He’s certainly the most overdue of 80 years of Marvel characters to make it into the live-action world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, created by writer-artist Bill Everett in 1939, was Marvel’s first mutant and the leader of the undersea world of Atlantis, frequently forgotten in recent years because of his DC Comics counterpart, Aquaman. That’s Namor and Everett above as depicted in a fantastic tribute by artist Alex Ross. Along with Captain America and Human Torch, the original Big 3 included Prince Namor. He’s also the first superhero anti-hero, so it probably makes sense Marvel is sneaking him into the MCU as they did Silver Surfer in the second Fantastic Four movie. Audiences internationally who have not followed the comics of eight decades past or only know of the character in spotty revisits over the years will now meet him this year in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, as what appears to be the villain.
Namor’s origin is getting wedged into what will be a sad tale for the MCU. It’s about death, a subject comics usually deals with by changing the guy in the suit or bringing him/her back to life. Transitions these days, like the loss of beloved lead actor Chadwick Boseman, have been shown to be better suited for Marvel’s streaming platform–think the in-between exploits of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki in his series, or The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, another transition story expected to serve as a springboard for the forthcoming Anthony Mackie star vehicle Captain America: New World Order.
The challenge for director Ryan Coogler is introducing Namor–be he prince or king now–as a key player, boosting Wakanda’s influence and T’Challa’s successor, while not looking like an Avatar or Aquaman knock-off. And certainly not relegating Namor to secondary player status like Black Manta as happened in Aquaman. Or getting lost and forgotten like Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four 2.
Check out the San Diego Comic-Con trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, including the original cast returning minus Boseman, plus first looks at Tenoch Huerta as Namor. Also watch for the actress expected to take over for Robert Downey, Jr.’s Iron Man, Dominique Thorne as Ironheart, a new character from the 2016 comics, likely created for just this purpose, who will get her own Disney+ series in the coming year or two.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever arrives in theaters November 11, 2022.
C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg