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Arguably the first superhero of what would become the Marvel universe, Namor the Sub-Mariner is one of the most under appreciated characters in this mythology. To dismiss him as Marvel's Aquaman would be wrong, because although he has had heroic moments over the decades, Namor is usually at home in anti-hero territory, and sometimes he's even comes across as a full-blown villain. Along with his countless comic book appearances, Namor has popped up in various animated TV shows and video games, but he has yet to make a theatrical debut. However, that may soon change.
For years, there were legal complications preventing Namor from being used in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but last week, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige revealed that Namor is finally available. However, he and the other MCU bigwigs are still figuring out if and when Namor will show up. This is a character too good to be left gathering dust on the cinematic shelf, so we've come up with some ideas on how Namor could be brought into this continuously expanding franchise. Let's start with a simple, yet nonetheless daunting, option.
His Own Movie
Namor the Sub-Mariner might not be well-known among the general public, but neither were Iron Man, Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy before their movies came out, and now look at how popular they are. Rest assured, Namor has more than enough material to warrant his own movie, from a cast of characters that includes allies like Namorita and enemies like Attuma, to exploring Atlantis and the other underwater kingdoms in the MCU, just like what Aquaman is doing for the DCEU.
Marvel could take the same approach it did with Captain America: The First Avenger and make Namor's movie a period piece. Namor fought against the Nazis during World War II in the comics, so his cinematic counterpart could follow suit if Hitler's minions sought to conquer Atlantis. Or perhaps the Namor movie could shift to a different time period, like at the turn of the 20th century or in a decade like the '60s or '70s.
However, I suspect that like with most of the MCU's offerings, a Namor movie would be set in the present day, though since the character ages very slowly, he could still be a century old, if not older. As for how Namor could be brought into the fold in the current time period in a standalone movie, no doubt the MCU would shine a more heroic light on him. Maybe he's spent his whole life living in Atlantis and feels apathetic towards humanity, but when an Atlantean rogue decides that the surface needs to be destroyed, Namor realizes that's going a step too far and interferes.
On the other hand, taking a more villainous approach with the character would work well with this next section.
Black Panther 2
T'Challa may have been one of Avengers: Infinity War's many causalities, but rest assured, we're not done exploring the Black Panther corner of the MCU by a long shot. Somehow T'Challa and the other dusted heroes will be restored to life in Avengers 4, and after that, we'll get Black Panther 2, which Ryan Coogler is confirmed to be writing and directing. If those in charge of the MCU would rather introduce Namor as an antagonist, Black Panther 2 is a great place to do it.
As mentioned earlier, there have been times in the comics when Namor the Submariner has been presented as a super villain. One example of this is when he destroyed Wakanda during the Avengers vs. X-Men storyline. Namor and T'Challa had a relatively good standing with one other in the years beforehand, but obviously once the former wiped out the latter's home, that scarred their dynamic. In a later storyline, T'Challa and Black Bolt were willing to leave Namor to die after he'd formed a cabal of villains to properly protect Earth, despite the fact that Namor had already turned against this cabal after realizing the other members had gone too far.
It would be fascinating for Black Panther 2 to follow T'Challa and Namor coming face-to-face and subsequently coming to blows with one other, leading to Wakanda and Atlantis going to war with one other. The only issue with this idea is that some fans may want Black Panther 2 to delve deeper into Wakanan culture and history, and throwing Atlantis into the mix would dilute that. Maybe there's a way to balance learning more about both nations, or maybe Namor and some of his subjects travel to Wakanda and we visit Atlantis in a later movie.
A New Fantastic Four Movie
Just like how we have the Avengers to thank for Captain America's return, we have the Fantastic Four to thank for Namor's reintroduction in the 1960s. In the team's fourth appearance, an amnesiac Namor was living in Manhattan Bowery district and had clearly seen better days. However, upon meeting the team, he regained his memories, only to learn that the place where Atlantis was originally located had been destroyed by nuclear tests. This is what kicked off Namor's vendetta against humanity, but more importantly, it was the first of many interactions he'd have with the Fantastic Four.
Like Black Panther 2, Namor could easily serve as a villain for an MCU-set Fantastic Four reboot. Remember, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer used the cosmically-powered Norrin Radd as an antagonist first, although eventually the team learned his true nature and he later retaliated against his master, Cloud Galactus. Something tells me Namor wouldn't be portrayed quite as benevolently, although he could also join forces with Marvel's First Family to defeat a common enemy later in the story.
Whether Namor is an ally or enemy in the Fantastic Four reboot, we would finally have the opportunity to explore his romantic interest in Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman. Namor has long been infatuated with her, and while we know that Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic, is her one true love, the water-dwelling monarch's presence would add some tension to their relationship.
A New X-Men Movie
Believe it or not, it can be argued that Namor has more in common with the X-Men compared to any other group of characters in the Marvel universe. He's been long classified as "Marvel's first mutant," and his ankle wings and enhanced strength beyond the levels of a normal Atlantean are due to his mutant heritage. Now granted, within the official canon, mutants like Wolverine and Apocalypse have been alive for much longer, but in terms of publishing history, Namor was #1.
Once the Disney Fox deal is finalized and both the X-Men and Fantastic Four properties are brought to Marvel Studios, it's expected that the "Fox era" of X-Men movies will come to an end, and these mutant characters will be rebooted to fit within the MCU. Rather than deliver other 'X-Men vs. Magneto' clash for their first outing in this continuity, why not pit the X-Men against Namor?
Namor may be a mutant, but make no mistake, his allegiance is first and foremost to Atlantis, and an X-Men movie would be other great place to feature him as a villain who attacks the surface. There would need to be a compelling reason for why the X-Men are thwarting this incursion rather the Avengers, but it would ultimately serve as the X-Men's big debut to the public and ideally help improve the outlook towards mutants.
No, we're not talking about that secret society. Within the Marvel comics mythology, the Illuminati refers to some of the most powerful and intelligent heroes working behind the scenes. The initial lineup consisted of Namor, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Black Bolt, Doctor Strange and Professor X. Coming together after the Kree-Skrull War concluded, these men decided to keep meeting in secret to share information with one other that would help deal with larger threats. Black Panther was also invited to this first meeting, but he refused to participate in future ones, predicting that someday the group will fall apart, and badly.
We don't expect the Illuminati to get their own MCU movie, and the lineup definitely won't look the same since Robert Downey Jr. might be retiring as Iron Man and Black Bolt has already been wasted on the Inhumans TV series. Still, there are plenty of candidates still available to form the MCU Illuminati, and Namor should be at the top of the list.
Just like how Nick Fury was present throughout the MCU's Phase 1, the Illuminati could be the connective thread between Phase 4 or a future Phase, growing more important with each appearance. Through them, we could slowly lear about Namor and what his deal is, and then once they finally come to the forefront, be it in an Avengers movie or some other ensemble piece, then Namor's full origins could be revealed. From there, he either sticks around as an Illuminati member or he could leave the group to carry out his own plans when he realizes that their methods of keeping Earth safe aren't extreme enough.