The King has returned. According to Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, Namor is back home with Marvel.
In a recent interview with Kevin Smith on his Fat Man On Batman podcast, Quesada indicated that Marvel Studios had reacquired the film rights to the Sub-Mariner.
Previously, the film and TV rights to the character were “complicated,” according to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. At one point, the character was owned by Universal, while it is also entirely possible that Fox had at least a partial claim because of his association with the Fantastic Four. However, during the podcast, there was this exchange:
KS: “Here’s a question: “Where is Sub-Mariner? Who has that?”
JQ: “We do. He’s in the comics.”
KS: “No… What studio? How come you guys aren’t diving into the water?”
JQ: “Oh, you know, I… I can’t speak for studios. So, uh….”
KS: “Is it elsewhere? ”
KS: “The same people that own Iron Man have Sub-Mariner?”
JQ: “Yeah, as far as I know, yeah we do. It’s not at Fox. It’s not at Sony.”
KS: “Really? So, like, sooner or later you guys will dive in the ocean?”
JQ: “I cannot confirm nor deny, sir.”
Of course, this response is muddled at best, and Kevin Feige has yet to weigh in with his opinion. Aside from his ties to the Fantastic Four, one of the issues that kept Marvel from using Namor was his status as a mutant — a term owned by Fox. (Which is why, in order to use Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Joss Whedon had to tweak their origins a bit and make their powers the result of Hydra experimentation.) However, a 2015 storyline by Quesada entitled “Namor: The First Inhuman” could present an answer to that particular problem. Namor is now an Inhuman, a term which Marvel Studios owns full rights to.
Time will tell if this one is true. If it is, expect a formal announcement from Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios soon. While it may not be a big deal for the public at large, this would be huge for comic fans.