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Namor is more than simply the antagonist of Black Panther

Namor? More, please!
Namor is more than simply the antagonist of Black Panther

The latest Black Panther: Wakanda Forever teaser makes it plain that conflict is on the way. The film’s antagonist, Namor (Tenoch Huerta), arrives like a tidal wave at Wakanda’s darkest hour. It’s reminiscent of a long-running comic book rivalry between Black Panther and Namor, and while the structure of the tale will undoubtedly alter, the grounds for a Black Panther sequel starring Namor remain just as compelling: He’s more than simply a villain. He’s more than that.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Ryan Coogler describes how the MCU version of Namor differs from the comic book version. His kingdom is Talocan, a Wakanda Forever fabrication influenced by Mayan culture and designed to be comparable to Wakanda; a fabled land of riches hiding in plain sight.

“One of the things the picture tackles with is foils — characters that live in opposition, yet there’s a thread of connection,” Coogler told EW.

It’s a remark that emphasizes why Namor is the ideal Black Panther villain: He is T’Challa’s equal and polar opposite in many aspects, the sovereign leader of an unconquered nation fiercely committed to protect itself from the outside world. While T’Challa finally learnt in the first Black Panther that it was time to reform his country’s customs, it appears Namor and Talocan have not yet reached that point.

This is also reminiscent of T’Challa and Namor’s comic-book connection. Comics Namor (also known as the Sub-Mariner) has a lengthy and intricate past, but his feud with the Black Panther originates from a simple point that makes them such appealing adversaries: they are not superheroes. They are monarchs.

Namor and the Black Panther function on a whole different level than the majority of the Marvel Universe’s other characters. They are first and foremost committed to their people, and all other causes come second. This frequently pits them against characters who would usually be their allies — the Avengers for T’Challa, the X-Men for Namor (Comics Namor is a mutant, which is…interesting given how the MCU has been using the word) — and gives their actions broader consequences for the universe at large.

Simply simply, when one of these characters enters a tale, it expands. The finest comic book writers lean on this (writer Jonathan Hickman’s extended career on Avengers and, notably, New Avengers deals extensively with T’Challa and Namor’s enmity).

With the unfortunate death of Chadwick Boseman, and therefore T’Challa, the MCU version of this narrative will have to take a somewhat different path. However, all of the storytelling weight remains. Wakanda is more than one person, and whomever takes up the mantle of Black Panther will have to fight Namor and put opposing views about what kind of person a leader should be to the test – with the pride of each nation on their side.

The relationship between Black Panther and Namor has always been more intricate than good and evil, right and wrong. Saving the planet isn’t enough for them; saving a people, their identity, and their indelible impact on the world is what matters most.

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