Namor might be quite different in Wakanda Forever, but his first appearance in the film actually mirrors his debut in the original Marvel comic books.
Warning: the following contains spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, in theaters now.
In bringing Namor the Sub-Mariner to the big screen, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever made several changes to the anti-hero's origin. From the nature of his home nation to his very appearance, this Namor is far different from the one first introduced back in Marvel's Golden Age. Nevertheless, there are some key similarities, mostly notably how the two Namors first make a splash on the surface-dwellers.
Namor's comic book debut involves him attacking and killing a crew of humans on a ship. This is exactly how he's brought into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, showing how the character's spirit was retained amid the changes. Here's how Ryan Coogler's new film celebrates the history of Marvel's first mutant.
First appearing in 1939's Marvel Comics #1, Namor's debut in the Marvel Universe solidified him as quite unlike any other anti-heroes of the era. This story starts out with the crew of a ship, who quickly notice the superhuman underwater prowess of what appears to be a man. Giving chase to this figure proves to be the crew's downfall, however, with Namor not pulling any punches. Despite the comic being released in the Golden Age, Namor is shown using his vast strength to crush the helmets and bodies of two deep sea divers, quite obviously killing them.
Unfortunately for the crew, a few broken and bruised bodies isn't the only bad fate that befalls them. Namor ravages the ship itself, using his strength once again in order to topple the vessel. It's all quite violent, establishing that the Sub-Mariner has no real regard for human life, namely those who threaten his seas. Such a temper and arrogance is central to the character, and it's one part of him that wasn't lost in translation with his radically altered MCU incarnation.
In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Namor and his people first show up when they attack and kill the occupants of a ship. Said vessel was sent out in order to find and obtain vibranium, which is no longer the exclusive object of Wakanda following the country's disarray. This race to find the metal disrupts the seas themselves, earning Namor's ire. Not only does he decimate those on the ship, but he speaks to Shurt and Ramonda of Wakanda in his trademark haughty tone.
This all faithfully adapts the character of Namor in different ways, namely the nature of his debut scene. Brought into the MCU in a scene that feels just like his original story in the comic books, Namor is set up here as the same thing he was there. That would be the role of a figure who's antagonistic toward humanity, yet might not quite be the villain he's made out to be. At the same time, he has no issue relying on brute force and violent means to get his point across, even if the receiving end of his wrath is on there through misunderstanding.
There's also the mutual juxtaposition of Namor going up against humans in his own elements. Be they actual marine military members or those simply wearing scuba outfits, it's certainly interesting in both versions that Namor's natural powers dwarf those of humanity when they create the means to traverse the deepest depths. It all helps to make the changes to Namor's character and his relationship to Atlantis more palatable to fans, ensuring that the broadest strokes and iconography of the character are retained. He might not be instantly recognizable, but the thematic roots of Namor are still there, right down to how he makes an entrance.
To see Namor swim rings around humanity, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is playing in theaters now.
Timothy Blake Donohoo is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he majored in Communication and minored in Creative Writing. A professional freelance writer and marketing expert, he’s written marketing copy and retail listings for companies such as Viatek. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, playing video games, watching documentaries and catching up on the latest Vaporwave and Electro-Swing musical releases.