Few superheroes are as polarizing as Marvel’s Namor, the Sub-Mariner.
Namor actually predates the first “Marvel” comic book, debuting in Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1 (April 1939), a few months before Marvel Mystery Comics #1 (Oct 1939), published by Timely Comics, which later became Atlas, and then Marvel.
Created by the legendary Bill Everett, Namor was the first ever ‘Anti-Hero’ in comics. He’s been everything from a conquering super-villain to the hero who saves the universe, to everything else in between. Now the big questions fans have though are, how can Namor fit in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), and which actor could be Namor?
Well don’t worry Uncanny- I gotcha covered with some possibilities.
First things first, be sure to check out a quick video I did last year about all the things Namor did FIRST before anyone else in comics!
An Atlantean walks into a bar…
Namor originated just prior to World War Two, and spent a lot of time with Captain America and the original Human Torch. Having already done a WW2 flashback movie, it’s unlikely that Marvel will do an origin story taking place in the same era.
Namor’s next most prominent appearances were in the Silver Age as a villain/associate of both The Fantastic Four and the X-Men. Although Professor Xavier and Namor do have a short history of traveling around looking for mutants together, it’s far more likely that we’ll see Namor associated with The Fantastic Four, who he has a long and storied history with.
Namor is some times referred to as “The Avenging Son”, as his normal stints as a villain stem from him attacking the surface world due to their polluting the oceans, or straight up destroying deep-sea Atlantean outposts or cities. This will almost certainly be the way he is introduced into the movies when they come around to it. Either attacking New York (because that’s what people do…) in a possible Fantastic Four film, or possibly as some fans speculate, attacking Wakanda as the premise for the next Black Panther movie.
Many fans after watching Avengers: Endgame were quick to jump on Okoye’s mention of an underwater earthquake off the coast of Africa as being a possible lead into something with the Sub-Mariner. Also, Steve and Natasha talking about whales in the Hudson River might just be one too many unusual sea activity references to be a coincidence.
Now, while Black Panther and Namor do have a recent history of (repeated) conflict in the comics, I personally have a lot of trouble with this premise of Namor deciding to attack Wakanda for Black Panther 2. Mostly because, well, Wakanda is always depicted as pointedly NOT being on the ocean.. which is… sort of a necessity here.
Yes, there is a large lake near one of the borders of Wakanda, but come on now, this is a stretch.
Also, if you want to just get right down to it- Black Panther is a horrible match for Sub-Mariner and squaring them off would be a disservice to Namor’s abilities. This is a guy who not only goes toe-to-toe with the entire Fantastic Four (and usually wins), but has also defeated Dr. Doom single-handedly, and has been a member of some of the most power-house teams in Marvel comics including the X-Men Extinction Team (who had a stare-down with Celestials), and The Illuminati. Namor is closer to a Hulk and Thor tier character than he is a Black Panther level, and I hope Marvel shows this.
Personally, I think Namor’s storied relationship with the Fantastic Four would make a great kick-off to that entire part of the MCU.
He has a very complex history with each and every member of the team, as well as with their primary villain Doctor Doom.
For those unfamiliar, Namor is in his heart two things; a King of Atlantis, which he protects beyond all else, and a rogue whose favorite hobby is being a womanizer.
These key traits directly lead to the great conflict with the Fantastic Four, as Susan Storm (Richards) is the only woman Namor has ever truly loved as more than just a checkbox.
The subtle beauty though of this ongoing storyline/theme is Namor is everything that Sue’s husband Reed Richards is not.
Namor is dashing and charming sure, but importantly, Namor is attentive and has invaded nations (or called off invasions) all in her name. While Reed is a workaholic and absolutely focused on his tech work, he often neglects his wife- and here comes Namor, royalty who literally gave up on ruling the world just to please her.
Susan has often battled with her desires towards Namor. At one point, being called out by her teammates for secretly keeping a photograph of the Atlantean, and often speaking up for him during moments of conflict.
It’s a very interesting dynamic, and one not often focused on in comics, especially with the fact that Susan struggles so hard with this aspect of her life. She’s gone to therapy for it, and Namor has, while never hiding his feelings, abandoned his pursuits, respecting Susan’s decision to stay with her husband.
Though be sure, incidents do creep up from time to time and these two have made out on occasion, which makes the ENTIRE story between the team and the king even more fun!
The story isn’t just about Sue and Namor though. The Sub-Mariner has a very competitive relationship with all three of the men on the team for different reasons. The Human Torch is known to be a hot head show off, well it would be a hard task for anyone to get into an ego competition with Namor. The Thing is easily ruffled and likes to use his strength to clobber anyone in his way, but Namor has a sharp tongue and is more than strong and durable enough to stand in front of The Thing and go blow for blow. Then, of course, there is Reed Richards- one of the smartest men on the planet. The problem is Reed often does not think practically, and Namor more often than not is quick to point out Reed’s failings as a husband and a hero, where others would never have spoken up.
There’s a fabulous little run by Johnathan Hickman in New Avengers: Illuminati for instance, where our entire universe was going to collide with another universe, and this incursion would have destroyed both realities. While Reed built a device which could ‘blow up’ the other universe, neither he nor Black Panther could actually trigger the machine, unable to kill the countless lives to save countless others. That’s where Namor stepped in.
Oh… and the whole bit about his wife having a mad crush on the dude doesn’t help either.
So, while Namor could pop up with Black Panther, or Hulk, or the X-Men, or even the likes of Thor, there’s just too much history with the Fantastic Four to pass up on.
Oh, did someone say Namor and Thor?
Namor, to me, makes the most sense kicking off a new era of the MCU. Maybe have him and Dr. Doom team up for a Fantastic Four flick, and have Namor turn on Doom in the end for being a douche (basically the story of Fantastic Four #6 way back in the sixties).
Whosoever wears these ankle-wings, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of NAMOR!
An actor to play Namor really has a tall order to fill. They need to pull off hot-headed, yet regal, braggadocious, yet poised, calm and steady, yet passionate. Namor is so dynamic a character because he’s a half breed (Atlantean and Human/Mutant) and he has seemingly all the best and worst traits of each.
To be upfront with casting, I absolutely hate the idea of Dwayne Johnson as Namor. I like the man himself and as an actor he’s super cool- but he does not fit for me as Namor.
Namor isn’t a big bulky muscular. He is fit and toned, like an Olympic swimmer. This is the difference between like a Bolo Yeung and a Bruce Lee. Namor needs to be more like Bruce, which is pointedly, NOT like Dwayne Johnson.
So who could wear the ankle-wings?
A few options I like:
Godfrey Gao. He seems like the kind of guy who would walk in and make out with your wife while you’re in the other room and then make you feel bad about yourself later.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers. At 41, he’s slightly older than I think the role requires, but he’s exactly the type of dude we’re looking for.
Daniel Henney. He’s 39… but you know… looks 26, max.
There are a hundred more possibilities out there- Harry Shum Jr, Pedro Pascal, Joe Taslim. Who knows really. Marvel never really has picked who we thought they would for ANY character besides Nick Fury.
So- who would YOU want to see as the Avenging Son?