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Namor: Everything you need to know about Marvel's first character and the MCU's newest antihero

With Namor the Sub-Mariner's first MCU appearance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, here’s everything you need to know about the character’s history and cinematic future

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Image credit: Marvel Studios

The aquatic superhero Namor has finally arrived in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Which you can stream now on Disney+. Played by Tenoch Huerta, the Sub-Mariner has been reimagined for his live-action debut while retaining his regal background and complicated connection to Wakanda. Introduced in the ‘30s as part of the Golden Age of Comic Books, Namor is the oldest character in Marvel’s extensive publishing history but his MCU has shown they're not open to changing with the times.

With Namor as one of the most prominent characters in the Black Panther sequel, here is a full overview of the fierce figure, who has often toed the line between hero and villain across his lengthy history. In addition to Namor’s comic history and extensive abilities, here’s how Namor fits into Wakanda Forever and where the arrogant antihero may appear in the MCU next.

Who is Namor in comic books?

Image credit: Marvel Comics

Namor was created by Bill Everett in 1939’s Marvel Comics #1 as an antihero who bore a deep grudge against the surface world for contaminating the ocean world where he lived. Threatening to flood Manhattan, Namor eventually turned his wrath towards the Axis Powers as World War II intensified, seeing them as a greater threat to his underwater domain than the United States. Namor originally served alongside Captain America, Bucky, and the Golden Age Human Torch on the superhero team the All-Winners Squad before the team was retconned as the Invaders in 1975’s Giant-Size Invaders #1 by Roy Thomas, Frank Robbins, and Vince Colletta.

After Namor fell into a period of obscurity by the end of the Golden Age, the character was revived by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962’s Fantastic Four #4. Discovered by Marvel’s First Family as an amnesiac man wandering the streets of New York City, Namor had his memory restored and immediately became infatuated with Susan Storm after reclaiming his throne in the underwater kingdom of Atlantis. Namor’s vendetta against humanity for carelessly devastating his realm would lead him to alternate between hero and villain, either battling against Marvel’s greatest heroes or serving as a reluctant ally.

Throughout his comic book history, Namor has served on the Defenders, the Avengers, and the X-Men, after he was revealed to be a genetic mutant among the Atlanteans. Recently, Namor founded his own superhero team, the Defenders of the Deep to challenge the Avengers’ global authority. As one of the most powerful heroes on Earth and ruler of its largest kingdom, Namor is among the founding members of the Marvel Universe’s clandestine group the Illuminati, though his association with the team has deepened several feuds he holds against his teammates, most notably Black Panther.

Namor’s association with Black Panther and Wakanda was retconned to have occurred during World War II in 2010’s Avengers/Invaders #10 by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger, and Steve Sadowski when the Invaders met with T’Challa’s father T’Chaka. During the 2012 crossover event Avengers vs. X-Men, Namor sided with the X-Men during the superhero showdown, going as far as to flood Wakanda when the African nation harbored the Avengers from the Phoenix Force-empowered mutants. This would lead to a violent feud between Namor and T’Challa, resulting in their respective nations going to war over this lasting animosity.

Namor’s powers and abilities

Image credit: Marvel Comics

As an Atlantean, Namor possesses physical attributes that far exceed those of a human, including the ability to breathe underwater and withstand the pressures of the bottom of the ocean thanks to superhuman levels of endurance. Namor’s Atlantean physiology also gives him enhanced senses, particularly the ability to see in total darkness and sense things through the oceanic currents along with telepathic control over most ocean life. Namor also is hydrokinetic, able to control water to his will, from summoning enormous tidal waves to using solid water constructs both offensively and defensively.

However, Namor also possesses mutant DNA and his hybrid nature as a human and Atlantean augment his powers and abilities significantly above his fellow Atlanteans. Namor possesses strength and speed greater than most Atlanteans while his mutant heritage gives him the ability to fly, an accelerated healing factor, and a slowed aging process, with Namor over a century old despite appearing in his physical prime.

On occasion, Namor has bonded with the cosmic Phoenix Force, exponentially upgrading his already impressive power levels and allowing him to blast enemies with energy blasts and gusts of otherworldly flames. These upgrades have proved temporary, with Namor eventually defeated by other heroes, forcibly causing him to surrender these cosmic powers.

Namor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Namor made his MCU debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, with the character’s background slightly reimagined. Rather than ruling an underwater kingdom named Atlantis, Namor’s kingdom in the MCU has been named Talocan, with its society taking inspiration from Mesoamerican culture, itself named after Tlālōcān, a paradise in Aztec mythology. There has been speculation that this rebranding was made to differentiate Namor and his domain from Aquaman and Atlantis. Joining Namor in Wakanda Forever are his cousin Namora (Mabel Cadena) and the fierce warrior Attuma (Alex Livinalli).

As revealed over the course of the film, Namor has been alive for hundreds of years - and was actually part of a group of Mayans who retreated under the ocean after European colonoziation and the various sickneses it brought with it. Thanks to a variation of the Heart-Shaped Herb given to his people in a dream by one of their deities, Namor's people became able to breathe underwater - and thrived, beginning their Atlantis-like civilization known as Talocan.

Hidden from the larger world, Talocan becomes afraid of being exposed after Wakanda sets off a global search for the elusive alien metal known as Vibranium. While Wakanda is known as the primary source of the material, Talocan is revealed to also be home to Vibranium. This knowledge - and the fear of colonization by others - puts Namor and his people at odds with Wakanda.

Spoilers ahead, but by the end of the movie the two sides have struck a peace - but conversations with Namor and Namora reveal that he may be using this alliance to weaken Wakanda and position his people better for any impending interest from the larger world.

Namor’s potential MCU future

Image credit: Marvel Studios

Huerta’s participation in Marvel Studios projects beyond Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is unknown, given the extensive history behind Namor and the character’s enduring appeal, it is unlikely that it is a one-off appearance. Namor had been considered to appear among the multiversal heroes in the Illuminati in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness but was omitted due to plans for the character elsewhere. Wakanda Forever also sees the debut of Riri Williams, who is destined to become the armored superhero Ironheart. With Ironheart starring in her own Disney+ original series expected to premiere in late 2023, Namor and Talocan may figure into the plot.

As one of the oldest superheroes in Marvel history, Namor’s absence from the MCU was one that was quietly felt for years as other iconic characters came and went. As Wakanda faces a crisis in leadership upon the untimely death of its celebrated king, Namor has appeared as perhaps the greatest threat the African nation has ever known with an introduction that is sure to shake the entire MCU to its very core.

You can watch Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on Disney+ right now.

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