The noble Sub-Mariner, huh?

After the events of New Avengers #21-23, it will be hard to categorize Namor as either a hero or an anti-hero. His actions are so atrocious that I can't see any of his allies not trying to bring him to justice. Or have him executed for war crimes. Marvel's Oldest Hero has become its newest villain and that, my friends, is a crying shame.

Don't get me wrong. I never minded the obnoxious, arrogant, holier-than-thou Avenging Son. For the most part, he had justifiable reasons for his anger, not to mention biological. But he always was willing to do the right thing and for all his bluster, he had no problem joining forces with others: the Invaders, the All-Winners Squad, the Defenders, the Avengers and even the X-Men. And he was also a king/ruler of his people like Doctor Doom, the Black Panther and Black Bolt. He had responsibilities and agendas and protocols. He had hardships, tribulations and trials. He has seen family, friends and lovers murdered in front of him. He never considered himself a "super-hero" thus making him someone that you didn't want mad at you. I never had any trouble picturing Namor slaying his enemy if that was what he thought was warranted. "Imperious Rex!"

The Sub-Mariner has committed act of war before from Fantastic Four Annual #1 to Civil War #7 but they were always either forgotten or forgiven. He was a war hero during WWII, saved the day hundreds of times and could be considered Timely Comics' Superman. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby knew how important and different he was from any other character, featuring him in most of their Silver Age titles until he once more had an ongoing title in Tales To Astonish. Marvel has kept him in the spotlight with at least seven or eight different series from 1968 to today.

But now, all that has changed as Namor has admitted to twice trying to eradicate Wakanda and all its citizens in New Avengers #22 and destroyed a parallel Earth to save his own. And has formed his own evil Cabal (including Thanos!!!) to continue to do so. He's one of the stars of the All New Invaders but with the events of New Avengers, Captain America and Original Sin, I'm not sure how long that book will last.

There are many crimes that one can be absolved of but genocide? I don't know where Marvel is going with this but eventually there will be a reckoning. The Avengers will not Namor and his Cabal at all costs and a Marvel Legend and one of the Greatest Golden Age Heroes will be forever diminished. I won't say that he will be killed because why bother? Nor will I say that he'll never be a hero again. Because we all know better. But whether readers accept him again is another thing altogether.

But why do this to the Sub-Mariner in the first place?

My theory has to do with Marvel's principle priorities right now: movies and character ownership.

There has been many rumors about a Sub-Mariner movie or TV show for decades but nothing came from them. Universal was said to own the movie rights though Marvel claims to have them now. But what direction could a Sub-Mariner film go? One rooted in his 1939 version attacking NYC, with presumably no Human Torch to combat him. Or his Silver Age return, presumably without the Fantastic Four but again attacking NYC. Either way he's not coming off very heroic or sympathetic and if they show his reasons for attacking the Surface World then we become the villains of the movie! That's a hard sell either way.

Also, you would a mostly naked man in the starring role and that might make some people...uncomfortable. Which is why it's been years since they've made a Tarzan movie.

And the Sub-Mariner has an acknowledged creator, Bill Everett. This is undisputable even by Marvel. There is no committee/editorial input/multiple creator excuses. Bill Everett created the Sub-Mariner. Sadly Namor has been ignored by the producers of Disney XD's Ultimate Spider-Man, Avengers Assemble and Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes animated heroes where credit was given to Joe Simon and Jack Kirby for Captain America so we don't know if Everett would have credited as well.

Still, if Universal or Marvel did produce Sub-Mariner: The Movie, they would have to credit Wild Bill because they would have no choice because the fans, comic historians and come creators past and present (hopefully) would demand that they do. This isn't a Bill Finger situation. Legally, since Marvel has already acknowledged it, they would not be able to ignore him. Then there would be the outcry for the Everett estate for financial remuneration, if none were offered. It could even lead to losing the rights to the character as a worst case scenario for Marvel since Namor wasn't specifically created for Marvel/Timely.

It would probably be more grief than it's worth as the Sub-Mariner is neither an important Avenger nor X-Men.

The madness of Namor's current path has no positive spin. It may create drama and may lead to a good story but at what cost?

Comments?

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Philip Portelli said:

There has been many rumors about a Sub-Mariner movie or TV show for decades but nothing came from them. Universal was said to own the movie rights though Marvel claims to have them now. But what direction could a Sub-Mariner film go? One rooted in his 1939 version attacking NYC, with presumably no Human Torch to combat him. Or his Silver Age return, presumably without the Fantastic Four but again attacking NYC. Either way he's not coming off very heroic or sympathetic and if they show his reasons for attacking the Surface World then we become the villains of the movie! That's a hard sell either way.

They don't seem to know what to do with him in the comics, TV or movies. Are they afraid he would be ridiculed like Aquaman? Maybe they're setting him up to be a villain in a future Avengers movie.

