Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Set The Stage For The X-Men

Our editor presents a theory that the origin of Tenoch Huerta's Namor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever reveals that the vibranium in the ocean will be the key to the X-Men's entry into the MCU.

By Michileen Martin | Published

Along with acting as a powerful tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman, I believe Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has shown us how the X-Men will finally be introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are two keys to this: the vibranium revealed to be in the MCU Earth’s oceans, and the many ways the origin of Namor (Tenoch Huerta) in the film differs from that of the source material.

SPOILER WARNING: There is no way to explain this without revealing SPOILERS for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, so consider yourself warned!

Namor Finally Says “Mutant”

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Namor as a child with his subjects in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)

Unlike the Namor of the comics who is born in the early twentieth century, Huerta’s version is over 450 years old and is descended from indigenous people who endured countless atrocities at the hands of the Spanish. His ancestors become Talokans when they ingest a vibranium infused plant–much like the heart-shaped herb that gives the Black Panthers their powers–but Namor becomes a mutant, like the X-Men, because he is in utero when his mother drinks from the herb.

This gives us three crucial clues as to how Black Panther: Wakanda Forever sets the stage for the X-Men.

First, we know vibranium can turn people into mutants while they are in the womb. Second, we know the vibranium is in Earth’s oceans. Third and finally, while the substance has likely been in Earth’s oceans for much longer, we know it has at least been in the water since the 16th century.

If we assume, as Shuri (Letitia Wright) speculates in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, that the vibranium in Earth’s oceans is from the same meteor that crashed into Wakanda 2.5 million years ago, then the connection to the X-Men starts becoming clear. According to the US Geological Survey, 71% of the Earth is covered in water and 96.5% of that water is in the oceans. Considering that, how could there be vibranium in the ocean for 2.5 million years without it having an impact on humans?

This could solve the problem Marvel potentially has with characters like Wolverine, Magneto, and Apocalypse whose comic book origins go back far earlier than the 21st century. Rather than figuring out a way to introduce thems without referencing those events–which, particularly in the case of Magneto whose origin is tied to the Holocaust, could be extremely problematic–they can reveal the mutants have always been a part of the MCU.

Ms. Marvel Provides Another Clue

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Iman Vellani in Ms. Marvel

You may understandably be asking that if Black Panther: Wakanda Forever laid the groundwork for the X-Men in the way I’m describing, then why aren’t tons of mutants running all over the MCU already? The answer is that they are, but most may not know it.

At the end of Ms. Marvel‘s first season, we learn that Kamala Khan’s (Iman Vellani) powers aren’t just from the bangle she finds in her grandmother’s things. Her friend Bruno (Matt Lintz) reveals she’s a mutant (though he never uses the word specifically, leaving that honor for Namor).

Ms. Marvel shows us that some mutants, like Khan, may need an outside influence to trigger the awakening of their powers. What the MCU might have done here starting with the Black Panther sequel is to mix together the origins of X-Men with those of the Inhumans, who need exposure to the Terrigen Mists for their abilities to emerge. Likewise it may be that some mutants, like Kamala Khan, need something to jumpstart their mutation.

In other words, what we may learn is that since that fateful meteor crashed both in Wakanda and in Earth’s oceans, countless mutants have lived and died without ever knowing they were mutants.

Namor’s Origin Could Lead To Krakoa

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Along with the vibranium in the ocean as revealed in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever leading to the origin of Namor, there’s a damn good chance it will explain a nation founded by the X-Men. At the end of 2019, Marvel Comics began the game-changing event Dawn of X which saw almost all of the narrative’s mutants–good guys, bad guys, and everything in-between–uniting on the island of Krakoa and declaring the place a sovereign nation. And it could be that Wakanda Forever just explained the very ground they’re walking on.

In the comics, Krakoa is not just an island, but a sentient mutant island. It was introduced as an antagonist in 1975’s Giant-Size X-Men #1 and has since come to serve as the mutant homeland. And what better way to explain how an island could be a mutant, than to reveal–as I believe Wakanda Forever did–that the foundation of all of the MCU’s mutants is in the ocean.

This is only a theory, and one of Hulk knows how many ideas fans have had about how the arrival of mutants would finally be explained in the MCU. So if I’m wrong, whatevs; I’m wrong. But this has the potential to solve so many narrative problems Kevin Feige and his filmmakers are facing that at the very least I’d be surprise if they hadn’t considered it.