Namor the Sub-Mariner has been a touchy subject for Marvel fans for quite a long time. We've been wanting to see him integrated into the MCU for years, but with no clear owner of his rights - and several failed attempts at adapting him for live-action - our dreams have slowly faded. Well everyone, get those dreams back up and running, because Namor might be finally making his live-action debut in the upcoming Inhumans TV series.
The News Reel Hawaii Twitter page tweeted a surprising bit of information: Namor and Aquaman might be filming in Hawaii:
As we know, the Inhumans TV show is currently shooting in Hawaii. And considering that the Sub-Mariner was recently retconned as an Inhuman and his close history to the Inhuman Royal Family, it's quite possible we'll be seeing his first live-action appearance in Marvel's newest series. Now, as with any rumor, we should take this bit of information with a grain of salt. But that's not to say there's no credibility to it. Local film offices are often the first to know of productions happening because they are the ones who deal with the location scouts, local crew hiring, etc.
If we pay close attention, Marvel has been preparing for Namor's arrival for quite some time.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is full of superheroes so it's no surprise that there are some pretty cool Easter Eggs hidden in its movies for various characters. One of the most important of these was in Iron Man 2 near the end of the movie when Nick Fury was talking to Tony Stark about the Avengers Initiative.
Behind Tony, there was a screen showing a map of the world. Several locations were marked with dots. On the DVD commentary for the movie, Jon Favreau revealed that these dots indicated other superheroes in the Marvel Universe:
"If you look at those maps, each one of those locations corresponds to something in the Marvel Universe. I'm not supposed to say that. And if you look on each one, and I know what they mean, but I'm not gonna say it, but I'm gonna say this: Two of them relate to "The First Avenger: Captain America," one of them relates to "Thor." The one in Africa relates to Black Panther."
Now, in the Captain America: Civil War Blu-Ray, Kevin Feige has confirmed that the dot in Africa was indeed a reference to Wakanda:
"The notion of the Black Panther, the nation of Wakanda, where he comes from, has been seeded going back to Iron Man 2, so it really felt like this was time."
During the interview, the dot in Africa above is highlighted when Feige talks about Black Panther being teased ever since Iron Man 2. What surprised me the most about it was that, if those dots are indeed references to other superheroes in the MCU, it validates Namor's rumored Easter Egg.
Does The Spot Over The Ocean Confirm Namor's Existence In The MCU?
To give more validity to this Easter Egg, here's a map from the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe from 1985 and 1986:
As you can see here, exactly on the same spot over the ocean as the map behind Tony Stark, right next to South America, the map marks that location as "Namor's Solitary Place." I don't know about you, but that doesn't look like a coincidence to me. Perhaps S.H.I.E.L.D. was tracking the antihero and keeping track of the locations he visited. You know Nick Fury has tabs on just about every super-powered person and/or alien out there...
Namor would be included on that list.
So Why Haven't We Seen Namor In The MCU Already?
As stated above, Namor has been a complicated topic when it comes to his integration into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And by complicated I mean that as of today, we still don't have a clear answer as to who owns the rights to the character. The closest we've come to a clarification came from Marvel CCO Joe Quesada, who stated this about Namor's movie rights:
"I can't speak for studios... As far as I know, yeah we do. It’s not at Fox, it’s not at Sony... Yeah."
A few years ago, Kevin Feige illustrated that the challenges around Namor the Sub-Mariner's rights. One, he's been around so long that he was created back when Marvel was still known as Timely Comics — he is, quite literally, one of comics' first superheroes. Two, for the longest time, he was technically a mutant — and as we all know, all characters who fall under "the M-word" category belong to Fox. Except that Namor's rights don't belong to Fox. Or Sony. They technically belong partly to Universal:
"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."
From what I can see, his situation is not as strict as the X-Men or Fantastic Four. And, as mentioned above, it looks like it's even less complicated now that Namor has been officially revealed to be an Inhuman, therefore severing his original ties to the X-Men franchise. However, even if the Sub-Mariner came with legal baggage, it's not as if there hasn't been a precedent for Marvel working out a complicated legal deal for the movie rights to a character — case in point, Quicksilver and, of course, Spider-Man. So it's not impossible to believe Marvel was paving the way for Namor's introduction by leaving subtle clues the same way they did for Black Panther.
Namor's Other Tease In 'Iron Man 2'
What makes me even more certain that Namor was marked on that S.H.I.E.L.D. map is another reference to the character subtly included at the beginning of the movie. When Tony Stark is walking out of his presentation and we get a first-person perspective of the craziness going on backstage, Larry Ellison, the CEO of real-world corporation Oracle (which was a sponsor for Iron Man 2), approaches him. Tony even calls him "The oracle of Oracle."
You might be asking, "So what? It was just a cameo." And yes, it may be simply that...but it may be something more.
In the comics, Namor, shortly after he was tackling his anger-management problem, founded a company named Oracle, Inc. The corporation's purpose was to provide a better life for sea creatures. The MCU has a particular way of adapting story arcs from the comics: They might take the essence of the plot but they always take creative liberties.
So, what if, in the Marvel Universe, Larry Ellison is the CEO of Oracle, but not the one from our world; instead, he runs the company that will eventually be bought by Namor the Sub-Mariner? Just throwing that out there.
Namor Has Been Referenced In Other MCU Properties, Too
If you're a hardcore Marvel fan, the phrase "Lemurian Star" just may ring a bell. If it does, but you're not sure why, this might help: It's the name of a S.H.I.E.L.D. ship, a mobile satellite launch platform. Still foggy? You might have an easier time remembering the opening scene of Captain America: Winter Soldier, when Cap and Natasha and their team infiltrate a ship to capture Batroc and free the hostages — the ship they had to take back was the Lemurian Star.
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The Lemurian Star was also mentioned in "End of the Beginning," the episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that bookended the release of Winter Soldier. While it wasn't shown, it was revealed that S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (later revealed to be Hydra) Jasper Sitwell had gotten an order from the Triskelion to report to the Lemurian Star. Shortly after Sitwell arrived, it was taken hostage by Batroc, which explains how Sitwell ended up there after being on a mission with Coulson's team:
Okay, great, but how does that relate to Namor? Well, the Lemurians are a race of ocean-dwelling humanoids in the Marvel universe. There are actually two sub-groups of the Homo mermanus race: The Atlanteans, who are led by Namor, and can be distinguished by their blue skin (most of the time), and the Lemurians, who are led by Karthon the Quester. After an initial period where Namor and Karton were bitter foes with one another (as superheroes do), they soon buried their differences and became close friends and allies.
Marvel could have chosen to name the ship literally anything, and they named it after something that is directly associated with Namor the Sub-Mariner. That was not unintentional. Clearly, whatever the rights issues, they're not so strict that all characters and races directly associated with Namor are not allowed to be used by Marvel, as with Fox and anything mutant-related, or previously with Sony and anything Spider-Man-related.
With his rights being so shifty, Marvel could have planted the clues both in the map and with Larry in case they were able to use him in the future. And going by News Reel's latest rumor, it looks like, after years of uncertainty, Namor's live-action future is finally in Marvel Studios'. I wonder, if his appearance in Inhumans is true, could Marvel be paving the way for a Namor movie or TV show? We can only hope.
Do you think Namor will appear in Inhumans? If not, where do you think he could pop up?