While the news of the day yesterday involved director Edgar Wright exiting his long-awaited Ant-Man, it seems a very interesting tidbit slid under most people's radars. It seems that the rights to Namor, the Sub-Marniner have returned to Marvel Studios in some capacity.
While we all like to pretend we know what's going on with Marvel Studios, we continue to prove we know next to nothing. Yesterday's shocking news about Ant-Man is one example and the news that the film rights to Marvel's first anti-hero, Namor, is another.
We've all been operating under the assumption that the film rights to Namor resided at Universal Studios and that's been through no fault of our own ; Marvel Studios' President, Kevin Feige, was the one who gave us the info last year. However, he also, in a more recent interview with IGN's Jim Vejvoda, mentioned that Namor's rights may not be so cut and dried. When asked to clarify the ownership of the live-action rights to the Sub-Mariner (in addition to Elektra and the Kingpin) Feige said:
"No, Namor I think is a little complicated, the way some of them are. Elektra I think we have. I think that was part of Daredevil, and that's clean and simple. Kingpin we either have or somehow share. I'm not 100 percent clear on that one."I read the article at the time and filed it away. Recently, with the rumors swirling that Universal was looking to release a Namor film on November 4, 2016, the comment from Feige resurfaced in my brain. Then, yesterday The Hollywood Reporter's Borys Kit, who has a fantastic track record, tweeted the following in response to an editorial about the superhero movie genre that mentioned the Namor rumor and the live-action rights:
Kit followed up the tweet by saying he'd done his due dilligence on both Universal and Marvel Studio's sides of the fence and came away with the same info: Marvel is in possession of the rights to Namor.But at least one thing is wrong: Universal does NOT have the rights to the Sub-Mariner. Marvel has them.— Borys Kit (@Borys_Kit) May 22, 2014
UPDATE: In an interview with IGN which was posted on July 18, 2014, Marvel Studios' President Kevin Feige CONFIRMED the information that Borys Kit surfaced back in May. Here's the part of the interview that illuminates the Namor rights:
IGN: Finally, there were rumours circulating awhile back that Universal and Legendary Pictures were developing a Sub-Mariner movie, but there was also some confusion about who holds the rights to the character. So could Legendary make that movie at this point?Feige: No.
IGN: So if a film were to happen it would be you guys making it?
Feige: Yes, but it’s slightly more complicated than that. Let’s put it this way – there are entanglements that make it less easy. There are older contracts that still involve other parties that mean we need to work things out before we move forward on it. As opposed to an Iron Man or any of the Avengers or any of the other Marvel characters where we could just put them in.Straight from the top, Marvel DOES own the rights to Namor. Now when we might see him in the MCU is another story entirely. As Feige says, it's complicated. We can, however, pretend he already exists given the many references to his company, Oracle, in the MCU.
This, to me, is a far more interesting development than Edgar Wright's departure from Ant-Man and it may give us some insight to a possible future of the MCU. There's been a lot of smoke concerning Namor, too much to make it all coincidental. At this point it seems very likely that Namor may join the MCU on November 4, 2016 if not before in a cameo or tag scene appearance. Let's not forget that the only other Marvel Studio's film on the schedule for 2016 is Captain America 3 and that Cap and Namor have DEEP ties in the comic book universe. I, as is always the case, have no inside information, but IF Namor is back and Marvel and IF they are going to put a Namor film out in 2016, we have to at least consider the possibility that he could appear in Captain America 3 via flashbacks or even in the present day: we could be looking at a big screen incarnation of The Invaders.
As awesome as an Invaders flashback would be, I don't think that's the reason you put a complex character like Namor in the MCU. Namor works best in his role as an anti-hero which often brings him into conflict with some of Marvel's other headstrong leaders, most notably T'Challa, another hero we believe we will be seeing on screen soon. Of course, Namor, T'Challa and a few other top minds make up one of the most important and influential groups in the Marvel universe: The Illuminati. While Marvel certainly can't put together the Illuminati the same way they are constructed in the comics, the reacquisition of Namor adds one more piece. As it stands now, Marvel has the ability to have Doctor Strange, Namor, Black Panther, Iron Man ,Captain America, Black Bolt and Bruce Banner (who recently joined the Illuminati in New Avengers) join forces the secretly steer the fate of the MCU. Of course, with the X-Men out of the picture, there's really no need to have Charles Xavier of Hank McCoy on the team and with the Fantastic Four at Fox as well, they would, sadly, not have Reed Richards and his scientific expertise.
Of course, ALL of the above is just speculation. I'm certain they could make at least 3 solid Namor films given the 75 years of stories available to them but it is Namor's impact on the MCU as a whole that has me most excited. Marvel Studios has certainly been in pursuit of the film rights it sold off and having Namor back in the fold is a VERY intriguing prospect. It's possible that they've worked out a deal with Universal, similar to the one they worked out for the Hulk, that would allow them to produce the film and use the characters as long as Universal cashes in on the film's distribution rights. I'm sure we'll have more on the story in the coming weeks, but for now it seems fans of the connectivity that exists in the MCU are going to be a little happier in the coming years. IF this is what it appears to be, Marvel will likely have a team put together to make the film by this fall. We do know that Zac Efron has met with Marvel and given a script and, though I'd LOVE to see Efron as Richard Rider, he certainly fits the bill for the character of Namor as well AND if Namor were to appear in Captain America 3, which may have an early draft of a script in place by now, Marvel would want to look at locking an actor like Efron in ahead of time.