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Marvel Studios' Namor originally looked much different, until they saw DC's Aquaman movie

Artist Adi Granov shares the influence of Aquaman on designs for Namor

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Image credit: Marvel Studios

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Marvel and DC comic book fans have been comparing Namor and Aquaman as underseas rulers of their respective Atlantises for decades, and now the rivalry extends to their cinematic counterparts. With the release of 2018's Aquaman starring Jason Mamoa, the Marvel Cinematic Universe found themselves trailing their competitor heading into the debut of Namor in 2022's Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Of course, one of the key challenges in debuting the on-screen Namor is determining how you visually differentiate the Prince of Atlantis from the famous Justice Leaguer. In an exclusive interview with Popverse at C2E2 2024, artist Adi Granov said his original concept art for Namor was considered too "extreme." Said Granov, "I did a lot of the early concepts for Atlantis, or Talokan. I worked on Namor, but my Namor was a lot more extreme. It went quite a bit further away from the classic design."

Comic fans will know Adi Granov as the artist of the Iron Man: Extremis storyline, where his armor design and visualization of the Golden Avenger caught the eye of Jon Favreau. From there, Granov began work as a concept artist with Marvel Studios, working on the first two Iron Man films, Black Panther, and most recently Armor Wars before production was put on hold with the MCU's latest scheduling updates.

The success of DC's Aquaman played a role in shaping the look of Tenoch Huerta's ruler of Talokan. "I was doing armored plates kind of reminiscent of some of the more recent comic book versions, where he has big shoulders with an armored arm," said Granov. "The concern was that it was starting to look too close to what they did in the Aquaman movie. So they wanted to pull it back to the more classic Namor."

Namor keyframe art by Adi Granov for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Image credit: Adi Granov, Marvel Studios

In the comics, Namor's black vest of the 2010s morphed into ridged black armor (that looks a bit like clams!) covering his arms, legs, and upper back during an arc of Avengers (2018) by Jason Aaron and David Marquez. Most importantly, the armor cuts off just above the ankles, so the Sub-Mariner's cute little winged feet are fully exposed.

Fans have theorized that Namor's black armor designs could come into play to conceal and protect the burns on his back at the end of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, so Granov's visualizations may come back into play in the future. Likewise, the pressures of DC's Aquaman may be lessening as the shared universe moves toward James Gunn's new vision for the cinematic universe. Regardless, we're excited to see the return of Huerta's fascinating anti-hero in the MCU down the road.

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