Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner may not be the real villain of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. One of Marvel’s oldest and most well-established characters, Namor the Sub-Mariner is finally making his debut in the MCU. Played by Tenoch Huerta, the MCU’s Namor has been redesigned to differentiate him from the DCEU’s Aquaman. Rather than ruler of Atlantis, he is now the king of an underwater kingdom offshore South America, named Talocan. Although he’ll clearly be an adversary for the Wakandans, Huerta claims Namor is more of an antihero – a remarkable claim, given the trailers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever have confirmed he will flood Wakanda.
That idea is lifted from 2012’s Avengers Vs. X-Men event in the comics, where Namor fell under the sway of a cosmic force known as the Phoenix. Exposure to the Phoenix exaggerated all Namor’s worst character traits, culminating in a devastating attack on Wakanda, a safe-haven to the Avengers at the time. His powers boosted, Namor flooded Wakanda, devastating the fictional African nation and triggering a long brutal war between Black Panther’s country and his own kingdom. Given Wakanda is landlocked, it’s reasonable to assume the Sub-Mariner’s powers will somehow be enhanced in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, allowing him to wreak havoc. If this is the case, then Namor could well be being manipulated, just as he was in the comics; but rather than be under the influence of the Phoenix Force, he could instead be controlled by the Serpent Crown.
The Serpent Crown’s Origin & Powers In Marvel Comics
There have actually been several variants of the Serpent Crowns in the comics, with three actually associated with an ancient civilization that once flourished on Mars. The most well-known Serpent Crown, however, was fashioned by the Elder God Set, who had been banished from Earth and trapped in a pocket dimension. He was able to exert some influence on his followers, however, and had them fashion the Serpent Crown to allow his power to manifest on Earth. Set’s worshipers lived on the continent of Lemuria, and it was lost when Lemuria sank beneath the waves – the basis for the legends of Atlantis. The Serpent Crown was lost in the cataclysm, only to be discovered 600 years ago. The Elder God Set was able to corrupt King Naga, ruler of one of Atlantis’ rival underwater cities, but its was lost again after its power was used to level that aquatic metropolis. Centuries later, it was recovered from the ruins of the city, which had become known as the City of the Ancients.
Marvel Comics’ Serpent Crown channels all the power of Set. One of the most powerful Elder Gods, he gave anyone who wore his crown abilities such as telekinesis, mind control, psychic blasts, energy manipulation, and even the power to control matter. A Martian Serpent Crown was used to make that planet’s atmosphere breathable to humans, and its influence only abated when it was removed from the head of its wearer.
Why Using The Serpent Crown Makes Sense For Black Panther 2’s Story
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever‘s Namor looks different to the comics, redesigned to align him with historic South American culture. The trailers have confirmed that, as ruler of Talocan, he is associated with the feathered serpent god Kukulkan. Several shots have shown Namor wearing a distinctive serpentine headdress, and it has featured significantly in the film’s marketing. This could potentially be the MCU’s design for the Serpent Crown. It’s interesting to note Namor isn’t shown consistently wearing this headdress, raising the possibility it is acquired over the course of the movie.
Trailers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever have shown a Wakandan expedition into the ocean, and it’s generally assumed the Wakandans’ quest for more Vibranium leads them to Talocan. Alternatively, though, they could instead discover the ruins of the City of the Ancients, and the Serpent Crown – the lost crown worn by the rightful ruler of Talocan – within it. Trespass upon such a sacred site, and the taking of such a beloved relic, would naturally prompt Namor to emerge from the depths to challenge the Wakandans and claim the Serpent Crown. Should Namor place the Serpent Crown upon his head, however, all his worst character traits would be exacerbated; his imperial tendencies would be exaggerated, explaining why Namor decides to wage war on the surface world. The Serpent Crown’s power would certainly allow Namor to flood Wakanda, even if it is landlocked.
This Black Panther Theory Can Make Namor’s MCU Future Better
The greatest advantage of this theory is that it sets Namor up for a fascinating role in the MCU’s future. Huerta stressed he was particularly excited to bring Namor to the big screen precisely because he wasn’t a villain; “Latin-Americans are always the bad guys in Hollywood movies,” he complained. “And now we are the heroes – or an anti-hero, in this instance.” Rather than position Namor as an outright villain in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, this Serpent Crown twist would allow him to be a much more complicated figure. The Serpent Crown would not have created the arrogance and imperialism roiling within Namor’s heart, but it would have amplified it. He would therefore be a much more tragic figure, manipulated into causing the chaos he is blamed for.
It’s clear the Sub-Mariner is important to Phase 4 onwards, especially given Namor has been confirmed to be a mutant. The Serpent Crown twist would allow Marvel to set him up as a truly sympathetic figure even if he is the one who arguably floods Wakanda, and it would leave Namor in a conflicted place; he would surely be torn between responding to the surface world’s distrust with further acts of aggression, and a desire to redeem himself after his deeds under the Serpent Crown’s influence. This theory would mean Black Panther: Wakanda Forever left Namor in a fascinating place, with Marvel Studios able to develop him either as an antagonist or an ally for the Avengers, depending on their overarching plan for Phases 4-6.