Namor: Marvel’s watertight attempt to separate him from Aquaman

Namor: Marvel’s watertight attempt to separate him from Aquaman

Editor’s note: The following contains minor spoilers about “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”


inside”Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” The aquatic antagonist known as Namor wastes no time in establishing himself as one of those confusing yet quirky characters that can polarize audiences: the sea-dwelling god uses a conch shell like a smartphone and has feathery wings on his ankles.

But portrayed by Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta Mejia in this brooding follow-up to 2018’s “Black Panther,” Namor commands considerable gravitas as the amphibious leader of an underwater tribe and deserves more than the inevitable comparisons he’ll get to his DC counterpart. . , Aquaman. (CNN, DC Films and Warner Bros., which produced “Aquaman,” are part of the same parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery.)

Historically, DC has pre-dated nearly all of Marvel’s legacy characters in the comic book pages that made them famous: Superman (1938) before Iron Man (1963), Batman (1939) before Moon Knight (1975), Wonder Woman (1941) Captain Before Marvel (1968), and more. It’s ironic that Namor is only appearing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe now, since he’s one of the few characters to debut in Marvel Comics.

Also known as the Sub-Mariner, Namor first appeared in comics in 1939, when DC’s Aquaman debuted in 1941. Of course, on the big screen, the opposite is true.: DC managed to beat Marvel to the punch in the superhero realm by releasing “Aquaman” in 2018 and introducing the character played by Jason Momoa in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” two years earlier. What’s more, “Aquaman” is one of DC’s biggest hits: The movie grossed more than $1 billion worldwide during its lifetime, according to Box office mojoWith a sequel on the way next year.

Marvel and “Wakanda Forever” director Ryan Coogler So they had their work cut out for them to make sure Namor and his world created a wow factor, while also deviating enough from what had been done before in “Aquaman.” And to the new film’s credit, it looks like all the sequences showing Taloqan’s watery realm — citizens playing swampy ballgames and hanging out on benches — use actual underwater photography and divers, as opposed to CGI.

Mejia — billed as “introduced” to “Wakanda Forever,” has more than 70 credits in Mexican cinema over 15 years, as well as last year’s “The Forever Purge” — Marvel Fortunately this new underwater world has found its own dynamic anchor. The character’s menacing presence and intimidating expression is tempered only by vulnerability, even cruelty, adding another element to the strange and tongue-in-cheek nature of Momoa’s aquatic superhero.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” also had the difficult task of presenting Namor’s origins in a way that was clear from those seen in “Aquaman” and Doing this in a film doesn’t just mean serving as an original story.

Both Namor and Aquaman claim the mythical Atlantis as their origin in their respective comic book source material — and DC already used Atlantis as their setting for “Aquaman” four years ago — so “Wakanda Forever” had the perfect opportunity to change things up with Namor’s backstory. The change comes through Taloqan, Namor’s home kingdom, which is inspired by Mesoamerican, indigenous to Central and South America Mythology is the switch Mayan and Aztec-based The setting allows the movie to explore a history of colonization that is much more rooted in reality, much in the way that the original “Black Panther” touched on Africa’s historic struggles with colonizers.

Arguably, Namor’s most notable departure from the comics original A revelation made in the film comes: The Aquatic Superbing appears to be the result of a tribal ritual using a mystical herb similar to how Black Panther manifests. (Meanwhile, Aquaman draws his superpowers from a parent of royal Atlantean heritage.) But then, The movie goes even further — on the eve of the fifth episode of the MCU’s Grandmaster Plan, Namor proclaims in no uncertain terms that he’s “a mutant,” a clear siren call of things to come with the mutant X-Men — a separate 20th Century Fox franchise formerly residing — The MCU will soon be included in the fold.

But before that happens, and thanks to Mejia’s fine performance in “Wakanda Forever,” Namor should be able to avoid many more comparisons to other sea goddesses and ride his own wave in the future.

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