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Black Panther 2 Pays Tribute to Marvel Comics’ Superhero Roots

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe is taken to new heights this weekend, thanks to release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The sequel not only processes the loss of King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and how it impacts the characters who were in his orbit, but it establishes and expands upon the mythos of Namor (Tenoch Huerta). The character, who is revealed to be the ruler of the underwater kingdom Talokan, plays a unique role in the film’s proceedings, and his origin story that is recounted in the film adds some fascinating context to the larger MCU. In particular, one component of Namor’s backstory pays tribute to Marvel’s very first superhero stories. Spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever below! Only look if you want to know!

While recounting his backstory to Shuri (Letitia Wright), Namor reveals that his mother and other Mayan ancestors ingested an underwater glowing plant in hopes of gaining the powers to fight the Spanish who were invading their country. Namor’s mother, Fen (Maria Mercedes Coroy) initially resisted the plant, believing that it would harm her then-unknown baby, but was ultimately convinced to do so. The plant gave everyone who consumed it superpowers — including Namor, who was born in 1571 with winged feet and pointed ears, unlike any Talokans who were born after him. Namor explains that this made him the “first mutant,” something that has remained true in the centuries since he was born.

Why is Namor Marvel’s first mutant?

The idea of Namor being the “first mutant” in the MCU is significant in several ways — both because of his role in the history of Marvel Comics, and because it is a nickname he has often held himself. Created by Bill Everett in 1939, Namor is regarded as one of the first superhero characters in Marvel’s (then Timely Comics) arsenal, literally getting spotlighted in Marvel Comics #1. The character, alongside the original Human Torch and Captain America, carried the publisher’s superhero stories for quite some time, decades before Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and the Hulk. In a way, confirming that Namor was born all the way back in the 1570s pays tribute to him being one of Marvel’s first superheroes, and also plays off of the good chunk of the MCU timeline that still remains unexplored.

Then, there’s also the “Marvel’s first mutant” name — a subtitle that Marvel Comics gave to Namor in 1964’s X-Men #6, when the publisher decided to re-establish the character as specifically having mutant genes. While Namor initially shunned most of the connections to the X-Men, the group’s popularity in the 1980s led to his 1990 solo series being subtitled “Marvel’s First and Mightiest Mutant.” In the years since, Namor has occasionally embraced his mutant connections more, joining the X-Men and developing a romantic relationship with Emma Frost.

What do you think of Namor officially being the “first mutant” in the MCU? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now playing exclusively in theaters.

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