This article contains Black Panther: Wakanda Forever spoilers
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever finishes off Marvel’s chaotic and oversaturated Phase 4 and while there’s much to be said about the heroes of Wakanda taking up arms after T’Challa’s abrupt demise, one of the true highlights of the movie is Tenoch Huerta as Namor, the Sub-Mariner. The aquatic king known to his people as K’uk’ulkan is a revelation in Wakanda Forever. Not only does he steal whatever scene he’s in, but he already feels like a potentially major fixture in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
While an easy decision for them to make, it is fortunate that Marvel did not kill Namor off by the end of the movie. Instead, he remains in his Talokan kingdom, trying to make sense out of Shuri’s mercy in a way that vindicates his bloodlust against the surface world. Namor is a versatile character in the comics and has been since 1939. He’s been a hero, villain, king, drifter, and has been part of various teams. It makes you wonder what path Namor will take in the MCU.
One of the bigger differences between the movies and comics with Namor is that the MCU incarnation is rather ancient. He has been alive for centuries, making him less of a king to his people and more of a god. While not nearly that old in the comics, Namor has still been alive for over a century. Canonically, he fought the Nazis alongside Captain America, Bucky Barnes, and the original Human Torch during World War II as part of the Invaders.
Before we look at Namor’s future, we must acknowledge the possibilities in Namor’s past. The world at large does not know about Namor’s existence, but that does not mean he has been completely quiet for all these years. Namor is ripe for retcon crossovers. For one, the Eternals could have easily interacted with Talokan at some point. Since an Easter Egg in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law implies the existence of MCU Wolverine, those two could have crossed paths back in the day.
If we ever do get another appearance by Steve Rogers, perhaps he could have met Namor briefly during the war. Disregarding Chris Evans’ hypothetical return, Namor could have dealt with the likes of the Winter Soldier, Red Guardian, or even Isaiah Bradley. There are lots of possibilities to build up Namor’s background.
The CIA subplot in Wakanda Forever felt tacked on at times, but it gave us a better look at who Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is. We know that near the end of Phase 5, she will be leading the Thunderbolts and that she is amoral at best. Whatever major mission she has in store for that team, it will not be from a purely heroic standpoint. Chances are, she will be what Steve Rogers feared ever since Captain America: Civil War – the government using superheroes to do their dirty work.
Valentina’s final scene shows that she wants the United States to get its hands on all the vibranium they can get. The plot of Thunderbolts could very well be a follow-up to Wakanda Forever. Not only would that make Wakanda a target (which would also be a really awkward spot for Bucky), but Talokan might be on the menu as well. Namor’s fears could be realized when a team of super soldiers invade his hidden home and try to rob them of their resources.
If that is in Namor’s future, then the sky’s the limit to where his future takes him.
In the comics, in-between the era of World War II comics and the real beginning of Marvel’s Silver Age, Namor lost his memories and wandered the streets as a homeless man. This happened for years until he was recognized by the Human Torch, Johnny Storm. After regaining his memory and realizing that his undersea kingdom was missing, Namor turned full-on villain and cursed the surface world.
In the MCU, such a fate could go either way. The idea of Namor living the life of an amnesiac drifter could make for a decent Disney+ miniseries or special. On one hand, it could give him the humility he desperately needs. He could learn to find understanding and value in the life of surface humans. Such a story was used recently in DC Comics where Ocean Master found a new life and perspective as a suburban father. Then again, the harsh lifestyle could also make Namor increasingly bitter once he returns to his true self.
Phase 6 is set to start off with Fantastic Four. We have seen Fantastic Four vs. Doctor Doom done to death on the big screen. Fantastic Four vs. the Sub-Mariner is a fresh fight and could be a fun direction.
In the beginning, Namor was one of the team’s greatest foes. As mentioned, Johnny Storm helped him regain his memory and that only drove Namor to fury. To add a wrinkle to his rivalry with the Fantastic Four, Namor’s emotional weakness was his romantic interest in Sue Storm. Much to Reed’s dismay, Sue was tempted by the idea of dumping her nerd teammate for the sexy speedo fish man.
Over time, Namor became an ally to the team, but his rivalry could make for a good plot point once the Fantastic Four are officially part of the MCU’s blueprint.
