Wakanda Forever’s Namor Is Different From the Comics

Editor’s Note: The following contains Black Panther: Wakanda Forever spoilers.Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has introduced a few characters into the MCU that have historically been associated, to some degree, with Wakanda in the comics, but the biggest name among them is comics antihero Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía). The character, in the comics known as Namor, the Sub-Mariner, actually predates Marvel Comics, appearing first in Marvel Comics #1 in 1939, a release from Marvel’s predecessor Timely Comics. He has a long history, and certainly one that can only be briefly touched upon over the course of one film (especially given the title isn’t Sub-Mariner: Wakanda Forever). So how does MCU Namor match up against his storied comic book equivalent? In order to know, it is best to start with what we know of the character in print.

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Who Is ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s Namor in the Comics?

Wakanda Forever’s Namor Is Different From the Comics
Image via Marvel Comics

What we know of Namor’s history in print is long and complicated, so for our purposes here, we’ll hit the highlights. “Marvel’s First Mutant” was born in the capital city of Atlantis, the offspring of a human American sea captain and Princess Fen, the Atlantean daughter of Emperor Thakorr. His pink skin made him stand out from his blue-skinned Atlantean kin, and his unique genetics gave Namor the ability to withstand extreme underwater pressures, superhuman strength, speed, agility, durability, and longevity (and, somehow, flight, courtesy of small wings on his ankles). He soon took on the mantle “Prince of Atlantis”, defender of the kingdom against the surface-dwellers.

Namor’s deep commitment to the role meant that in any given scenario, he could be the antagonist, the hero, the antihero, or even a business executive, depending on how the situation impacted the Atlantean people. For example, his initial appearance saw him as an enemy of the United States, one who threatened to bury Manhattan under a tidal wave due to their provocations, but when World War II came, Namor joined forces with the Allies against the bigger threat to Atlantis : Nazi Germany. His allegiance to Atlantis over the years has seen Namor join forces with heroic teams like the Defenders, the Avengers, and the X-Men, but also with villains like Doctor Doom and Thanos (fun fact: Namor also has ties to Canadian super-team Alpha Flight after being married to team member Marrina for a time).

How Is Namor’s Story Different in the MCU?

Manuel Chavez as Young Namor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Image via Marvel Studios

The MCU’s Namor is a mutant as well, but stemming from an entirely different set of circumstances. According to the MCU’s revised history, there were at least two vibranium meteors that fell on Earth: one in Wakanda, and another in the Pacific Ocean near the coast of Mexico. Like Wakanda’s heart-shaped herb that gives the nation’s protector the Black Panther superpowered abilities, the second meteor spawned an underwater herb. In 1571, a shaman’s vision in a Mesoamerican community prompted its people to ingest the herb. Doing so gave them gills, the ability to swim fast, enhanced strength, agility, and an ability to bond with underwater creatures.

Fleeing from the persecution of Spanish colonizers, the Mesoamerican community abandoned their homeland and built the hidden underwater kingdom of Talokan (note Atlantis, with DC’s Aquaman having called dibs). One of these people was Namor’s mother, who was pregnant at the time she ate the plant. This mutated Namor while he was still in the womb, leading to additional abilities like longevity and lungs that could breathe air (and the ability to fly with wings on his ankles… still weird). This Namor, whose skin tone also differs from his blue-hued chin, has been alive for hundreds of years, which, combined with his special powers, has led the Talokan people to consider the King of Talokan as a god.

How Comics & MCU Namor Compare

Tenoch Huerta Mejía as Namor in Talokan in front of the mural in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Image via Marvel Studios

It goes without saying, then, that how the two Namors got their mutant powers differ significantly, although any differences in those powers are negligible at best. That said, the power of flight with the ankle wings, this writer feels, doesn’t translate well on screen. The strongest comparison between the two is their fierce commitment to protecting their respective kingdoms from the surface world. Namor in Marvel Comics has run the gamut from hero to villain to antihero and all points in between in defending Atlantis’ interests. MCU Namor is clearly set up as the film’s antagonist, with an inherent hatred of the surface rooted in the history of his people’s persecution. He’s clearly, though, not above allying himself with whomever most benefits Talokan. But where Marvel Comics’ Namor has compassion for individuals over mankind as a whole, MCU Namor is harsher in that regard, flat out looking to kill Riri Williams because she created a tool for locating vibranium, bringing unwanted attention to his hidden kingdom.

Visually, the two share ankle wings, pointy ears, gold bracelets, and that’s pretty much it. MCU Namor has the iconic green swim trunks, albeit a looser fit. Otherwise, his look is heavily influenced by Mayan and Incan cultures, including piercings, his elaborate headdress, and neckpiece. Comics Namor, on the other hand, is most commonly associated with the green swim trunks, and little else. There have been variations over the years, of course, including one costume that makes him look indistinguishable from DC’s Black Adam, but it is the classic Charles Atlas-like figure from his debut in the pages of Marvel Comics #1 that lingers.

Namor’s Final Scene in ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Most Parallels the Comics Character

tenoch huerta mejia as namor in black panther wakanda forever
Image via Marvel Studios

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ends with Namor agreeing to return to Talokan, in return for Wakanda’s promise to help keep their world hidden. Namor keeps the door open, though, as he explains to Namora (Mabel Cadena) that Wakanda is sure to turn to Talokan for help when the world inevitably closes in on them. What’s interesting is in how Namor doesn’t allude to how he would act when it happens. This precarious stance – Namor being willing to join forces for a greater purpose, but just as willing to launch a crushing attack on Wakanda for perceived transgressions – feels particularly reminiscent of Namor in the comics. Namor’s comic book history represents a character that can literally go in any direction at any time, an enigma whose actions are virtually impossible to predict, and in this one ending it’s made clear that the MCU Namor is very much the same, lending mystery to the future of the MCU.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is out now in theaters.

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