Origins: Namor The Sub-Mariner

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From Hugh of @hughv302

On November 11th, Black Panther Wakanda Forever will be hitting the big screen and it’s almost guaranteed to be an emotional roller coaster for many people. While we are going to see who will be taking the mantle of the Black Panther we will also be seeing the introduction of another major Marvel character from the pages of comics, Namor the Sub-Mariner. But who is Namor? Why does he seem to be against the nation of Wakanda in the upcoming film? Is he a villain or a hero? Find out more below!


Namor has had multiple origins, incarnations and adaptations to his character but for this overview we are going to focus on his first origin and some of his story arcs. As with most live action comic book adaptations, not everything you will read here is guaranteed to be accurately depicted in the film as there might be many changes made based on the filmmaker’s creative liberties or influences from other comic book stories involving Namor. Namor was born in the capital city of the Atlantean empire, then located off the Antarctic coast. His mother was Emperor Thakorr’s daughter, Fen, and his father was an American sea captain, Leonard McKenzie, of the icebreaker Oracle; they had fallen in love and married aboard ship while she was, unbeknownst to him, spying on the human intruders. When Fen did not return, Atlantean warriors attacked the Oracle, evidently killing McKenzie, and returned Fen to her kingdom. The pink-skinned mutant Namor was subsequently born among the blue-skinned Atlanteans. He became the Prince of Atlantis, and a warrior for his people against the “surface-dwellers”. He became friends with New York City policewoman Betty Dean, and when the U.S. entered World War II, he began fighting the Axis powers. Namor is injured after the war, and is shown living in the flophouse Bowery district of Manhattan as an amnesiac derelict. Regaining his memory in this story, he becomes enraged upon learning that the original site of Atlantis was destroyed by nuclear testing, its inhabitants evacuated. Namor vows revenge on humanity, but after several attacks thwarted by superheroes; he finds his people and launches an unsuccessful invasion of New York City. Namor later returns to Atlantis to marry his royal cousin, Lady Dorma. The evil princess Llyra of Lemuria, another undersea culture, kidnaps and replaces Dorma at the wedding, hoping to usurp Namor’s kingdom. Though Namor’s marriage to Dorma is still official, she dies as a result of Llyra’s machinations. After being deposed from his throne, Namor joins the superhero team the Avengers. He is briefly married to Marrina, an aquatic alien and a member of the Canadian super-team Alpha Flight. She is later presumed killed, but she is later revealed to be in a coma, of which Namor is unaware. Father-daughter oceanographers Caleb and Carrie Alexander, theorizing that Namor’s propensity toward rage is due to his half-human half-Atlantean blood chemistry, equip Namor with a monitor to warn when he has to seek either air or water. This allows Namor to control his metabolism and presumably his rage. He collects sunken treasures to finance his secret purchase of a corporation he renames Oracle Inc., which he turns to conservation and environmental purposes. Namor once again rules Atlantis, and Oracle begins sponsoring various superhero groups like the charitable super-group Heroes for Hire. So while Namor is considered a hero there have been times where he has also fought against fellow heroes in need to do what is best for his people and the kingdom of Atlantis. 

Powers & Weaknesses: 

Namor’s powers come from his being a unique hybrid of Atlantean Homo mermanus and mutant Homo superior physiologies. Because of his unusual genetic heritage, Namor is unique among both ordinary humans and Atlanteans; he is sometimes referred to as “Marvel’s first mutant,” because, while the majority of his observed superhuman powers come from the fact that he’s a hybrid of Human and Atlantean DNA, his ability to fly can’t be explained by either side. Namor’s body is specially developed for underwater conditions, granting him specialized blood circulation to withstand freezing temperatures and highly developed vision to see clearly even in murky ocean depths. This hybrid physiology means he can survive indefinitely underwater or on land, though he would still need occasional contact with water to survive. Like all Atlanteans, Namor is superhumanly strong, but his physical strength is greater than that of any member of his superhuman race. The exact level of his strength is dependent upon his physical contact with water and his strength diminishes slowly the longer he is out of contact with it. Namor’s physical prowess is so great that he has been referred to as one of the most powerful beings on the planet. Namor’s strength was later increased and far exceeds his normal levels. If he was somehow injured, Namor’s body can heal damaged tissue faster and much more extensively than a human or most Atlanteans. Namor’s accelerated healing is at its peak while he is immersed in water, but does diminish the longer he is out of contact with water or if he is completely dry. Atlanteans also age much slower and live much longer than human beings with the average Atlantean lifespan being about 120 years. Namor can run and move at speeds greater than even the finest human athlete. His speed is greatest, however, while swimming. Whereas most Atlanteans can swim at speeds greater than 60 miles per hour, Namor has shown that he can reach a speed of over 300 knots or 345 mph. Like all Atlanteans, Namor can breathe indefinitely underwater due to having gills located behind his ears. Unlike most Atlanteans, however, Namor can also breathe on land indefinitely as well, without the aid of breathing devices, whereas most Atlanteans can only survive being out of the water for a matter of minutes. Namor possesses a telepathic rapport with all forms of marine life. He is able to mentally communicate with most forms of marine life and can mentally persuade them to do his bidding. Namor can also mentally communicate with other Atlanteans and possibly humans as well, should he develop his power to its fullest. Namor also possesses vestigial “wings” on both of his ankles, by which he seems to fly at the speed of escape velocity when exerting himself fully. His flight speed at “normal” levels is enough to enable Namor to fly faster than military aircraft. Since the “wings” by themselves could never carry Namor, it has been speculated that he uses the wings for steering and flies in some other manner, perhaps by telekinesis. Namor’s ability to lift weights when flying is sufficient to enable him carry a 50-ton anchor with one hand without a discernible loss of speed/momentum. 

What to expect? 

Based on the two trailers we have been given so far, this new adaptation of Namor has his heritage and the culture of Atlantis completely changed from the comics but his powers and abilities appear to be accurate to his comic counterpart including his ability to fly. His motives for attacking Wakanda are currently unknown but based on his actions in comics it can be assumed he wants something from Wakanda that could benefit his people and is willing to fight for it if need be. He is more than likely to be a temporary adversary to our main characters in the film before a common enemy arises that makes him take a heroic turn. Depending on where things go by the end of the film it can be assumed that Namor may appear in future projects and join up with the Avengers like he does in comics. His inclusion can lead to many paths due to the character’s unpredictable nature and the changes to his heritage and culture could allow for a more unique take of the character that is more memorable than in comics as well as stand apart from DC’s Aquaman who shares a lot in common with Namor despite the fact Namor was made first. No matter which way they go I’m excited to see what they do with this portrayal of the character.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters on November 11th, 2022.

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