It’s no doubt that most of you reading this will be well aware of the frankly delicious rumor going around that Namor is not only going to be surfing his way into the MCU but that he’s also going to be the villain for Black Panther’s second silver screen outing. Now a follow up for the portrayal of Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger was always going to be a big act to follow, yet under the right direction, Namor could easily be the greatest character the MCU has ever had to offer. Yes, I know that I did not call him a villain myself because any self-respecting comic book fan will know it is never that simple with the mighty Sub-Mariner. Do I sound excited about this? Absolutely.
Whether the claim is true or not one thing is certain, Kevin Feige should listen to the excitement of his fans. If this is a false claim, he should use this feedback to realize than this fan favorite character would be an incredible asset and a welcome change to some of the MCU’s more flat adversaries. If I haven’t given it away already, I’m a huge Namor fan and I want to talk about all the reasons why including him in the MCU will be one of the smartest things Marvel can bring to the table.
Redefining the “Anti-Hero”
Let’s be honest, the “Anti-Hero” trope has been beaten to death in both comics and film. It’s like some writers include at least one of them in everything in order to mask poor writing or a lack of diverse cast of characters. The anti-hero is usually a character completely defined by good morals but a willingness to kill or someone so traumatized by a past event it clouds their minds into not thinking like the rest of us. Sound familiar? I bet. Now, Marvel has done some good in trying to add more substance to the archetype with Deadpool and even more so with the Netflix adaptation of The Punisher, yet we definitely need more.
This is where Namor can come in. In the comics he’s known for flirting with the line between hero and villain. In his very first major appearance during the Golden Age of comics, he constantly threatened New York City due to the pollution of the ocean and eventually caused a tidal wave that destroyed most of it. Yet he also joined the allies against Hitler not long after. The same division of character can even be seen in the most recent run of comics. In the wonderful X:Men Red, Namor was one of the first, alongside Wakanda, to publicly recognize the mutant nation for Jean Grey and even selflessly offered her and her team sanctuary when their enemies closed in around them. Of course, on the other side of the line he was also making war with the entire surface realm in the still running Avengers run by Jason Aaron.
The death of his people from the crossfires of surface wars caused him to remember what was truly important to him. At best, he is a hero king and a stalwart defender of his people and their justice; at his worst, he uses those same traits to take on the entire world in brutal fashion. It’s this kind of mentality that would help redefine what makes a hero who is also a villain into something more, but only under the right circumstances. Which leads me to my next point.
Cultural Complexity in the Context of Black Panther 2
As I said before, filling the void left behind by Killmonger and his both brutally honest and heart-wrenching final words was always going to be a challenge. The films homage to both African and African-American cultural history was masterfully represented without creating a conflict between races to prove which was superior. Instead, Killmonger represented a call to justice that eventually would lead to a tale of vengeance for the oppression of his people and the ones he considered a failure for not stepping in.
The main reason I was excited by this rumor of Namor coming to the MCU is mostly because he would appear in Black Panther 2, which I think would be the best way to introduce him. For one, Atlantis and Wakanda share many similarities, the obvious being their isolationist mindset. However, Wakanda opening up to the world could create conflict where there already was one. The few snippets of evidence we have for Atlantis existing in the MCU point towards an eventual conflict. Nothing more so than the underwater earthquake mentioned by Okoye in Avengers Endgame. The fact that she says that we deal with it by not dealing with it suggests that there has been confrontations between the two nations before or that clear borders have been set between them and that jurisdiction of the ocean is Namor’s problem. Of course, this is all speculative.
An eventual conflict between the two can go one of two ways. The attack is on Wakanda directly or Namor declares war on the surface world itself in which Wakanda comes to the rescue. Either way, the line will be set between the Atlantean and the surface. When it comes to Namor, it is always about Atlantis and her people first. He constantly creates that line between us and them, and it would work great in the context of a Black Panther movie. While physically we are all the same, culturally the world is made of many customs, religions, and traditions, and Atlantis is no different. To see Namor eventually disrupt the cultural balance of the world will be more effective than most villains we’ve been given, and then for him to realize what truly matters in the context of culture, well that will be quite something. Also please Marvel don’t kill him.
An Introduction to Mutants?
Now my final point is a bit of a long shot but bear with me. Technically speaking, Namor is a mutant. He’s often considered the first mutant. Why not introduce the mutants into the MCU using him? I mean it only makes sense. Though Namor hardly ever considers himself a mutant, the fact that he still is one just begs the idea that we finally have them. However, I can only see this leading up to an eventual introduction, as it is hard just to say, “Hey this guy is a mutant; oh and by the way mutant exist now.” No. There needs to be a way to show that they’ve always existed and you can hardly just pin that on one character.
Yet, as mentioned he could be a good stepping stone to something greater. Even a post credit scene confirming that he is a mutant could do wonders for setting up the stage for mutants. While there isn’t much substance to this point, it is an idea I’d like to further discuss. So please, if you have your own ideas about where this could lead I’d love to hear them in the comments. But for now lets cross our fingers and hope that Namor is really on his way into the MCU.
Images Courtesy of Marvel Comics