, but they reverted back to Marvel around 2014. However, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has explained multiple times since the situation is not that simple and they can’t necessarily stick him in a movie. Multiple older legal contracts and previous entanglements, including distribution rights, are still murky. That’s not to say it would be impossible to figure out a way for Marvel to use Namor in the movies – they made it work with Sony and Spider-Man, after all – but it’s not as simple a matter as Marvel having full control over Namor as they do with most of their other characters.
In any case, it will be great to see Huerta get a big, meaty villain role. Not only because it will add more Latino diversity to the expanding world of Marvel in a significant way, but also because Huerta is just really talented and it will be fun to see him stretch his wings on a big feature production.
Black Panther 2 is set to hit theaters on May 6, 2022.