The MCU has a lot of characters. I’m talking a lot, a lot. Heroes perish and ten or more new characters appear to fill the void they’ve left behind. But there are those characters whose grandeur surpasses the crowd surrounding them. There are some apparent standouts regarding new characters who made their debut in Phase 4; Shang-Chi, Sylvie, Eternals Thena and Makkari, Yelena Belova, and Moon Knight. And then there’s Namor.
Yesterday I shared my updated MCU ranking with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever becoming my second favorite movie in the entire franchise! I never thought I’d see the day when I would enjoy a film more than Captain America: The Winter Soldier but the impact this movie had and is still having on me is truly special.
The heart of this film is a story about grief but in the midst of all that grief is a wealth of fascinating characters whose stories impact the movie in exciting ways. And while Shuri is the lead character I’m finding myself drawn to the antagonist of the film in the same way that happened when I watched Black Panther four years ago.
In Black Panther, we were introduced to Erik Killmonger, a one-off villain whose impact was so special I refused to believe he had died. Michael B. Jordan took the character to incredible heights with the screentime that he had, becoming my favorite character in the movie and the best villain in the MCU…until Thanos arrived a few months later in Infinity War.
Well, Ryan Coogler has done it again by creating another well-rounded, three-dimensional antagonist in Namor.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
Namor was a character I was never that interested in. He was the guy with the green-scaled underwear with wings on his feet and pointy ears. And because I knew Aquaman more I was a bit skeptical about Marvel introducing their half-Atlantean hero a few years after DC had debuted theirs so well.
Well, Ryan Coogler did something quite genius, completely changing the characters’ origins by making him MesoAmerican and the leader of an underwater MesoAmerican-inspired nation called Talokan. And in the role of Namor, he casts Tenoch Huerta, a man who prides himself on his Indigenous ancestry and calls out the colorism/racism in Latin American media.
The depth Tenoch Huerta brought to Namor made him the first live-action comic book character that I feel embodies the term, anti-hero. His actions and his ruthlessness against outsiders are all based on his love and devotion to his people. You could say his motivations for what he does are honorable and kind of heroic. But what makes him an antagonist is that he doesn’t differentiate the real bad guys from people who aren’t villainous at all, hence he kills the leader of Wakanda, Queen Ramonda, and a bunch of Wakandans because of a misunderstanding.
Despite his somewhat honorable intentions, you can’t help rooting against him in the latter half of the film because of the horrible thing he has done. But by the end, after being defeated in battle against the new Black Panther, Shuri, he’s willing to rein in his aggression against the Wakandans for an alliance in the future.
And while his story has hit the pause button for now I can’t help feeling excited to see where his journey takes him moving forward in the MCU. We know that something is being built around the vibranium-as-a-powerful-resource storyline involving Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character, Valentina Fontaine. That will inevitably get the Talokan involved and that alliance with the Wakandans potentially be created. Ooh, the future is very bright for the MCU in this corner of its storytelling.
I’m just so, so happy about Namor and the actor that portrays him. I haven’t felt this level of joy and excitement about a new MCU character since Black Panther/Chadwick Boseman. The level of representation he’s presenting to people all over the world is powerful and is hopefully a stepping-off point for more brown-skinned and dark-skinned Hispanics to get more meaningful roles in entertainment rather than always having to be highlighted in a derogatory manner.
Oh, and I just want to give a shoutout to Namor’s theme music in Wakanda Forever which is absolutely incredible. It’s so powerfully menacing and has now become one of my favorite themes in the entire MCU. Ludwig Gorannsson is an Oscar winner for a reason and you’re reminded why when you hear the soundtrack he created for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. It’s mindblowing stuff.
All in all, I just wanted to share my thoughts about Namor and I can’t wait to see him again in the future. And now we’re getting Jonathan Majors’ Kang in a few months?! We are in a time when most MCU antagonists are treated as more than just afterthoughts and that’s honestly a relief.
What did you think about Marvel’s newest antagonist? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
I thank you for reading and I hope you have a tremendous day.