8 surprising comic secrets about Namor, the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever villain

Namor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Namor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Namor is one of the first Marvel heroes ever, and he's finally coming to the MCU in his first live-action adaptation courtesy of actor Tenoch Huerta in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The latest trailer for the movie shows him flitting through battle with his winged ankles, and speaking to his people about Wakanda and the surface.

The MCU is slightly altering Namor's lore by changing the name of his undersea kingdom from Atlantis to Talocan, a different underwater city based on Aztec mythology, inspired in part by Huerta's own Indigenous Mexican ancestry.

That said, Huerta's MCU Namor still looks every bit the classic "Imperius Rex!" (Namor's catchphrase) version of the character comic book readers know and love from writer/artist Bill Everett's 1939 creation. He's got the green trunks, said winged ankles, and pointed ears. 

With these similarities and the footage we've seen for Wakanda Forever so far, it seems there's plenty of room to incorporate any (or all) of these eight surprising comic secrets about Namor the Sub-Mariner.

1. Namor is a mutant

Namor with the X-Men

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Namor the Sub-Mariner (pronounced like the Seattle baseball team) is a mutant and has at times even been considered Marvel's 'first' mutant. 

Though he was created decades before the X-Men, Namor was later defined as a mutant thanks in part to his hybrid Atlantean and human DNA, along with an actual X-gene that makes his powers even stronger and more vast.

Namor has also been a member of the X-Men and was one of the so-called 'Phoenix Five,' the mutants who shared the power of the Phoenix during Avengers vs. X-Men - which is when he initially led Atlantis in attacking Wakanda.

It's interesting to consider Namor's hybrid physiology and X-gene, which resemble the revised origins of Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel in the MCU. Could Namor wind up also being a mutant in the MCU?

2. Namor predates Aquaman

Marvel Comics #1 (1939) panel

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Though moviegoers and casual fans alike may be more familiar with DC's Aquaman, Namor actually came first in comic books - and he was one of Marvel's very first breakout characters.

Namor debuted in 1939's Marvel Comics #1 (and was created a few months earlier for the unreleased Motion Picture Funnies #1), back when the publisher itself was called Timely Comics. Aquaman came two years later in 1941's More Fun Comics #73.

Of course, both characters follow in long traditions of people from under the sea, and they each draw from different comic book interpretations of the myth of the lost continent of Atlantis.

In fact, many of the more mythical aspects of their histories, such as people born of two different worlds and lost undersea kingdoms, were well defined in pop culture many years before either character was introduced.

Nonetheless, Marvel's Atlantis is coming to the MCU as Talocan, a different mythological city adapted from Aztec mythology, likely to separate it somewhat from the already screen-famous Aquaman version.

Still, if we're talking superhero comic representations of those myths, Namor comes first.

3. Namor was part of Marvel's first superhero crossover

Marvel Mystery Comics #8 panel

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Marvel has a longstanding tradition (or maybe fight record?) of its heroes going to battle with each other which goes back to its earliest day in its roots as Timely Comics - and Namor was part of the very first battle between Marvel heroes, squaring off with the original Human Torch.

That Fire vs. Water style showdown set the stage for the concept that would, decades later, become the idea of the full-fledged superhero crossover.

Though the entire fight takes place in the pages of two issues of Marvel Mystery Comics (as the Marvel Comics title had been renamed), it appears in both Human Torch and Namor's features, presenting different sides of the conflict.

Appropriately, when Namor returned to the Marvel Universe in the early '60s, he was an antagonist of the Fantastic Four - fighting the new Human Torch, Johnny Storm.

4. Namor has a romantic history with multiple Marvel heroes

Fantastic Four: 1234 #2 cover excerpt

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Tenoch Huerta's Namor is quickly becoming a heartthrob among MCU fans, and that raw magnetism has been practically baked into the character since his modern introduction.

In Marvel Comics, Namor's early interactions with the Fantastic Four - and their subsequent rivalry - were often driven by Namor's intense attraction to Sue Storm, and his, let's just say, incredibly problematic attempts to kidnap her and make her his undersea queen.

Over the years, Sue has often shared an uneasy attraction with Namor and has even retreated to his protection in Atlantis at times of great danger. 

