Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now in theaters, and when audiences get their chance, they’ll also meet all the new characters introduced within it. While much of the discussion surrounding the film has been focused on Namor and Riri Williams, there are also a handful of other Marvel Cinematic Universe debuts quietly included in the highly-anticipated sequel. Among the less-talked-about is Mabel Cadena‘s Namora, the cousin of Tenoch Huerta‘s undersea monarch and a character with rich history in Marvel’s comics. Of course, Namora doesn’t get quite as much time to shine onscreen as her more-popular relative, but she does manage to leave a mark worth exploring. As such, Murphy’s Multiverse will handle the duties of dissecting her origins from some of America’s earliest funny pages and comparing them to what fans see in Wakanda Forever. It’s humble work, but somebody has to do it.
Comics – Namora, the Sea Queen
Namora’s early days of existence are a bit wonky, considering where she would end up decades later. When she debuted in 1947’s Marvel Mystery Comics #82, nearly 20 years after the first appearance of Namor, she was not portrayed as being related to Namor at all. In fact, there was even some romantic chemistry established between the eventual cousins. Fortunately, this was retconned and cleared up in later books, which instead revealed a familial history between the two. Originally named Aquaria Nautica Neptunia, the future “Sea Queen” was, much like Namor, born a hybrid mutant to an Atlantean father and a human mother. Biologically the cousin of the great Prince Namor, the young Aquaria soon had her name changed to reflect her heritage. Namora, based on the Atlantean term for “Avenging Daughter”, after Namor, the Atlantean term for “Avenging Son.” As is apparently common in her family, Namora also had pink skin, which she inherited from her mother in the same way Namor inherited his human appearance from his father. Although, unlike Namor, Namora’s skin only faded to pink from blue once she reached adulthood.
Namora spent most of her early years as Namor’s close friend and adventure companion, after earning his respect as the only person in Atlantis who could match his strength and wit. However, where Namor confined himself to the oceans and maintained his loyalty to Atlantis, Namora was often more intrigued by her human origins and eventually made the move out of Atlantis and onto the surface world. After years of fighting strictly at the side of her royal cousin, Namora finally went on a journey of her own, taking a more heroic stance than Namor and saving lives across the globe. This period would see Namora on a wide variety of escapades that included battling fascist forces, teaming with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, joining Ulysses Bloodstone’s fabled Monster Hunters, and even finding love with two different men – Talan, an honorable Atlantean, and, believe it or not, the famed Russian hunter Sergei Kravinoff.
Eventually, Namora would become involved in a conflict that would cost her life. After a fiasco with Talan and the pressures of marriage left her feeling unwelcome in Atlantis, Namora relocated to the neighboring Lemuria, an underwater home for an ancient race of Deviants, with a newborn daughter (actually a secret clone named Namorita) in tow. There, she found herself targeted by Llyra, a mutant inhabitant of Lemuria who saw Namora as competition. Llyra would eventually poison Namora, sealing her corpse in a coffin, where it would lay for decades before being discovered by Jimmy Woo and the Agents of Atlas. That group manage to resurrect Namora in modern times, where she becomes a member of their team, discovers he “daughter” has taken her place on Earth for the last several years, and becomes involved in many major events that define the time period, such as World War Hulk, Secret Invasion, and the following Dark Reign. She even took action against her cousin during the Secret Empire era, leading a rebellion against his tyrannical rule and ultimately overthrowing him.
MCU – Namora
Namora’s presence in Wakanda Forever is a far cry from her storied history in Marvel lore, but it’s likely only the beginning for the character in the MCU. Her backstory as Namor’s cousin is not explored or elaborated on, but the fact the film maintains her name as Namora instead of Aquaria is a good sign the familial relation is still there. Much like the early source material, Namora appears to be a bit younger than Namor, and functions primarily as his second-in-command of Talokan. She seems to be his confidant and closest ally, and the only one able to question him to his face. Unlike her comic counterpart, Namora is not a mutant and is featured with blue skin when active on the surface world. She cannot breathe surface air without a mask, and it’s unclear if she is as powerful as Namor, furthering her from the abilities she possesses in the books. There is also a line in which Namora mentions always having wanted to fight by Namor’s side, implying that they did not spend their youth adventuring in the way they had in Marvel’s comic universe.
The end of the film hints that Namora could have a larger role to play in the future of Talokan, but for now, she’s mostly just a formidable warrior and a trusted member of Talokan’s hierarchy. Alongside Attuma, she is often sent to do the work unfit for Namor himself. She is involved with the initial attacks on the United States government and Wakanda and is a key player in the taking of Shuri and Riri Williams from Massachusetts to Talokan. While in the comics she is more open to the surface world, the MCU version of Namora is far more nationalistic and is unable to understand why, in the end, Namor chooses to trust Wakanda and rescind his attack on land-dwellers. Luckily for fans of the character, there is plenty of room for her to grow, and Wakanda Forever serves as an excellent base for Namora in the MCU.