Still, if Universal or Marvel did produce Sub-Mariner: The Movie, they would have to credit Wild Bill because they would have no choice because the fans, comic historians and come creators past and present (hopefully) would demand that they do. This isn't a Bill Finger situation. Legally, since Marvel has already acknowledged it, they would not be able to ignore him. Then there would be the outcry for the Everett estate for financial remuneration, if none were offered. It could even lead to losing the rights to the character as a worst case scenario for Marvel since Namor wasn't specifically created for Marvel/Timely.

Are you saying that Everett brought Sub-Mariner to Timely before he worked for them and somehow has a different claim than Simon/Kirby or Carl Burgos? Hard to believe he would get more than a line at the end of the movie saying "created by Bill Everett." Every creator has lost out legally and monetarily up to this point. Bill Finger was unique in that he was screwed by Bob Kane before DC had a chance to screw him.

The Sub-Mariner was originally supposed to be in Motion Pictures Funnies Weekly, a promotional comic that would be given out in movie theatres. However few, if any, were produced. Everett brought that first story to Timely when Martin Goodman needed material for Marvel Comics #1.

Not to sidetrack the convo, but how many Atlanteans are left, anyhow? Subby's kingdom has been destroyed so many times I have hard time believing there are very many -- which means his royalty is like that of the King of Lichtenstein.

Getting back on track, I have had trouble with the "incursion" storyline myself. Not just Subby, but all the main characters, are guilty of killing populated worlds. Even Beast, who has been cast as the voice of morality in the X-Men (especially vis-a-vis Cyclops -- a lifelong friend he dropped like a hot rock for doing a lot less than Wolverine does on a daily basis).

Quite frankly, Captain, I have no idea about right now but I never felt that there were that many to begin with, at least those loyal to Namor. Oh, he could muster up a decent armada to attack NYC but he couldn't take it over, much less the state. Wouldn't the best thing to do would be to drive inland? You never see Atlantis invade Kansas City or Denver. The desert would be a good place to regroup too.

The only way New Avengers makes any sense is that Reed, Stark, Beast, T'Challa and the rest created the "Destroy-THAT-Earth" device as a last resort, believing that surely someone would come up with an alternative. Also, that they somehow felt that the other Earths were less "real" if they don't go there or think about it too much.

Remember, they couldn't go through with it. But Namor did!

But why do this to the Sub-Mariner in the first place?

Maybe because it's Badass?

...Awesome?

As recently as a year ago, Marvel's movie tsar Kevin Feige said that the Namor rights were at Universal. Did they revert back recently?

Sadly, I think this is the reason.

Figserello said:

Maybe because it's Badass?

I do think you tend to overthink these things, Philip.  That's a lot of deep thinking about property ownership, Hollywood manouvrings and creator's rights that you are expecting Marvel as a company to apply to Namor, and to communicate to their lowly scribes.

(You were ascribing the same wide-ranging industrial-political motives to Alan Moore's mischeivous use of Harry Potter in LoEG, when the answers were much simpler:  Moore doesn't like Harry Potter.)

I don't mean to just brush off your concerns with my two words above.  I think Badass and Awesome are values that the writers are aiming to capture and convey, and having Namor commit genocide doesn't get any more badass... or awesome.

Anyway, your queries did spur me to post something that I had been sitting on for a while.  I try to answer why writers have taken this route in this blog post.

Take it and run.

I'm curious, not to derail this thread if it wants to stay Namor-centric...but...what's anyone's opinions on a theory that Marvel are using their most outrageous storylines and concepts up...because they're heading for their own 'Crisis-like' revamp of the entire line pretty soon??

Dangerous for me to comment here, but I'll give it a try.

The whole idea of the current Avengers storyline is to show what these characters will do when they are up against the wall and really have no choice. I consider it a false premise to begin with, it's the dumb guard way of storytelling where if you need the hero to escape the guard has to be dumb rather than the hero being clever.
Beyond that though I think Hickman has realized that it just doesn't matter what the characters do over the long term. Dr. Strange can murder heroes, Namor can murder worlds, Reed and the rest of them can know that the world is going to end and spend their last day visiting Val in Latveria, having sex with Storm, drinking in the desert or getting yelled at by a younger version of themselves instead of trying to do something and in a year or six months it won't matter. Fanboys will howl, as fanboys often do, while this is going on and then it'll all be forgotten as marvel moves onto the next big event. Hickman is righting in the moment of the story and if the character don't fit in the story that he wants to write he'll write the story anyway.

Sort of what I'm hoping for. The characters have become so weighed down with bad storylines that I think they'll collapse if they don't do something.



Richard Mantle said:

I'm curious, not to derail this thread if it wants to stay Namor-centric...but...what's anyone's opinions on a theory that Marvel are using their most outrageous storylines and concepts up...because they're heading for their own 'Crisis-like' revamp of the entire line pretty soon??

There was an argument somewhere that Tony Stark was Marvel's greatest villain. Difficult to single out Namor after all Tony and Reed have done. I think the answer is simply that Marvel doesn't care what they do to their characters as long as it sells a few books. This was probably just "after all Tony and Reed and Prof. X have been doing, how can we make...(randomly picks a character they haven't done something particularly horrible to yet)...Sub-Mariner look even worse?"

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