But Namor's gallivanting in the Marvel Universe isn't limited to Sue Storm Richards. He's also hooked up with Emma Frost of the X-Men, and even some of his non-human (but still humanoid) undersea allies.

Frankly, Namor is one of Marvel Comics' most openly and notably amorous characters - something the MCU has been criticized as lacking. So fans finding some sexiness in the character's admittedly limited onscreen presence so far (we've seen just one trailer) is right on track.

5. Namor has secret mutant powers

Namor using electric eel powers

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

It's well-known (and easy to assume if you don't already know the character) that Namor has the standard undersea ability to breathe underwater, along with accompanying physical strength and durability to survive in the ocean's depths.

But there's more to his powers than the obvious - and we don't just mean communicating with sea life.

Incidentally, Namor has communicated with fish and other underwater creatures from time to time, but in modern years, he's most often needed some kind of magical artifact to do so.

That's not all the so-called Sub-Mariner has under his toolbelt. The wings on his ankles aren't just for show - they actually allow him to fly. And in some of his earliest modern stories, Namor could use the abilities of fish and other sea creatures, including the shocking abilities of an electric eel, and even the self-inflation of a pufferfish.

6. Namor is one of Captain America's oldest allies

Namor with Captain America and Human Torch

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

As one of Marvel's (then Timely's) earliest breakout heroes in the late '30s and early '40s, Namor quickly found himself in league with both his former enemy the original Human Torch and Captain America as the Invaders (a team name that was added retroactively in the '60s).

Fittingly, in Marvel Comics, Captain America and Namor have been friends and allies - and occasionally enemies and rivals - since before Captain America was frozen in ice at the end of WWII.

(And yes, that means that in Marvel Comics, Namor is over 100 years old. Thanks, mutant hybrid Atlantean physiology).

But like we said, those years of friendship between Cap and Namor haven't been without their obstacles. When Namor first led Atlantis to attack Wakanda in comic books, Captain America vowed to help Black Panther strike back - even threatening to kill Namor himself for his destructive attack.

7. Namor has often teamed up with Doctor Doom

Namor with Doctor Doom

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

While we're on the subject of Namor and his frenemies, aside from Captain America, one of Namor's longest associations is with none other than Doctor Doom - though it's hard to call anyone 'friends' with the Latverian dictator. 

In fact, Namor has been allied with Doctor Doom far longer than he has any modern Marvel hero other than Cap, with the pair first teaming up way back in 1962's Fantastic Four #6.

The pair first bonded over hatred of Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, as well as being monarchs of their own kingdoms. But that bond blossomed into out-and-out villainy, with Namor and Doom even co-starring in the cult classic '70s title Super-Villain Team Up and its Giant-Size spin-off.

Though Namor has also often opposed Doom - and also tried to double cross him a time or two during their team-ups - Namor found himself once again working with Doom and his so-called Cabal during the lead-up to the 2015 event Secret Wars.

Namor was also allied with the Illuminati at the same time, meaning the Atlantean monarch was effectively playing both sides as the Multiversal Incursions that were threatening the Marvel Universe built toward Secret Wars itself.

8. Namor founded a team with Doctor Strange

Namor with Doctor Strange, Hulk, and Silver Surfer as the Defenders

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Namor's been a hero, a villain, and even an Avenger, but his first ongoing heroic team-up was with Doctor Strange and the Hulk, forming the original incarnation of the Defenders, with Silver Surfer quickly joining to earn a status as a founding Defender.

The so-called 'non-team' which only came together when trouble dictated, rather than living in an Avengers Mansion-type headquarters, headlined their own cult-favorite Defenders title through the '70s, with Namor coming and going as the years went on. He's also occasionally joined modern incarnations of the team.

The Defenders' rosters also grew beyond those original four heroes to include numerous others such as the original comic version of Tessa Thompson's fan-favorite MCU hero Valkyrie, and other characters who have or will recently come to the MCU, including She-Hulk, Hercules, Clea, and even Howard the Duck.

And of course, there's the other Defenders incarnation, not related to the original, based on the heroes of Marvel's Netflix series.

Before Black Panther and Namor go to war in Wakanda forever, here's everything you need to know.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)