Warning: This post contains spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is constantly expanding, introducing new superheroes and villains in every TV show or movie it puts out. With Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, now streaming on Disney+, viewers meet the latest threat to Wakanda, the underwater antagonist, Namor. Wakanda Forever director Ryan Coogler changes Namor’s origins, blending them with Mesoamerican cultures. Namor’s inclusion in the MCU has been hinted at since 2016, after it was announced that Marvel Studios had bought the rights to the character. It was unclear how Namor would be portrayed in the sprawling universe, until it was revealed in 2022 that Tenoch Huerta was cast as the underwater antagonist.
Eagle-eyed fans may have noticed a nod to Namor in Avengers: Endgame when Okoye mentioned that there was an “underwater earthquake”—a detail that seemed innocuous until now. Here’s everything you need to know about the anti-hero Namor, the Sub-Mariner.
Namor’s comic book origins
Namor was first introduced in the Marvel comics in 1939. Initially written by Bill Everett, he is one of the oldest superheroes created in Marvel comics history, preceding characters like Iron Man and Captain America. In these comics, Namor is the son of a human man and the princess of Atlantis, making him a mutant. His signature winged feet allow him to fly, and he can also breathe underwater, swim fast, and has superhuman abilities.
In the comics, Namor was written as an antagonist, never truly being a hero or a villain. He fought on both sides, with the heroes: Doctor Strange, Hulk, Captain America, Bucky Barnes, the Human Torch, Toro, and Silver Surfer— as well as the villains: Doctor Doom and Magneto.
The character has had a significant place as an antagonist to both the Fantastic Four and Black Panther.
The changes made to Namor’s character in Wakanda Forever
Namor’s official introduction to the MCU comes when the United States attempts to mine vibranium from the ocean. His warriors are able to stop the operation and kill the officers in charge, along with everyone on board. On the anniversary of T’Challa’s death, Queen Ramonda takes Shuri to a cove to talk about grief and says to signal the end of mourning, they must burn the clothes she wore to the funeral. As Queen Ramonda says she has something to tell Shuri about T’Challa, Namor appears in the water and interrupts their conversation, alerting them to the mining attempts. He tells them he has more warriors than there are blades of grass in Wakanda.
Later in the movie, Namor’s warriors take Shuri to an underwater cave. She meets with Namor, who tells her his origins—which are different from the comics. His mother was pregnant with him when she was a villager in the Yucatán Peninsula in the 16th century. When the Spanish settlers came, they gave the indigenous people smallpox. A shaman in the village found a plant that was infused with vibranium, which he used to make a serum that he promised would cure their ailments. Everyone took the serum; Namor’s mother was skeptical about it at first but was later convinced after the shaman told her that her baby was sick.
Read More: There’s a Gaping Hole at the Center of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever—and It’s No One’s Fault
The serum turned everyone into sea creatures, and because his mother was pregnant with him before she took the serum, he was born half human and half sea creature. Being the first one born in this new civilization, with wings on his feet and ears that “pointed to the heavens,” he was seen as a deity and became the leader of Talokun. He’s called Kukulan, a “feathered serpent god.” His name Namor, he explains, comes from the moment he went to fulfill his mother’s wish of being buried on land. When Namor returned, he found that Spanish colonizers had enslaved the indigenous people. He burned down their settlements, and one Spanish colonizer called him a demon and “the boy without love,” so he started calling himself Namor.
What are his goals?
Namor tells Shuri that his ultimate goal is to protect his people, saying he wants to form an alliance with Wakanda to overthrow the nations on land because they pose a threat to Talokun. If they work together, they can reach Namor’s goal, but if Shuri works against him, he will attack. Nakia preemptively rescues Shuri and Riri Williams, the scientist who created the machine the United States used to look for vibranium, and kills one of Talokun’s citizens. This prompts a war between Wakanda and the citizens of Talokun. Shuri and Namor get into an epic battle where Shuri gives Namor a chance to yield in exchange for a cease-fire and Wakanda’s protection of Talokun along with its citizens. The two call off their armies and peacefully return to their respective nations.
There, Namor speaks with one of the citizens who says she was hoping to be fighting alongside him for much longer. He says that the alliance with Wakanda makes them stronger as a nation, implying that his attempt to attack nations on land is not over just yet.
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