While he hasn't appeared in the #MarvelCinematicUniverse, hints about Namor the Sub-Mariner have been planted since Iron Man 2. The effect he could have on the MCU has often been approached from the angle of how he could open the universe to ocean-based and mystical characters. But there's an aspect we haven't considered: How his personality will resonate in the MCU.
Marvel has given us characters in the movies like Captain America, Star-Lord, Iron Man, Falcon, Black Widow, and Ant-Man: All charming and likable. And all, for the most part, team players. But #NamortheSubMariner is completely different. He's really...well, mean. He's a dick, quite frankly, and his inclusion in the MCU can have big ramifications for the future of Marvel movies for a few reasons.
The MCU Has Never Presented A Character Like Namor
Marvel's always given us likable main heroes, but with a twist. They're not the perfect do-gooders that harken back to the Silver Age of comics. They are flawed individuals that can be considered careless and rude. The biggest examples are Tony Stark and Jessica Jones. However, these characters always have a redeeming quality: Stark understood that he could help people and Jessica Jones grew past her very traumatic life events and realized she could be a hero. Essentially, they will do the right thing even when it goes beyond their own self-interest, and they will team up when they need to.
With Namor, it's a different story. He really is just a huge dick. He doesn't care about anyone but himself and is always at odds with someone in the #Marvel universe for the most insignificant reasons. He generally hates humans and only cares about things when he and his fellow Atlanteans are also in danger. Weirdly, he has a hard time minding his own business and has been in a fight with just about every other Marvel hero under the sun because of that. The Avengers are weak and Earth can generally piss off, as far as he's concerned. Basically, Rhomann Dey was wrong:
Because Namor absolutely is 100% a dick. And he's an a-hole.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has never explored a character like that. And, while you could think including him and his irredeemable ego in a movie would be a turn-off for audiences, believe it or not, that's the most exciting aspect about his inclusion. It opens an opportunity to have fun with his mean personality and his unorthodox methods to get what he wants. And, if we've learned anything from superhero projects, is that having fun with them greatly impacts the result in terms of quality.
How He Would Change The Tone Of Whichever Movie He's In
Have you ever seen a movie that's trying to shove a character you simply don't like down your throat and try its best to tell you that you should like them, but you are never able to? Namor easily avoids that. He's very hard to love and he knows it and he doesn't care; a character whose personality doesn't lend itself to the kind of effort detailed above. Namor does what he wants when he wants and doesn't care about the people he crushes to do it or how others will perceive him. That whole heroism thing that the Avengers are always rallying around? Yeah, Namor...not so much.
This personality instantly sets a different tone for a movie, or a TV series. As I said before, Marvel has given us likable protagonists so far that have set the signature Marvel feel for the #MCU as a whole. But they've never dabbled with a character like Namor. Even Tony Stark has redeeming qualities, but not the Sub-Mariner, at least none that would be readily apparent if you set him up against the rest of the Avengers. With the right writer, his mean-spiritedness would create an entirely new dynamic within the team. While they've clearly been at odds with each other, there's still love and respect there, even when they're fighting. But Namor is so blunt that not even the trademark witty Marvel banter would fly with him.
Whoever appears in a movie with him would have to deal with someone who will tear off their head if he dislikes them: If Namor's fighting alongside someone, what prevents him from losing interest in their cause? If he's an adversary, what stops him from killing his enemy right there? These situations that stem from Namor's personality create a very interesting psychological challenge. That alone is a much more complex challenge that Marvel's not yet explored.
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Namor Can Change The Marvel Cinematic Universe In A Big (And Good) Way
The MCU started to include events that really shake-up the status quo of its narratives with Age of Ultron, The Winter Soldier, and Civil War. But Namor would shake things up when it came to the characters themselves. He can be considered an antihero but he doesn't even like humans. He's not like Captain America who enters a war zone to save a group of soldiers. Namor would just let them die if it weren't practical or beneficial to save them:
It's just that type of character that the MCU needs.
An example of this comes courtesy of Stan Lee. When he was created, Tony Stark represented what millions of people hated: War and war profiteering. Of what enticed him to create the character, Stan Lee said this:
"I think I gave myself a dare. It was the height of the Cold War. The readers, the young readers, if there was one thing they hated, it was war, it was the military....So I got a hero who represented that to the hundredth degree. He was a weapons manufacturer, he was providing weapons for the Army, he was rich, he was an industrialist....I thought it would be fun to take the kind of character that nobody would like, none of our readers would like, and shove him down their throats and make them like him....And he became very popular."
We all know how this ended up: Iron Man is now a staple of pop culture, children have him on their lunch boxes and his popularity is on the level of Batman and Superman. But Iron Man was more of a challenge back then because he symbolized an exceptionally controversial type of person in the time period.
Right now, we're in the middle of an era where audiences love edgy antiheroes and villains that don't care who they hurt while doing their thing. Audiences are craving characters that don't follow the usual "do-gooder" personality, which is partly why Deadpool was such a success, Game of Thrones continues to dominate our consciousness, and a "hard-drinking, short-fused mess of a woman" like Jessica Jones can resonate with audiences.
The folks at Marvel are doing their best to keep the MCU fresh and, so far, they've done a wonderful job of it. But, as with everything in the movie business, they have to keep evolving. Namor is that step in evolution. Let's have a character that doesn't care about saving the world but about his selfish purposes: He wants power and respect.
By including him, Marvel would eliminate the need for people to go look for their different fix somewhere else, as it's right there in the never-ending, always-diverse mix that is the MCU.
Do you think Namor would change the MCU in a good way? Where do you think he'll appear?