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?


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While he has made some heroic acts, I've pretty much always thought of Namor as more of a villain than a hero. So if they officially make him a bad guy now, fine by me.

There was a difference between Namor as a villain and Dr. Doom or the Red Skull. Now the difference seems to be he's worse.

To you, not to me.

...and all the while Marvel are still trousering your hard-earned cash, Mark.

Philip Portelli said:

Marvel could do this to the Sub-Mariner because they have nothing financial to lose in doing so as opposed to Iron Man (though they had to rehabilitate him after Civil War. "You did terrible things, Tony!" "Well, I don't remember them so it doesn't count. So there!" "Oh, okay, I guess.")

Not too long ago one might have said nearly the same thing about Iron Man(1). Moreover Namor has a strong personality, and might work well on film. You could do great visual stuff these days in the underwater scenes.

(1) To be fair, he did always have a series. And he may have been more widely known before the movie than I realise due to his cartoon appearances.

It's a compelling story and a thought provoking one but it's not a superhero story. Now I can hear some of you say: "It doesn't have to be!" but if you're using superheroes then it's a superhero story. There should be some morality and ethics involved. Too bad that Marvel's not publishing What If anymore but then some of you might (or might not) say: "But then it doesn't count!" or "Then there are no real consequences!" but my point is that in a couple of years it won't matter either way. Marvel will turn the Silver Surfer bad or Mister Fantastic or Howard the Duck.

Someone will hit the reset button with 2016's big crossover and we're off again!

Travis Herrick said:

While he has made some heroic acts, I've pretty much always thought of Namor as more of a villain than a hero. So if they officially make him a bad guy now, fine by me.

Maybe it has more to do with where I've been exposed to him, but I've never really thought of Namor as a villain... an anti-hero, yes... a villain, no.  With his history in the Defenders, he's saved the earth as much as any of the Avengers and even when he's done things against humans, he's pursued things pretty honourably and forthrightly rather than maliciously or sadistically.  He's always had ethics that he's stuck to even when they haven't agreed with the more mainstream Marvel hero's ethics.  Making him an unscrupulous, genocidal villain doesn't seem in character to me.  Back against the wall Namor would be less likely to take the easy way out rather than more likely.

Philip Portelli said:

  • Part of my problem is that there probably will be no long term consequences. In two or three years (if not sooner), someone will want a sexy and suave Sub-Mariner to flirt with the Invisible Woman for the hundredth time or need him for another Defenders revival for the hundred-and-once time and all this will be forgotten or explained away as a parallel Namor or evil clone or Skrull or Space Phantom ad infinitum!

If someone is acting out of character to begin with, it bothers me less when a retcon is introduced to remove the guilt for their actions, (ex. Hal Jordan).  Something does need to be done in story though, no hand waving it away that that happened three years ago and forgiveness has ensued.

I have to agree with this.  Not that it matters, since done is done, but I have to agree.

Border Mutt said:

Back against the wall Namor would be less likely to take the easy way out rather than more likely.

Border Mutt said:

If someone is acting out of character to begin with, it bothers me less when a retcon is introduced to remove the guilt for their actions, (ex. Hal Jordan).

I much preferred Jordan's sacrifice at the end of Final Night. Saving Earth in this way went a long way towards redemption without removing his guilt.

Having just read Avengers #34, Captain America has declared war on the Illuminati who has condemned Namor for his actions and unknowingly to all has formed his own Cabal.

Now we have our Marvel Crossover Event for either this winter (after Axis) or next year! *sigh*

I know that this is like beating a dead fish but here we go again!


In last month's Avengers #9, Prince Namor, the resurrected Sub-Mariner who has been allied with Jean Grey over in X-Men Red has, once again, declared war on the Surface World! And he means it this time!!

He savagely smashes his ally, Stingray to a bloody pulp then summons a school of sharks to apparently devour him! Yes, we don't actually see it and there may be some wiggle-room to have Stingray survive but Tiger Shark, who joins Namor to save his own skin, looked away in horror. I repeat, Tiger Shark looked away in horror!

The weird part is the timeline. We have the attack on Stingray, then a flashback where the Avengers rescue some men who did something terrible to Atlantis only to have them drown in a jail in the desert by floodwaters coming out of their cell's toilet, the cell being a plastic cube for some reason.

"Stay the hell out of my ocean!"

The Avengers don't know about Stingray's demise yet (and he's married to a woman that Namor CARES about!!) but he did murder people on US soil! That's hard to justify regardless!

And, in the near future, there's a Defenders reunion and in January, the Invaders are back! 

I figure that Marvel is pushing the Sub-Mariner because of the Aquaman movie (See, we did that first!) but what will Namor's role be now? And how many murders will he do before it's over?

Yikes! That's hard to come back from!

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