WHO IS NAMOR THE SUB-MARINER?
THE MARVEL COMICS HISTORY OF NAMOR THE SUB-MARINER
Who is Namor the Sub-Mariner? What you need to know about this comic character before watching Black Panther Wakanda Forever.
Namor the Sub-Mariner is one of Marvel Comics' first two major characters. As such, Namor has touched nearly every corner of the Marvel comics universe, and he’s been a player in the Fantastic Four storylines, as well as Avengers, X-Men, and Black Panther storylines.
Namor is Marvel’s first Mutant, and in November, Namor will finally make an appearance in the MCU in Black Panther Wakanda Forever.
Namor's Atlantean Origins
Namor's first appearance was in Marvel Comics #1, August 1939. Namor's creator was legendary writer and artist Bill Everett, who would co-create Daredevil with Stan Lee nearly 25 years later. That first issue also introduced the original Human Torch (who was often Namor’s rival yet frequent ally).
Predating Captain America by a full year makes both Namor and the Human Torch Marvel Comic’s first superheroes.
Son of human sea captain Leonard McKenzie and Fen, an escaped Atlantean princess, Namor McKenzie possesses a slew of powers due to his hybrid DNA. Among Namor’s abilities is the power to breathe underwater like an Atlantean, though his skin is not blue like one.
Ten times stronger than any Atlantean or human, Namor has telepathic control over sea life and his own soldiers. Unlike Atlanteans or humans, Namor also has wings on his feet allowing him to fly.
Raised underwater by Atlanteans, Namor rejected the human aspects of himself. Because of his non-blue skin, he faced prejudice from his fellow Atlanteans as a child, giving Namor a massive chip on his shoulder–and an attitude to match. He had one companion in this predicament, his cousin Namora. She was also of mixed heritage and made Namor feel less alone. An MCU version of Namora will also appear alongside Namor in Black Panther Wakanda Forever.
Namor's Early Comic Years
In his early comic origins, Namor was an angry crusader who emerged from the depths of the ocean to attack American sea vessels without compunction. Namor hated the way “surface dwellers” were polluting the seas, and he took violent recompense for them any chance he got. He once nearly flooded all of Manhattan, but the original Human Torch stopped him.
Namor in Other Comic Lines
Namor appeared in anthology books such as Marvel Mystery Comics and also headlined his own Sub-Mariner comic series. He also fought alongside Captain America as part of the All-Winners Squad. This forged an unlikely friendship between these two polar opposites that lasted decades.
But after WW II, superheroes lost their luster, many superhero books lost sales, and Namor went away in 1949. Aside from a brief revival in the 1950s, Namor was MIA from comics until the Marvel Age of Comics began.
Namor often fought the Fantastic Four and even teamed up with their arch-enemy Doctor Doom. But he also helped them out on several occasions, too.
In 1968, Namor's revival was so popular he earned his own series again, “Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner,” which lasted until 1974. This time, Marvel Comics significantly expanded Namor's mythology and he got a modern roster of villains all his own, including the Atlantean warlord Attuma, Krang, and Tiger Shark. Attuma would become Namor’s biggest enemy, coming to blows with the Atlantean Prince on several occasions. During this era, Namor even received a battle cry, shouting “Imperius Rex!” like a cinematic Roman soldier (ironic because Namor is also the word “Roman” backward).
Namor's Romantic Interests
In the comics, Namor was romantically interested in the Fantastic Four's Susan Storm, the Invisible Woman. But she was engaged to Fantastic Four team leader Reed Richards, she always denied his advances despite being attracted to the handsome Atlantean Prince. That never stopped him from trying, though. This flirtation would go on for decades.
The Marvel Age of Comics and Namor the Sub-Mariner
Although there were titles named “Marvel Comics” dating as far back as 1939, the publisher kept changing names. They were known as Timely Comics, then Atlas. In 1961, the publisher officially became Marvel Comics with the publication of Fantastic Four #1. In the fourth issue, Johnny Storm, the new Human Torch, found a bearded homeless man with amnesia he recognized as Namor. By tossing him in the ocean, he restored Namor’s memories, and the Sub-Mariner was back as we know him.
Namor's Early Comic Costume Look
Namor's classic costume look was simply a pair of skimpy swimming trunks, which was pretty risqué for the times. It appears the MCU is keeping Namor’s classic look for Black Panther Wakanda Forever.
Is Namor an enemy of Wakanda?
In Namor's own mind, he was always a cosmic god. During Avengers vs. X-Men, Namor flooded Wakanda for defying him, making an enemy of its king, the Black Panther. Based on trailers, it seems this is not the storyline the MCU will be using in Black Panther Wakanda Forever.
Is Namor a Hero or Villain in Marvel Comics?
Namor the Sub-Mariner became one of the most valuable characters in Marvel Comics from that point forward. He was a lead character in Doctor Strange’s team book “The Defenders” for much of that title’s long run. There, Namor forged a unique bond with the Hulk since they both hated humanity in equal measure. Then in the ‘80s, he was also an Avenger for several years. While on the team, he often butted heads with fellow members (and equally arrogant royal) “Hercules.”
Namor was also known to menace the Marvel comics whenever he was in a foul mood and teamed up with villains if it suited him. He co-headlined the series “Super-Villain Team-Up” with Doctor Doom. Sometimes, he’d work with Magneto, then turn on him on a dime. You just never knew where Namor was going to land in the hero/villain spectrum, which made him an exciting wild card.
Namor in Black Panther Wakanda Forever
While we don't yet know to what extent we will see Namor in Black Panther Wakanda Forever, it is unlikely we will be getting Doctor Doom. It will be interesting to see how they portray Namor: as an ally, villain, or anti-hero and just how many X-Men we may get.