Warning: This article contains spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
With the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, audiences are introduced to Namor the Submariner (Tenoch Huerta), who is an important figure in Marvel Comics history and appears to have a key role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe ahead of the future. This is of course because he is a mutant with strong ties to the X-Men. Let’s break down what we learned about mutants in the movie, how that can help introduce the X-Men into the MCU and what Namor’s role will be in the MCU going forward.
What Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Reveals About Namor and Mutants
In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever we are given an in-depth look at Namor’s origin story, showing how he gained his unique powers and how his people, the Talokanil, came to live underwater. Although the movie focuses solely on Namor during this sequence, there are some aspects that hint at a much bigger design, one that could lead to the X-Men.
In the flashback to South America in 1571, we learn that the people of Namor were suffering from war and diseases brought by the Spanish conquistadors, so the shaman of the Namor people prayed to their Mayan god, Chaak, for help, and the god told them to look for a bright flower that grew under the sea. The flower is seen sprouting from the vibranium meteorite that crashed into the ocean long ago, essentially making it an aquatic version of the heart-shaped herb, the mystical plant that gives Black Panther his powers. Namor’s mother was pregnant and she feared that the plant would harm her son, so they made her a bracelet that symbolized the promise that her son, the first born of her new people, would be the leader of she. After consuming the flower in a potion, the people of Namor fell into a deep sleep and awoke to a new aquatic physiology. They entered the ocean and founded the underwater kingdom of Talokan.
Apparently, because Namor’s mother took the potion while she was pregnant, and perhaps with some help from the god Chaak, he was born a different mutant than the others. His most distinctive traits were his pointed ears and ankle-length wings, not to mention his super strength and the ability to breathe both underwater and on the surface.
How Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Sets Up The Arrival Of The X-Men
There are some key elements of Namor’s origin that seem to set the stage for the X-Men. Before this movie, it looked like the X-Men were going to join the MCU across the multiverse. After all, Professor X from another universe appeared in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Ryan Reynolds recently revealed that Deadpool 3 will feature the return of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine alongside his Deadpool, with fans assuming both characters they will jump from Fox’s X-Men universe to the MCU. However, Wakanda Forever offers another possibility. Maybe Marvel is cooking up a way for mutants to appear more naturally.
When Namor tells his origin story, he uses the term “mutant” to describe himself, which we all know is the term modern Marvel society uses to describe anyone with the X gene. It could be that Namor’s mother Namor consuming the vibranium-infused herb while pregnant created the X gene in the first place, literally giving birth to the mutant race. Namor’s origin dates back to the 1500s, so the X gene would have centuries to spread before we catch up with it today in the MCU.
In the Ms. Marvel series on Disney+, we learn that Kamala Khan has a “mutation” of unknown origin, so perhaps the origin of her powers dates back hundreds of years to Namor. Namor was the first mutant in Marvel Comics’ publishing history, so it stands to reason that he’s the original MCU mutant.
How the X gene was able to spread from a secret civilization under the sea to the surface world is a mystery. Perhaps Namor ventured to the surface world and had children, passing down mutant DNA unique to him. Perhaps there are more vibranium meteorite sites in the world that affected other people in different ways, although there would have to be a catalyst (like the intervention of a divine being) because vibranium alone doesn’t make a mutant. It’s hard to say which of these routes the MCU will take, if at all, but Marvel has done the work to now have some sort of in-universe origin story for the X-Men.
Namor’s role with the X-Men and with the future of the UCM
As for the course of Namor and the X-Men, we have a few theories based on the comics. Although Namor and the people of Talokan remain a secret civilization, it is only a matter of time before their existence is revealed to the rest of the world. After that happens, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Namor get involved with the various factions that exist (or may soon exist) in the MCU.
In the comics, Namor’s first priority is always his home, Atlantis, and his brutal nature often causes him to be labeled an anti-hero, which is why he has been a part of both heroic and villainous teams over the years. He started out as a member of the heroic Invaders, and has gone on to be part of the X-Men, the Illuminati, and the Avengers, among many others.
However, Namor often makes decisions that serve his own interests and those of his people, even if it is at the cost of what other heroes perceive as “the greater good”, which is why he has also been part of the Dark X-Men and from the evil version of the Illuminati known as the Camarilla.
The way Namor is portrayed in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a perfect snapshot of the character’s anti-hero nature and a taster of what we can expect from him as the MCU continues. If the X-Men join the MCU, Namor would be a good fit for the team because, if our theory is correct, they are all one people under the mutant gene, so he would feel a kinship with them. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he also joined the MCU’s version of the Illuminati and/or the Avengers. But by the time he turns the wind and sees an opportunity to gain power for his people, don’t be surprised if he joins the likes of Doctor Doom or even the next Thanos.
Of all the characters introduced in Marvel’s Phase 4, Namor is definitely one to watch out for.
Don’t forget to check out our review of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.