Fans of Red Lobster may now take comfort in that the Marvel cinematic world includes a seafood menu. Namor, the Sub-Mariner, is the name of the new antihero that was introduced in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. He is an underwater character (played on screen by Tenoch Huerta). Even while Namor is most known for ruling the independent country of Atlantis, which is located deep below the ocean, he has another significant role to play in the ongoing events of the Marvel universe.
The fact that Namor is a mutant place him in an awkwardly intimate relationship with the X-Men and their adversaries.
It is helpful to take a look back at the character Namor's history of tumultuous interactions with humans to understand why the character's position as a mutant is crucial. In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Namor gets a new origin narrative intertwined with creating a new oceanic civilization known as Talocan. This represents a significant improvement from the character's clunky comics debut, published 83 years ago.
In the comic book universe, Namor's parents were an Antarctic explorer by the name of Leonard McKenzie and a deep-sea Atlantean princess by the name of Fen. Their son was called Namor. Because of his hybrid status, he was not only a superhuman with the ability to fly and superhuman strength but also a member of the royal family of Atlantis. His origin is also the foundation of his notoriously problematic connection to humans, and it is this relationship that he has with humanity.
In the inaugural issue of Marvel Comics, published in 1939, he had his first run-in with several deep-sea divers, which resulted in him swearing to fight for Atlantis. One of the captions in the comic's first issue warned readers that "Namor dives into the water again – on his way to greater adventures in his battle against white folks!" a proclamation that must have been startling as well as exciting to readers throughout the Golden Age.
During the 1950s, when sales of superhero comics began to fall, Namor was nowhere to be seen. However, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby brought him back to life for Fantastic Four issue #4, and it wasn't long after that that the illustrious creative duo implemented a game-changing retcon. A caption in Fantastic Four Annual #3 from 1963, released nearly simultaneously with the first issue of the X-Men comic book, cheerfully reminds readers that Namor is "perhaps the first known mutant of our time!" And should the audience be inclined to dismiss it as a red herring, the creative team quickly ramped up their commitment to the idea.
When Thor was upset, he called Namor a "witless mutant" in Avengers #4 from 1964 (the same tale that thawed Captain America), published in the same year. And a little less than a year later, in 1964's X-Men #6, the villain Magneto, still in his original Snidely Whiplash mode at the time, examined newspaper stories about Namor and concluded that only a mutant could possess so much power. This led Magneto to try and recruit the Atlantean to his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, which failed.
Namor's refusal to accept Magneto's embrace established the pattern for the character's relationship with mutants for decades. For most of those years, Namor has identified as an Atlantean first and a mutant second, if at all. Magneto's embrace was the first time Namor encountered a mutant. Even during the character's relaunch in the 1990s' worldwide boom of all things X-Men, when the cover of his solo series copy proudly proclaimed him "Marvel's first and mightiest mutant!" Namor focused strictly on his newfound identity as a corporate raider and environmental warrior, not the mutant cause. This was the case even though the cover of his solo series copy proudly proclaimed him "Marvel's first and mightiest mutant!" in the 1990s. At one point in the late 1990s, the King of Atlantis even found himself on the verge of starting a nuclear war against his longtime adversary Magneto, the leader of his nation-state, Genosha. Magneto was the monarch of Genosha at the time.
When the X-Men made their first attempt at constructing a mutant homeland, it was on Utopia, an artificial island off the coast of California. This was the closest Namor has ever been to the X-Men, and it was all down to the pen of writer Matt Fraction. At first, Namor was wary of this incursion on his ocean territory and was eventually convinced to join up for mutual security. This union brought Namor into battle alongside the X-Men against the Avengers during the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover in 2012, where his rivalry with the Black Panther began. It should be no surprise that Namor's connection with the X-most Men's recent mutant homeland has become considerably colder due to the incident, which resulted in a devastating loss for the X-Men.
Namor's mutant status could position him as a critical figure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe mutant rollout — or, like in the comics, Namor could feel more solidarity with his oceanic brethren than surface mutants. Fans are eager for any references to the X-Men in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so Namor's mutant status could position him as a critical figure in the MCU mutant rollout. This would suggest that his position as a mutant is more of a red herring.