Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now in theaters, and so are a handful of new additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The highly-anticipated sequel has been praised for it’s introductions of characters like Namor, the King of Talokan, and Riri Williams, the future Ironheart. Yet, those aren’t the only two names making their first live-action appearance in the film. Another, perhaps lesser-known, face being added to the fold is Alex Livinalli‘s Attuma, the muscle behind the Talokanil’s fearsome army and one of Namor’s highest-ranking allies. Oddly enough, however, Attuma’s movie depiction is radically different from his time as the Sub-Mariner’s arch-nemesis in Marvel’s comics. As such, it becomes the duty of Murphy’s Multiverse to break down both versions of the character and present all of the information in one convenient location.
Comics – Attuma, the Barbarian
The best comparison one could make to explain the comic version of Attuma is this: he is the M’Baku to Namor’s T’Challa. Similarly to M’Baku and the Jabari tribe in Wakanda, Attuma is the leader of the banished Skarka tribe on the outskirts of Atlantis. Before his birth, Attuma’s people were forced out of Atlantean society for their barbaric ways and violent opposition to the royal ruling class. Now an independent sect of “Homo mermanus”, the Skarka lived by the prophecy that one day a warrior of their blood would rise up and conquer Atlantis in the name of the tribe. Learning of this prophecy, a warrior named Rorak captured the Skarka with the intention of controlling this fabled aggressor and, therefore, Atlantis itself. Attuma was born during Rorak’s siege, surviving the attack and taking a clot of his dying mother’s blood on the way out.
Only a boy, Attuma lead an uprising that overthrew Rorak and placed his own father, Attukar, as chieftain of the Skarka. This led to a brief period of rest for his people that saw Attukar attempt a peace treaty with Atlantis, and gave Attuma time to befriend a young Prince Namor. Together, the unlikely duo embarked on a mission important to both of their civilizations. Unfortunately, the journey was a disaster, resulting in the death of Attukar and ending all hope for lasting relations between Attuma, Namor, and their people. From this moment on, Attuma claimed himself as the prophesized warrior who would conquer Atlantis and began leading his tribe in constant brutal attacks against their former home nation.
Over the years, Attuma would try countless schemes to defeat Namor and take his throne. Among many children, he would have a daughter named Andromeda, who would grow to join him in his plots against Atlantis. After failing in his goal to rule the ocean, Attuma would also attempt to conquer the surface world, coming into conflict with heroes like the Avengers, Defenders, Fantastic Four, and even Daredevil. He also made a habit of allying himself with other villains in a bid to gain power, including several heavy hitters like Red Skull and Kang the Conqueror. On some occasions, Attuma actually did find himself able to control Atlantis, but his rule was typically brief before circumstances put Namor back on the throne.
In modern times, Attuma has left his goal of ruling Atlantis behind and has instead taken control of Lemuria, a neighboring underwater city established by the cosmic Deviants. This came after Attuma perished in battle with the Sentry, was resurrected by Doctor Doom, and became possessed by the spirit of Nerkkod – the Asgardian “Breaker of Oceans.” A wild few years for the undersea barbarian, who will likely continue to be a thorn in Namor’s side for decades to come.
MCU – Attuma, the General
Similarly to the MCU version of Namora, the live-action Attuma still does not have much of a background. Throughout Wakanda Forever, the character simply appears to be Namor’s left hand, muscle, and a commanding general in the army of Talokan. This is a far cry from Attuma’s comic counterpart, who has never taken orders from Namor or fought for his people’s interests without ruling them. Nothing is revealed about Attuma’s origins, but one would have to assume they’re awfully different from the source material considering his position as a high-ranking, respected member of Talokan society in the film. The Skarka tribe does not seem to exist in the MCU, so Attuma was likely never part of a banished people and never lived by the prophecy that he would one day conquer the nation. Instead, he seems to have grown into one of Talokan’s most feared defenders.
Attuma is seen participating in the attacks on the United States government and Wakanda, as well as leading the charge to capture Shuri and Riri Williams in Massachusetts. He forms an intense rivalry with Okoye, leader of Wakanda’s Dora Milaje, and is only truly defeated once his foe dons a suit of armor to assist herself in combat. His fate is not certain, but it is implied that Attuma returns peacefully to Talokan with Namor and his military after the monarch forms a truce with Shuri. There are no implications that Attuma has a hatred for Namor or might one day try to overthrow Talokan, but his status as “probably alive” means he’ll hopefully get the chance at some point.