Black Panther: Wakanda Forever introduced Namor to the MCU, as this character’s newly introduced Aztec origins in the movie turned him into a personality that was willing to do whatever it took to make sure that his people were safe. In that regard, this led him to war against the Wakandans, who were simply trying to keep a human girl safe from Namor and his people. So, is Namor a villain or an anti-hero?
Namor is more of an anti-hero than a villain. That’s because the things that Namor does are not entirely selfish, as he simply wants to protect his people from the surface world, which he believes is capable of some of the evilest deeds if they were to get their hands on Vibranium.
While Namor isn’t exactly a good guy, he isn’t exactly a bad guy as well. He was simply portrayed to be a leader that needed to do what he thought was best for his people and for the entire world in general. Of course, he made a lot of sense when it came to the fact that he wanted to keep Vibranium out of the hands of the surface world. That said, let’s look at what we know about Namor and his tendencies as a character.
Is Namor A Villain Or An Anti-Hero In Black Panther?
Early in the events of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the antagonist of the movie was introduced as a man named Namor. He attacked a US ship that was looking to harvest Vibranium in the ocean after several countries all over the world had failed to obtain Vibranium from Wakanda. Of course, Namor was ruthless in his approach because he and his subordinates made sure to kill anyone who had ever seen them to make sure that his nation of Talokan remained a secret.
The fact that Namor wanted the Wakandans to give up Riri Williams, a young scientist capable of inventing a Vibranium-detecting device, eventually caused a rift between the two nations. And when the Wakandans were able to rescue Princess Shuri and Riri from the Talokan people, who captured them early on, that was when Namor had to retaliate against Wakanda.
Namor’s retaliation, of course, led to the deaths of a lot of different Wakandans, including Queen Ramonda, as he wanted to send a message to Wakanda that his nation was more than capable enough of destroying them. He was also trying to intimidate the Wakandans into joining him in a war that he wanted to start against the surface world because he knew that the different nations of the surface were eventually going to find a way to try to steal Vibranium from both Wakanda and Talokan and use it to bolster their military strength.
This all led to an all-out war that culminated in a battle between Namor and Shuri, who had now become the new Black Panther after synthesizing a Heart-Shaped Herb. While Shuri began her fight against Namor with vengeance in her heart, the bout between the superpowered characters eventually ended with the new Black Panther forcing Namor to yield in exchange for protection benefits from Wakanda.
As such, we know for a fact that Namor was the main antagonist in the entire movie, as he was on the opposite end of a war against Princess Shuri and the rest of the Wakandans. So, does that make Namor a villain? Or is he an anti-hero?
What makes certain movies complicated is that an antagonist isn’t necessarily a villain. That’s because the villain still depends on the actions and motives of a certain person in relation to what is happening in the movie. As such, even if an antagonist may be on the opposite end of a battle between the clear protagonist, that doesn’t make that person a villain. This is the same case for Namor.
Although Namor may be a villain to some people, he isn’t necessarily such because he isn’t someone who would want to kill or destroy for the sake of killing or destroying or for his own personal gain. Rather, he prefers to make sure that his people are safe from the things that the surface world is capable of doing in relation to his people of Talokan.
There was never a point in the movie where Namor simply killed for no reason at all. He killed the US agents out at sea because he wanted to make sure that they wouldn’t be able to harvest the Vibranium they found underwater.
Of course, both Wakanda and Talokan want to keep Vibranium away from the rest of the world because they both know what world superpowers are capable of if they were to gain access to Vibranium. But while Wakanda would rather practice a more pacificist way of keeping Vibranium within their borders, the people of Talokan were quite aggressive and were adamant about keeping their nation a secret. And it all boils down to the fact that Namor knows what kind of evils the world could cook up if Vibranium were to become mainstream.
As such, Namor was always more of an anti-hero instead of a villain. He didn’t have the qualities that made a true villain, and that was seen in the last battle between him and Shuri when he realized that he needed to yield to save his people and gain the offer of protection from the Wakandans.
Why Is Namor An Anti-Hero?
One of the things that make certain characters anti-heroes is the fact that they don’t have the usual qualities of a hero. But, at the same time, they aren’t villains as well. As such, anti-heroes are characters with ideals and end goals that may be good but aren’t exactly good in terms of how they try to achieve their goals.
Namor fits the bill of what an anti-hero is because he isn’t technically your standard villain, as he never wanted to do the bad things that he was doing out of pure evil or for selfish gains. Instead, he wanted to kill Riri Williams, wage war on Wakanda, and eventually strike the surface world because he wanted to keep Talokan safe from what the surface could do to them if the different nations of the world were to become more active in trying to obtain Vibranium.
Of course, Namor isn’t exactly good as well because he was willing to kill an innocent teenager and wage war against an entire nation just so he could keep his country safe. That means that the things that he is doing aren’t exactly things that normal heroes would do. Nevertheless, he doesn’t do those acts for the sake of his own selfish desires or to validate certain ideals that some people may not exactly agree with.
Both Namor and Wakanda both realize what the rest of the world could do if they had Vibranium in their hands. But while Wakanda would never go as far as killing people or waging war, Namor and Talokan were willing to do so for the sake of safeguarding the interests of their people.
Namor was always an anti-hero in the comics, as he is often regarded as the first anti-hero in comic book history. In that regard, while Marvel Studios changed the origin story of Namor and the country of origin of his people from Atlantis to Talokan, the MCU still decided to retain his identity as an anti-hero that was more than willing to do whatever it took to keep his people safe.