Namor vs. Black Panther

Who is Namor? The Comic Book History of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s Antagonist

We explore the comic book origins of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever's formidable antagonist.

Prince Namor (also called Sub-Mariner) is a monumentally important Marvel character who, until now, was largely confined to the comic book page. Initially, a fixture of the Golden and Silver Ages, Namor survived the leap to the Bronze (and then Modern) Age and became a popular character in Marvel Comics canon.

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Now, with Namor set to debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, casual MCU fans may be wondering who he is and why his involvement is such a big deal. Luckily, we have a guide for that, and it is also relatively spoiler free, so you can even read it before you head into theaters.

Namor’s Beginnings

Image via Marvel Comics

For most, Namor the Sub-Mariner first graced comics in 1939. Bill Everett had created the character for the 36-page movie promo magazine Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1, but the book never circulated. Instead, Namor debuted in Marvel Comics #1, which also marked the launch of Timely Comics (Marvel’s predecessor). Next to Captain America and the OG Human Torch, Namor ranked among Timely’s most popular characters.

English poet/literary critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 1798 poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner served as the inspiration for Namor. Coleridge’s work got Everett looking to what he deemed sophisticated naming conventions; the writer-artist eventually settled on “Namor,” which you’ll note is “Roman” spelled backwards.

Is Namor a Friend or Foe?

Image via Marvel Studios

The answer to that depends on the story and the perspective from which that story is written. That said, Namor is generally characterized as an antihero. He has teamed up with both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four on numerous occasions throughout his long history, but he has also fought them in just as many (if not more) instances. He’s a complex guy who will always put his kingdom and his people first.

Many consider Namor to be the first antihero in comics; his tendency to cause problems for superheroes is as old as he is, which clues us into how he will likely be portrayed in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

What’s Namor’s Role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever?

Image via Marvel Studios

Judging from its trailers and other promotional materials, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever looks to be putting Namor (portrayed by Tenoch Huerta) at odds with Wakanda. This totally tracks, too; in the comics, Namor generally only attacked when he felt that his undersea kingdom was threatened.

Given what we know so far, Namor will be fighting the grieving citizens of Wakanda for reasons that will be fully revealed in the movie. If the comics are anything to go by, Namor will likely transition from villain to antihero by the time the credits roll on Ryan Coogler’s blockbuster.

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Hayden Mears
Hayden was a freelance writer for Twinfinite that covered pretty much anything there was to in the realm of movies and television. He was responsible for timely reviews and features on the most popular content currently airing, including Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and Avatar.