It’s pretty standard that we here at MCU Exchange do a lot of behind the scenes speculating and hypothesizing with each other behind the scenes. At some point, we thought that a glimpse into those conversations might provide some opportunities to engage our community in those discussions, thus the genesis of the One Shot.
One such discussion that is dear to me surrounds Marvel’s oldest character and biggest bastard: Namor, the Sub-Mariner. Namor’s film rights were sold to Universal at some time in the early 2000’s but after a series of failed attempts to give the monarch of Atlantis his own film, the rights returned to Marvel in 2014, as first reported by Borys Kit. At that time, it had long been speculated that Marvel Studios would want to get Namor involved in the MCU in some capacity and rumors at the time revolving around a Marvel meeting with Zac Efron put images of the newly buff star portraying Marvel’s great anti-hero in a lot of fanboys’ heads.
The report by Kit generated a great deal of interest at the time and led to Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige being queried about it during an interview with IGN about Guardians of the Galaxy, which was yet to be released:
IGN: Finally, there were rumours circulating awhile back that Universal and Legendary Pictures were developing a Sub-Mariner movie, but there was also some confusion about who holds the rights to the character. So could Legendary make that movie at this point?
IGN: So if a film were to happen it would be you guys making it?
Feige: Yes, but it’s slightly more complicated than that. Let’s put it this way – there are entanglements that make it less easy. There are older contracts that still involve other parties that mean we need to work things out before we move forward on it. As opposed to an Iron Man or any of the Avengers or any of the other Marvel characters where we could just put them in.
And so, it seemed, that a Marvel Studios Namor film was not in the cards. While the details are still about as clear as mud, much of our discussion here starts from us hypothesizing that Namor’s rights might be similar to those of the Hulk. If that’s the case, it isn’t that Marvel Studios cannot make a Namor film. Marvel Studios can use the Hulk and make a Hulk film, it’s just that Universal still gets first crack at distribution rights to the film. Given that Disney, who owns Marvel Studios, has been making money off the distribution of the Marvel Studios’ films since 2013’s Iron Man 3, they may not be too eager to share any sort of profits to what would likely be another box office hit with another studio. We like this idea because it makes things easier for us to talk about and sort of fits the parameters of what it seems Feige is talking about in the IGN interview, but we dislike it because it sort of sounds like “You’ll probably never see a Namor solo film.”
Operating from the assumption that Namor won’t get his own film, we have had a few conversations about where he might best fit in the MCU as an addition to another film, much like the studio is has done with the Hulk in The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron and is ramping up to do again in next year’s Thor: Ragnarok. While I’d argue that Namor has enough potential to fill out a trilogy, we’ve also had some pretty cool discussions about ways to fit the Avenging Son of Atlantis into the cinematic universe.
One of our favorite ideas sees Namor make his introduction as an antagonist to T’Challa in a sequel to the upcoming Black Panther. This idea really springs from the recent comic feud between the two monarchs that began at the conclusion of the Avengers vs. X-Men event (where Namor flooded and destroyed Wakanda) and continued on through Jonathan Hickman‘s run through the main continuity of Marvel NOW! that recently ended in Secret Wars. During this time, Namor and T’Challa followed an incredible arc that highlighted the strengths of both characters by drawing on their similarities. Given the chance, seeing Marvel Studios do a disaster film in which Wakanda falls under the rush of a wall of water might be a bit pricey, but the payoff of watching two of Marvel’s fiercest monarchs go to war is worth it.
Maybe I’m being a little lazy, but to be honest, Namor could be the antagonist of just about any Marvel Studios film given his long and twisted history with the main players. He’s definitely gone toe-to-toe with pretty much everyone, shouting a little “Imperius Rex” here and there while throwing a few haymakers while his pretty feet wings keep him in the air.
In this instance, I could see Iron Man 4 centering on Roxxon, a company that’s played a larger and larger role in the background of the MCU, doing some undersea exploration and disturbing Atlantis (a similar event happened in the comics when they dug into Lemuria). Of course nothing would drive the Prince of the Seas to anger quite like surface dwellers messing with his kingdom and I’m sure he’d rush headlong, and alone, into battle with the Roxxon vessels. For no particular reason, I’d hope that Iron Man was out and about, maybe even digging into what Roxxon was digging into, and felt obliged to step in and stop Namor, taking a good beating in the process. Obviously Namor and Stark could come to the realization that they should team up at some point, but a beaten up Stark headed back to regroup and think about his new opponent seems about as key to an Iron Man movie as car chases to James Bond. Stark and Namor could team up to take down Roxxon and perhaps Namor could even take his place running Oracle, his comic book corporation which has made more than a few Easter Eggy appearances in the MCU.
Marvel TV continues to build its team of Defenders on Netflix and most fans are pleased with the results so far and anticipate the future; however, comic book fans know that the real Defenders don’t just protect Hell’s Kitchen. An incredibly entertaining and nostalgic way to bring Namor into the MCU might be lining up the 3 original Defenders (Doctor Strange, Namor and Hulk) in a sequel to this year’s Doctor Strange. In the comics, the trio first came together to defend Earth against the extra-dimensional Undying Ones, led by the extra-creepy Nameless One. We know Marvel Studios loves Ruffalo’s Hulk and that audiences have loved seeing him in everything so far. We also know, as we talked about earlier, that neither Hulk or Namor are getting solo films anytime soon, so why not load up a Doctor Strange film with some total badasses and make it a fun nod to the old team?
As fun as all these hypotheticals are, none of them are the ideal way to bring Namor into the fold. Since we are just nerding out and talking about the best “what ifs” we can think of, there’s absolutely no reason not to mention the best “what if” of them all: Namor going up against the Fantastic Four in their first Marvel Studios film. I understand that Marvel Studios does not have the rights. I understand that they likely never will. That’s not going to stop me from dreaming!
Though the character was around long before the First Family, he made his debut in what we think of as modern Marvel Comics in Fantastic Four #4. While I am not behind a retelling of that story (because homeless, amnesiac Namor seems extra strange), I think having his first onscreen interactions in the MCU being with Marvel’s first superhero team is THE best way to do it. The FF are explorers so I’m sure there are any number of plots that could be derived about their exploration of the lost city of Atlantis! Introducing the team alongside Namor might make for a big film, but if this is the reunion of some of Marvel’s biggest names back under their wing, it should be a HUGE Phase 4 film. No FF/Namor story would be complete without including Sue’s “my mind’s telling me no, but my body is telling me yes” attitude towards the Atlantean and his never dying infatuation with her and in a universe where everything is connected, it would make for some interesting moments when they run into each other down the line.
While this is obviously the least likely scenario, it might be the one that got enough fanboys excited to go out and support another attempt at a Fantastic Four film franchise and the one that makes the 12-year old in me gleeful! How would you guys like to see Namor brought into the MCU? We’d love for you to join in the conversation below.