Doctor Doom and the Super-Villain Team-Up
MCU Namor’s actions in Wakanda Forever boil down to a need to find a like-minded ally to help him hold the Earth under his thumb. He desperately wants Princess Shuri to see things his way and join him against the world. In defeat, he’s left trying to convince himself that Talokan and Wakanda will still fight this great war together. He knows what he wants, but he’s looking in the wrong direction.
What he needs is Latveria.
Early in the original Fantastic Four run, Doom and Namor teamed up and it did not work out. In the 70s, the two started to become frenemies and starred in their own comic series called Super-Villain Team-Up. It mainly dealt with Doom understanding that he needed an ally to help him rule the world and that Namor was the perfect partner. In the end, Doom respectfully acknowledged that he and Namor were different kinds of leaders and moved on while allowing Namor to continue ruling his own kingdom.
In the decades that followed, the pair would regularly team up. Even with the countless betrayals and fighting between the two, Namor is depicted as one of the closest things Doom has to a friend. As we’re hoping the MCU adaptation of Doctor Doom hits the right buttons, the Namor/Doom bromance seems like a must. Even if it only lasts until Doom threatens to kill Sue Storm.
War for Talokan
As Whiplash said back in Iron Man 2, “If you could make God bleed, people cease to believe in Him.” At the end of Wakanda Forever, Namor’s subordinate Namora (his cousin in the comics) is uncomfortable with his defeat. While his underwater people still follow him, Namor will never truly be the same in their eyes. He is not all-powerful. He is flawed. He can bleed.
In the comics, Namor’s kingdom is Atlantis, which they changed for the movie presumably to distance themselves from Aquaman and because the whole Mayan aesthetic rules so very, very much. It’s an interesting choice that Attuma is depicted as one of Namor’s top men as in the comics, Attuma is one of Namor’s greatest rivals. A ruler of an aquatic barbarian horde, Attuma has repeatedly butted heads with Namor and has usurped his throne a couple of times.
The point I’m getting to is that the more Namor dips his toes into the MCU, the more likely somebody will try mutiny. Perhaps Attuma decides that Namor is not fit to rule. In the comics, Namor’s top general Krang has a tendency to try and stab him in the back and take over. An MCU version of Krang trying to oppose Namor does not sound too far-fetched.
A more obscure status quo with Namor is his early 90s run as a corporate leader. Having realized a biological reason for his mental unbalance, Namor chilled out a bit and decided to protect the seas in a different way. Keep in mind, one of the main reasons Namor was annoyed with the surface world was man’s tendency to pollute the oceans. Namor decided to play man’s own game to prevent such a thing. Building up his fortune from various undersea treasures, Namor started his own corporation called Oracle Incorporated. Not only did it attempt to keep other corporations in check, but it also funded the Heroes for Hire for a bit.
Instead of sitting on his underwater throne and remaining vigilant, it could be a way of Namor redeeming himself while defending his people on man’s terms. If his people are no longer a secret, then own up to it. Do business and keep tabs on anyone who might harbor a threat.
There actually is a corporation called Oracle in the MCU already, briefly referenced in Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, and Avengers. Not that anyone would really notice if a new version came to town.
As a hero, Namor has been part of a lot of teams in the comics. He was indeed part of the Avengers, though there is nothing exactly notable about his time on the team. He is more well-known as part of the Illuminati, which could always get its own mainline MCU version down the line.
Namor’s mostly at home as one of the Defenders, which would probably have to be renamed in the MCU to distance themselves from the Netflix hero team. For quite a while, Namor, Doctor Strange, the Hulk, and Silver Surfer were the main crew of independent heroes who kept ending up banding together as an anti-team. Since Strange and Hulk are still active in the MCU and Silver Surfer is on the way, it is within the realm of possibility that we could see these four join forces. Hell, Valkyrie was also a major member of the team and we could always use another Tessa Thompson appearance.
Most importantly, Wakanda Forever was blatant about Namor being a mutant. While he has at times considered himself above the team, Namor has been an occasional member of the X-Men. Since the impending MCU X-Men thread really needs to differentiate itself from what the Fox movies did before it, throwing the Avenging Son in as one of the major players is certainly a way to do it.