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Marvel Studios is only weeks away from its final movie in Phase 4 of the MCU, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which will take fans back to the hidden African nation of Wakanda. Part of this story will also bring a new villain/anti-hero into the mix with the fan-favorite Marvel Comics character: Namor the Sub-Mariner.
While the first trailer for Black Panther 2 gave fans just a tease of this underwater warrior, the second look dove deep into his backstory and the power he’ll possess in the upcoming sequel. Tenoch Huerta will bring the role to life following longstanding issues over the character’s rights behind the scenes. The actor is set to deliver an epic character that should play a key role in the MCU for years to come.
As is the case with every new character in the MCU, fans are also looking at how he’s been adapted from the comics and what changes have been made to slide him seamlessly into the Marvel Studios narrative… So how is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Namor different from his comic counterpart?
In the second trailer for Black Panther 2, Winston Duke’s M’Baku may have uncovered an intriguing change to Namor’s backstory by uttering this one line of dialogue:
“They call him K’uk’ulkan. The Feather Serpent God.”
While Namor will still be a mutant in the movie, as he is in the comics, he appears to be seen as something of a god-like figure by his people, as well as by the Wakandans. Strangely, K’uk’ulkan has only been mentioned by name a few times in comics centered around Namora, but there could be another big MCU tie-in here as well.
Looking back at recent MCU projects like Thor: Love and Thunder and Moon Knight, Marvel Studios has slowly introduced the concept of the gods into the story, particularly with the use of avatars. In Moon Knight alone, Marc Spector served as Khonshu’s avatar by becoming Moon Knight while Ammit used Arthur Harrow and Taweret used Layla El-Faouly.
Could Namor be allowing himself to serve as K’uk’ulkan’s avatar, giving him an even greater realm of powers to use as he rules over Talocan? This would even give him enough power to go toe-to-toe with whoever becomes the Black Panther, as the Wakandan ruler is helped by the Panther goddess Bast in their quest to protect the African nation.
Hopefully, this will be explained more fully once Namor’s backstory is explored in Black Panther 2, although this could be an explanation as to why he’s known by the name of the feather serpent god. In any case, that title alone will give him plenty of confidence and strength to do what he needs to do in order to protect his own people.
Over the past few years, superhero fans have gotten familiar with Jason Momoa’s Aquaman in his own solo movie and the two versions of Justice League from 2017 and 2021. As most know, DC’s underwater hero comes from the oft-utilized city of Atlantis, which is nearly identical to Namor’s backstory on the Marvel side of the equation.
Marvel Studios was aware of this similarity early in the development process for Black Panther 2, leading to this home being adjusted for Namor in his big-screen arrival.
This time, Namor will come from Talocan, a fictional underwater nation that will serve as his home country instead of Atlantis. Interestingly, Talocan doesn’t have any natural ties to a location in Marvel Comics, although it does connect back to ancient history from the real world’s Aztec and Mayan legends.
Huerta explained that this change will help Namor feel a little more realistic, grounding the character and his home “in real cultural significance and cultural traditions” to help bring the Latinx community into the spotlight. This adjustment will only help Black Panther 2 hit on deeper levels with the viewing public by bringing just a bit of reality into this developing fictional story, even if it features people who can breathe/live underwater.
Marvel Studios has done its due diligence in giving its characters comic-accurate designs, particularly in Phase 4 of the MCU.
This is actually the case for a lot of what Namor brings to the table, as he’ll come into the MCU with the pointy ears, winged ankles, and green trunks that he dons regularly in the comics (even if the trunks give him more coverage than the usual speedo). But the character will also come with some noticeable adjustments in this department as well, largely due to Huerta’s Mexican heritage and the change in Namor’s home from Atlantis to Talocan.
This version of Namor will don a jaguar-inspired headdress as part of his costume along with a few piercings on his ears, nose, and lip – this also includes a jaguar-inspired throne in his palace under the sea. Namor usually isn’t one to use a ton of extra material for his outward appearance, largely so that he can move through the water as effortlessly as possible.
As Huerta doesn’t wear all of this regalia all the time, it’s likely something that will be used more ceremonially with his status as the king of Talocan, particularly as he meets the Wakandans for the first time.
With Talocan being inspired by ancient Mayan civilizations, combined with Huerta’s Mexican heritage, this change is likely in play to bring some real-world culture into the movie to add to Namor’s expanding story. Especially with this being Namor’s first appearance, it should help add a new layer of depth to both his history and his future within the MCU.
In Marvel Comics, Namor is oftentimes shown as one of the most isolated characters in the universe while being one of the most egotistical as well. This usually plays out with him showing a great deal of overconfidence in himself and his abilities while not taking much responsibility for his actions, and he isn’t one to care very much about anything from the world above the ocean surface.
While some of that will still be present in Black Panther 2, this will be a take on Namor that fans have never seen with regard to how he acts around other people.
On the big screen, Namor will take on much more of a leadership role with his country, looking out for his people rather than just himself as Wakanda enters the equation. As noted by Huerta in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:
“Maybe the most important twist in the character is that he’s not a selfish person. He’s taking care of a community. He’s not an individualist. He’s part of a tribe.”
Huerta has also spoken about how T’Challa actually inspires Namor in the movie itself, with the late King of Wakanda being somebody that the underwater ruler looks up to, even as the two nations engage in battle with one another. This lends even more to Namor avoiding the more self-centered traits that he usually boasts on the page.
How this works in concert with the ego he’s sure to have is a mystery, although it will certainly humanize the antihero even further as he tries to help his country and its people find their place in a changing world.
No matter what changes come with Namor’s MCU introduction, he’ll bring enough of his comic history for fans to recognize the epic character as he makes his MCU debut. This will be Marvel Studios’ first chance to let Namor shine in the spotlight that he deserves after a long rights battle with Universal, hopefully setting him up for many more entries in the future.
Although he’s been marketed as the villain of Black Panther 2, viewers are expecting that he’ll team up with the Wakandans eventually as they figure out what the bigger threat truly is. Then, he’ll hopefully have the opportunity for more adventures both on his own and as part of a team while the MCU pushes him to new heights.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will debut in theaters on Friday, November 11.