Caveat: Full spoilers ahead for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever!
With the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, audiences are introduced to Namor the Sub-Mariner (Tenoch Huerta), who is an important figure in the history of Marvel Comics and who appears to have a key role in the future of the MCU. That is, of course, because he is a mutant with strong ties to the X-Men. We’re going to break down what we learned about mutants in the film, how that can help introduce the X-Men to the MCU, and what Namor’s role will be in the MCU going forward.
What Wakanda Forever reveals about Namor and mutants
We get an in-depth look at Namor’s origin story in Black Panther 2 showing how he gained his unique powers and how his people, the Talokanil, came to live underwater. While the film focuses solely on Namor during this sequence, there are some aspects that hint at a much grander design, one that could lead to the X-Men.
In the 1571 South America flashback, we learn that the Namor people were suffering from wars and diseases brought by the Spanish conquistadors, so the Namor people’s shaman prayed to their Mayan god, Chaak, for help, and the god ordered them to look for a bright flower that grows 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 Grass, the mystical plant that gives Black Panther his powers. Namor’s mother was pregnant and feared that the plant would harm her child, so they made her a bracelet symbolizing the promise that her son, the firstborn of her new village, would be her leader. . After consuming the flower in a potion, the people of Namor fell into a deep sleep and woke up with a new aquatic physiology. They went into the ocean and founded the underwater kingdom of Talokan.
Apparently due to Namor’s mother taking the potion while she was pregnant, and perhaps with the help of the god Chaak, a mutant unlike any other. His most distinctive features were his pointed ears and the wings on his ankles, not to mention his super strength and the ability to breathe both underwater and on the surface.
Marvel’s Namor Explained: Who Is The Sub-Mariner?
How Wakanda Forever Sets Up the X-Men
There are a few key elements of Namor’s origin that seem to set the stage for the X-Men. Before this movie, it seemed like the X-Men would be joining the MCU across the multiverse. After all, Professor X from another universe appeared in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and recently Ryan Reynolds revealed that Deadpool 3 will feature the return of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine along with his Deadpool, with fans assuming both characters will jump from the Fox X-Men universe to the MCU. However, Wakanda Forever offers another possibility. Perhaps Marvel is working on 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 consuming the vibranium-infused herb during pregnancy is what 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 reach the present day 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 goes back hundreds of years to Namor. Namor was the first mutant in Marvel Comics publishing history, so it’s fitting that he is the original mutant in the MCU.
Exactly how the X gene could have spread from a secret undersea civilization to the surface world is a mystery. Perhaps Namor ventured to the surface world and had children, passing on his unique mutant DNA. Maybe there are even more vibranium meteor 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, if any, of these routes the MCU will take, but Marvel has certainly 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 the MCU in the future
As for where Namor and the X-Men go from here, we have a few theories based on the comics. While Namor and the Talokan people 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 will soon exist) in the MCU.
In the comics, Namor’s first priority is always his home in Atlantis, and his brutal nature often labels him an anti-hero, which is why he’s been a part of both heroic and villainous teams over the years. He started out as a member of the heroic Invaders, and later became a member of the X-Men, Illuminati, and Avengers, among many others.
However, Namor usually makes decisions that serve his own interests and those of his people, even if it is at the expense of what other heroes perceive as “the greater good”, which is why he has also been a part of the Dark X-Men and the evil version of the Illuminati known as the Cabal.
The way Namor was portrayed in Wakanda Forever is a perfect snapshot of the character’s anti-hero nature and a taste of what to expect from him as the MCU progresses. If and when the X-Men join the MCU, Namor would be a good fit for the team because, if our theory is correct, they’re all people under the mutant gene, so he’d feel an affinity with them. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he also joined the MCU’s version of the Illuminati and/or the Avengers. But the moment he turns the tide and sees an opportunity to gain power for the people from him, he’s not surprised to see him team up with the likes of Doctor Doom or even the next Thanos.
Of all the characters introduced in Marvel’s Phase 4, Namor is definitely a wild card to watch out for.
Be sure to check out our other Black Panther: Wakanda Forever pieces, including the original Black Panther 2 plot and our Black Panther: Wakanda Forever review. And check if there is also a post-credits scene from Black Panther 2.
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