Saturday, February 18, 2017

Rumor Has It... Namor is Coming

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As I mentioned in the Weekly MCU Review, there are some indicators pointing to a secret project in Hawaii involving Namor the Sub-Mariner.  Currently Marvel’s Inhumans is preparing to enter production in Hawaii, so there may be a connection there, but that is all we know so far.

But, of course, you don’t come here to only be told what we know for certain; if there’s one thing I do more than anything else (aside from the actual reviews), it’s idle speculation!  So let’s get to speculating!  First, we will run through who Namor is and why he is so important, and then we will talk about possibilities for his character.

Who Is Namor?

Short answer:  Namor the Sub-Mariner is called the “first mutant,” though that has a very different meaning in his case than it does with the X-Men property.  Namor was one of Marvel Comics’ first superheroes, alongside Jim Hammond, the original (android) Human Torch, and a couple others.  Namor has been involved in a lot of major storylines over the years, going all the way back to the first-ever crossover comic featuring 2 characters from separate comics—way back in 1940, Namor and the Human Torch actually appeared together in Marvel Mystery Comics #8-10 when Namor attempted to attack New York City and was fought off by the Torch.  The two heroes would team up with Captain America during World War II to form the Invaders.  Namor is also a member of the Illuminati and sometime-rival of Black Panther (along with pretty much everyone else).

Namor is the son of a human ship captain and an Atlantean princess.  This unique heritage gives him various superpowers, such as flight (thanks to wings on his feet because it’s the 1930s), strength, speed, the ability to live underwater, and a dozen other abilities.  He is a prince and eventually ruler of Atlantis, the undersea kingdom of the Atlanteans (an offshoot of humanity that developed underwater).

Also, Namor is relatively unique in being one of the few “duplicate” characters with a DC counterpart that appeared after the Marvel version, as Namor debuted in 1939 and Aquaman did not debut until 2 years later in 1941.

Why Hasn’t He Appeared Yet?

There are a lot of reasons why no one has done anything with Namor on the screen yet.  The first and most obvious answer is that his rights are or were about as weird and confusing as the Hulk’s:  as far as I know Universal owns/owned at least part of his rights, though they may have reverted back to Marvel by now.  The other reason is that the idea of an aquatic superhero has been mocked far too much in the media for anyone to consider him for a movie, at least before DC decided to “break the ice” (heh heh) with Jason Momoa’s Aquaman.  There is also the question of how a character created in the 1930s would connect with a modern audience, though that concern has certainly been mitigated by Marvel’s recent successes, particularly with Captain America.

My guess is that the biggest reason nothing’s happened with the character so far is that no one really knew what to do with him.  His story of being king of a super-advanced race cut off from and in competition with humanity—who will fight humanity or fight for humanity depending on which will serve his people best—is very interesting, but how will audiences respond?  As an aquatic hero, they could turn him into a crusader for “ecological justice,” but that would just turn him into a wet Captain Planet!  If they are going to do something with him now, it probably means that someone has finally figured out how to make him relate to modern audiences.

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What Might They Do?

There are two clear options:  either they are including him in Marvel’s Inhumans or they are giving him his own TV series/movie.  This is the first we have heard of anything involving Namor, so at this point either option is equally valid.

It would make a degree of sense for Namor to appear in Inhumans as an antagonist:  the Inhumans are another advanced offshoot of humanity and have a relatively-long history with Namor and Atlantis.  Black Bolt and Namor are both members of the Illuminati, though they do not always agree.  They have been aligned in the past because both groups distrust humans; they have fought in the past, as well.  There was even a run of Inhumans a while back in which it was revealed that the Inhumans had settled Attilan on the wreckage of old Atlantis, and Black Bolt offered to return Atlantis to the ocean in exchange for Namor’s agreement to stay out of his plan for the Inhumans to go back into hiding.

As of now we know very little about the Inhumans series beyond the confirmation that it will focus on the Royal Family; we don’t even know the setting!  Consequently, we really can’t do more than speculate on how Namor would fit into the story being told in that series.  If he does appear, it would almost certainly be as a sometime antagonist and occasional reluctant ally.

Given that one piece of evidence is from Production Weekly (“Sub-Mariner” as a production title), it seems more likely that Namor is getting his own TV series or movie.  Either would be a possibility, but considering how little information has yet been revealed about it, I don’t think it is going to be a movie.  If anything, they may be shooting a pilot for a TV series.  If the pilot is received well, it will be announced as a TV series, but for right now it may not be past that stage yet.  Considering that the Terrigen was released in the water supply, Namor could certainly consider that an act of aggression by the surface-dwellers against Atlantis, particularly if some Atlanteans touched the Diviner metal left on the ocean floor and were killed by it.  This could offer an interesting connection with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for the series to explore.


Ultimately, as with many of these rumors, there is very little to go on beyond idle speculation.  I will be very excited if something does come of this, but if nothing happens I won’t be overly surprised.  However, given that one of the results of the Infinity War in the comics was that the Illuminati divided the Infinity Stones among themselves to protect them, I do wonder if that will happen after Avengers 4.  We already have a few members of the Illuminati in the MCU (Tony Stark, Black Panther, Doctor Strange), with more rumored/confirmed to be on their way (Black Bolt, Namor).  Could Marvel TV be ramping up for an Illuminati event by introducing Black Bolt and Namor to the MCU before Avengers: Infinity War?  That would be exciting!

How would you like to see Namor appear in the MCU?  Do you think Marvel will have an Illuminati event at some point after Thanos’ defeat?  Let me know in the comments!

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