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The history of Namor's rivalry with Black Panther ahead of 'Wakanda Forever'

T'Challa and Namor get along in the comics as well as, uh, cats and water. 

By Syfy Staff
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

By Ariadne Night

The imminent introduction of a certain Sub-Mariner king of the sea in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has no doubt had longtime Marvel fans giddy with excitement. The new movie, which hits theaters on Friday, Nov. 11, will mark Namor’s first film appearance, where he’ll be played by Tenoch Huerta. But, despite being a newcomer to the big screen, Namor holds a special place in Marvel Comic legacy, as he’s one of Marvel’s oldest characters and was eventually revealed to be the first Mutant, too. 

Unlike his movie variant, comic Namor is the king of Atlantis, known for having a short temper and an unfortunate penchant for devastating his enemies with biblical levels of flood water. With nearly a century’s worth of stories under his belt, the OG king of the sea has known his fair share of conflicts. None have been quite as iconic, however, as the inspiration behind the movie: his legendary and bloody conflict with King T’challa. 

The feud between the kings comes as naturally as, well, cats and water. They begin their journey as colleagues, hero-ing from their respective corners of the comic universe with suspicious respect and partnering for justice whenever an enemy required the combined beat down of a winged fish-man and a cat-man. At their best, the two kings aren’t too dissimilar in the comics. Confident, borderline arrogant leaders (though much more so in Namor’s case) with super strength and a deep dedication to their responsibilities. The only thing that could possibly tear them apart? Something to threaten their people.

Their conflict came to a head during the 2012 event comic series Avengers vs. X-Men. When tensions between the Avengers and X-Men — sparked by a disagreement over what to do with the extremely powerful Phoenix Force that Mutants embrace and the Avengers fear — rise to extreme levels. And, Namor makes the sea levels rise, too, as he takes the fight to Wakanda and devastates the nation with a massive tidal wave. Innocents are killed and the nation is decimated, but the Avengers manage to get away mostly unscathed. 

T’challa is vengeful, however, vowing war and effectively ending whatever kinship there was between the kings. What follows is a particularly bloody war that devastates both nations. As can be expected, neither nation is 100 percent blameless. Wakanda (under the leadership of T’challa’s sister Shuri at the time) decimates Atlantis, an action Namor responds to by telling a little white lie to Thanos (remember him) that convinces the mad titan that one of his elusive infinity gems is on Wakanda. Thanos responds as you’d expect and T’challa promises death to Namor. They exchange blows and Namor is transported to the darker, scarier Ultimate Universe to spend the rest of his days. 

T’challa and Namor’s feud saw the deaths of many of their people, a conflict that could only be solved by the multiversal incursion event known as Secret Wars, where it was discovered that multiple dimensions were on a collision course for each other.  In order to save the world they both were born in, T’challa and Namor put aside their differences and do what leaders should: protect their people by any means necessary. 

While Namor and Wakanda seem to be at odds in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, it’s possible the relationship between the Sub-Mariner and the Black Panther might improve. Marvel Studios is making a Secret Wars movie in 2026, so the two characters might just get a chance to play nice.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens in theaters on Nov. 11. 

Looking for more superhero action? Stream Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, and more on Peacock right now.