Namor the Sub-Mariner is the main antagonist of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Although he’s Marvel Comics’ first antihero, he served as the movie’s villain. He’s the leader of Talokan, an underwater nation he wishes to protect from the surface world at any cost. However, there’s something unique about Namor compared to his people. Why does he have ankle wings?
As Namor said in the movie himself, he is a mutant – half-human, half-Talokan. His situation and transformation were unique because his mother was pregnant when she ingested the Talokan equivalent of the Heart-Shaped Herb. That caused the mutation and made Namor the Kukulkan.
The Kukulkan, or the Feathered Serpent God, is a Talokan deity that the Talokans believe is incarnated in Namor. He is the most powerful, strongest, and durable, and the only Talokan who can breathe underwater and on the surface. Here’s everything you need to know about Namor’s mutation both in the comics and the MCU.
Who is Namor the Sub-Mariner?
Namor the Sub-Mariner is one of the first Marvel Comics characters ever, debuting all the way back in 1939. He is Marvel’s first mutant and their first antihero – sometimes portrayed as a heroic character, but mostly as a villain or something in between.
In the comics, Namor’s origins stem from a human father, a fisherman, and a mother, the princess of Atlantis. Their relationship resulted in Namor being born, and their different origins contributed to Namor’s mutation.
All Atlanteans have some superhuman abilities, including breathing and living underwater, increased durability and healing, and enhanced strength. However, Namor by far tops all of them as the strongest, fastest, and most durable due to his mutation. That’s why he became the ruler of Atlantis when the time came.
He can sometimes rival even the likes of Thor, Captain America, and other Marvel powerhouses in terms of strength. But one thing also separates him from the rest of the Atlanteans – the wings on his ankles.
Namor’s origins in the MCU are different – he isn’t an Atlantean but rather Talokan. His people suffered when Spanish conquistadors brought smallpox to their land. They prayed to their god, who pointed them towards the vibranium-enhanced her that grew underwater. It was a similar herb to the Wakandan Heart-Shaped Herb.
After the Talokans consumed the plant, they all seemingly died – including Namor’s mother, who was pregnant with him at the time – but they all came back to life with pale blue skin and the ability to breathe underwater.
They moved their life from the surface to the sea and developed Talokan – the underwater empire which Namor would grow up to rule. Now, the Talokans developed certain powers – increased strength, durability, and healing underwater, but they could not breathe on the surface.
Namor, on the other hand, could. And, not just that – he was stronger, faster, and more durable than any of them, and it wasn’t even close. And, just like his comic book counterpart, he had wings on his ankles, allowing him to fly.
Why does Namor have wings on his ankles in ‘Wakanda Forever’?
Namor the Sub-Mariner from the comics was a half-human, half-Atlantean mutant. In the MCU, however, both of Namor’s parents were human, yet he still called himself a mutant and grew wings on his ankles. So, why does Namor have wings on his ankles in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever?
Namor is different from all the Talokans because his transformation is unique. All other Talokans consumed the Herb directly, but Namor never did. His mother did while she was pregnant with him, which made Namor a hybrid between a human and a Talokan, causing the mutation.
The mutation allowed Namor to breathe both underwater and on the surface, be insanely strong and durable, have intense healing powers while in water, and grow wings on his ankles.
The wings, Talokans believed, grew because Namor was the physical incarnation of their god, Kukulkan, or the Feathered Serpent God. He was destined to be their leader from the moment he was born.
The problem is that, by the movie’s end, Shuri has severely damaged Namor’s ankle wings to limit his mobility and make him more vulnerable, giving her a better chance to defeat him. Does that mean he’s not the Feathered Serpent God anymore?
Can Namor’s wings heal like the rest of his body?
Losing his wings could be a huge problem for Namor the Sub-Mariner, for two reasons at least. Firstly, his wings gave him a ton of mobility, incredible versatility, and speed in his attacks.
But secondly, in the comics, Namor’s wings aren’t affected by his healing factor, meaning they heal as if a wound on a normal human body would. Hence, if Shuri cut them off, they’d never grow back. Well, at least in the comics. In the comics, Namor got his wings back after losing them only after god Neptune intervened and returned them to Namor.
In the MCU, however, Namor is a lucky fellow. In Wakanda Forever, Shuri might’ve damaged his ankle wings severely, but in this case, they are affected by Namor’s healing factor and will grow back. In Marvel Studios’ Assembled: The Making of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (available on Disney+), the film’s fight coordinator Aaron Toney shared:
“It was fun to play around with the wings, you know, special, sort of like, quick attacks. Or him boosting. But also, they said, can we rip the wings off? They grow back, he’ll be fine, but it gives you an opportunity to humanize this God-like character and make him come to her. And so that’s playing to Shuri being smart.”
As you can see, it clearly means that the rules for Namor wings from the comics don’t apply, and the fellow will get them back. It seems we’ll see more high-flying from the Sub-Mariner in the future.