Ryan Coogler has become the latest figure to thaw the once-frosty relationship between Marvel Studios and DC Studios, after crediting Jason Momoa‘s Aquaman for paving the way for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever to introduce the aquatic villain, Namor.
The film’s primary antagonist, played by Tenoch Huerta Mejía, is a major breakout from the sequel to 2018’s Black Panther, and the character has been a major player in Marvel comics for some time now. However, Marvel’s prioritization of other supervillains has left him on the shelf — until now, and Coogler was delighted with that turn of events. Speaking with Uproxx, Coogler discussed how the creative team at Marvel handled the introduction of Namor, handing out praise to DC for their work with Aquaman.
“I do think that having Aquaman out in the world, in film language, and being successful in the marketplace, I think it was a great bit of indirect guidance for us to lean into the things that made Namor different from Aquaman. Just out of respect to the audience because a lot of people saw that movie. A lot of people love that movie. It was our task to, obviously, put our heads down and blinders on and make our movie, but also have a sense of awareness of what the marketplace might want to respond to, and might be interested in. I think giving people something different, if you can give somebody something good, that’s also unique, I think it’s always better. We wanted to lean into the things that make those two characters different from each other because they have a lot of other similarities in publishing.”
Coogler’s remarks came on the same evening as Dwayne Johnson reached out to the Black Panther team to offer congratulations on the Marvel movie opening to the biggest-ever box office result for the month of November. Johnson, whose Black Adam has been the worldwide number-one movie since its release last month, was magnanimous in his praise after his film was dethroned, adding “Beautiful!!! Can’t wait to see the movie” and signed off in character, as Black Adam.
This is just the latest in the newly-developing ‘friendship’ between the two studios, which has been made all the more interesting after the news that James Gunn had agreed to take over the running of DC Studios, alongside Peter Safran. In response to this, Kevin Feige, the President of Marvel Studios, stated that he was “excited” to see Gunn’s DC projects, adding that he didn’t know how Gunn would have the time to run the studio on top of finishing his work for Marvel on the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, but that he would be “first in line” to see any of Gunn’s future projects. In the past, both Feige and Gunn have insisted there is no true rivalry between the two studios, with Gunn inviting Feige on the set of DC’s The Suicide Squad (2021), which Gunn wrote and directed after briefly being controversially fired by Disney for past Tweets he had written.
To see more of Namor, and the work Coogler has done on Wakanda Forever, head to your local theaters now. You can view our conversation with Coogler and Johnson’s tweet down below.