Namor: Marvel’s narrow efforts to make it different from Aquaman

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


in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,The aquatic antagonist known as Namur wastes no time establishing himself as one of those deceptive but bizarre characters that can draw an audience: the ocean-dwelling deity uses conch shells like smartphones and has feathered wings on his ankles.

But as Mexican actor Tenoc Huerta Mejia portrayed him in this racy follow-up to 2018’s Black Panther, Namur also commands great charisma as the amphibious leader of an underwater tribe, deserving more than just the inevitable comparisons he’ll have with his DC counterpart. , Aquaman. (CNN, DC Films, and Warner Bros., which produced Aquaman, are part of the same parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery.)

Historically, it precedes DC Marvel with nearly all of its old characters in the pages of the comic books that made them famous: Superman (1938) came before Iron Man (1963), Batman (1939) before Moon Knight (1975), Wonder Woman (1941) before Captain Marvel (1968) and so on. It’s an ironic end that only Namor appears in the Marvel Cinematic Universe now, because he’s one of the few Marvel Comics characters that came first.

Also known as the Sub-Mariner, Namor made his comics debut in 1939, while DC’s Aquaman debuted in 1941. Of course, on the big screen, the opposite is true.: DC managed to outsmart Marvel in the underwater superhero universe, releasing “Aquaman” in 2018 and introducing the character played by Jason Momoa in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” two years earlier. On top of that, “Aquaman” remains one of DC’s biggest hits: the movie grossed over $1 billion over the course of its life, according to Box Office Mojowith a sequel on the way next year.

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Ryan Coogler, director of Marvel and “Wakanda Forever” So their work was cut short for them to ensure that Namor and his world created a wow factor, while also different enough from what had been done before, namely in “Aquaman”. And for credit for the new movie, it seems that many if not all of the sequences showing the underwater kingdom of Talokan — where citizens play water ball games and hang out on benches — use actual underwater photography and divers, unlike CGI.

In Mejía — described as being “presented” in “Wakanda Forever,” despite having more than 70 credits in Mexican cinema over 15 years as well as last year’s The Forever Purge — Marvel Fortunately, she has found her own dynamic anchor for this new underwater world. The character’s threatening and intimidating presence is only mitigated by weakness, even torture, in his expression, adding another element different from the twisted, tongue-in-cheek nature of the Momoa aquatic superhero.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” also had the daunting task of presenting the origins of Namor in a way that swims free from that seen in the movie “Aquaman”, and Doing this in a movie is not intended to act as an origin story only.

Namor and Aquaman both claim the mythical Atlantis as their original point in their comic book source material – DC actually used Atlantis as the setting for “Aquaman” four years ago – so There was a window of opportunity to turn things around when it came to Namor’s backstory in ‘Wakanda Forever’. The change comes via Talokan, the home of the Kingdom of Namur, inspired by Central America, the indigenous people of Central and South America Mythology. switch to this The Mayas and the Aztecs The setting allows the film to explore the history of colonialism more rooted in reality, similar to how the original Black Panther also touched on Africa’s historical struggle with colonizers.

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you can say , The most prominent deviation from the Namur comics the origin It comes in a made-in-movie reveal: The supernatural aquatic beings seem to be the result of a tribal ritual that uses a mystical herb, just like how the black panther came into being. (Meanwhile, Aquaman derives his superpowers from a parent of Atlantean royal heritage.) But thenAnd the The movie goes even further — on the eve of Phase 5 of the MCU’s Master Plan, Namor says in no uncertain terms that it’s “mutant,” a clear call to things to come, with mutated X-Men — who previously inhabited a separate 20th Century Fox franchise — will be played. Soon integrated into the MCU fold.

But before that happens, thanks to Mejía’s meticulous performance in “Wakanda Forever,” Namor should be able to avoid many comparisons with other oceanic demigods, and ride his own wave ahead.

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