Warning: 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 Marvel Comics history and one that appears to have a key role in the MCU going forward. 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 movie, 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 that shows how he got his unique powers and how his people, the Talokanil, came to live underwater. While the film solely focuses on Namor during this sequence, there are some aspects that allude to a far grander design – one that could lead to the X-Men.
In the flashback to South America 1571, we learn that Namor’s people were suffering from warfare and disease brought by Spanish conquistatdors, and so the shaman of Namor’s people prayed to their Mayan god, Chaak, for aide, and the god instructed them to fetch a glowing flower growing under the sea. The flower is seen sprouting out of the vibranium meteor that crashed into the ocean long ago, making it essentially an aquatic version of the Heart-Shaped Herb, the mystical plant that gives the Black Panther their powers. Namor’s mother was pregnant and feared the plant would harm her child, so they crafted her a bracelet that symbolized a promise that her son, the first born of their new people, would be their leader. After consuming the flower in a potion, Namor’s people fell into a deep sleep and awoke with a new aquatic physiology. They took to the ocean and founded the underwater kingdom of Talokan.
Seemingly due to Namor’s mother taking the potion while pregnant, and perhaps with some help from the god Chaak, he was born a mutant unlike any other. His most distinct 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.
How Wakanda Forever Sets Up the X-Men
There are some key elements from Namor’s origin that appear to lay the groundwork for the X-Men. Before this movie, it seemed as though the X-Men were going to join the MCU via the multiverse. After all, the Professor X of another universe showed up 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 alongside his Deadpool, with fans assuming that both characters will be jumping from the Fox X-Men universe to the MCU. However, Wakanda Forever offers another possibility. Perhaps Marvel is working 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 well 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 while pregnant is what created the X-gene in the first place, literally giving birth to the mutant race. Namor’s origin goes back to the 1500s, so the X-gene would have centuries to spread before we catch up to present day in the MCU.
In the Ms. Marvel series on Disney+, we learn Kamala Khan has a “mutation” of unknown origin, so perhaps the origin of her powers goes all the way back, hundreds of years, to Namor. Namor was the first mutant in Marvel Comics publishing history, so it’s fitting that he would be the original mutant in the MCU.
Exactly how the X-gene could have spread from a secret civilization under the sea to the surface world is a mystery. Perhaps Namor ventured to the surface world and bore 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 need to be a catalyst (like a godly being’s intervention) because vibranium alone does not a mutant make. It’s hard to say which of these routes the MCU will take, if any, but Marvel has certainly done the work to now have some kind of in-universe origin story for the X-Men.
Namor’s Role With the X-Men and the MCU Going Forward
As for where Namor and the X-Men go from here, we have some theories based on the comics. While Namor and the people of Talokan are still a secret civilization, it’s 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 of Atlantis, and his brutal nature often sees him labeled as 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 he’s gone on to become a member of the X-Men, Illuminati, and Avengers, among many others.
However, Namor usually makes choices that serve his own interests and that of his people, even if it’s at the expense of what other heroes perceive as “the greater good,” so he’s 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 continues onward. 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 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 the second the wind changes and he sees an opportunity to gain power for his people, don’t be shocked to see him join 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 wildcard to keep an eye on.
Be sure to check out our other Black Panther: Wakanda Forever pieces, including the original plot of Black Panther 2 and our review of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.