“Imperius Rex!” — Prince Namor
It’s time for a fan-casting exercise, my friends, and this time I’ve cast my eye upon Marvel’s Avenging Son and Lord of the Seven Seas, Prince (later King) Namor, known to surface-dwellers as the Sub-Mariner. But first, the usual background summary…
Namor, the Sub-mariner
Namor McKenzie was born to ship-captain Leonard McKenzie and Princess Fen, daughter of the Atlantean Emperor Thakorr, in (best guess) 1916. In the 1940s, he fought the Axis powers alongside Captain America and the Invaders and later the All-Winners Squad. After later conflicts with surface-dwellers, he disappeared in 1958. It wasn’t until 15-20(?) years ago that Johnny Storm (aka the 3rd ‘Human Torch’) came across an amnesiac bum with unusual strength, whom he recognized as the long-missing Prince of Atlantis. Storm helped Namor regain his memory and full strength, but when the prince came to believe that humans’ nuclear testing had wiped out his people, he swore vengeance on surface-dwellers. Of course, he eventually realized he’d been mistaken, but not before causing havoc and making surface-dwellers rather distrustful of him, too.
Over the years that followed, Namor has had an erratic history of alternately working with the “good guys” (e.g., Fantastic Four, Defenders, X-Men) and sometimes with “bad guys” (e.g., Doctor Doom, Magneto). At times, his alignment with the latter was due to being tricked or otherwise manipulated by others, while other times he was simply convinced that his and Atlantis’s best interests lay in fighting, for example, governments like the U.S. and Wakanda and/or heroes like the Fantastic Four. This has included what some have termed “terrorist” activities in response to activities he deemed harmful to oceanic ecologies. So, when Namor shows up, sometimes it’s hard to tell at first whether he is friend or foe. Namor also has intermittently had to contend with rogue elements among his own people (e.g., the usurper Attuma and his followers) and their undersea, Lemurian cousins. In addition, he has had to deal with much sorrow in his life, including destruction of parts of his kingdom, the deaths of many friends (plus his first wife (Dorma) and cousin (Namorita)), and the betrayal of his childhood friend Meranno (aka U-Man).
Namor is one of the most formidable beings, as either ally or enemy, on the Earth. As ruler of a technologically-advanced submarine kingdom, he can wield considerable military power. Indeed, the Atlantean armies are not to be trifled with, and he can be an inspiring (if grim) leader. But, even as an individual, Namor is incredibly powerful. As a hybrid of Homo mermanus and Homo superior (aka “mutant”), he has several superhuman abilities. Physically, he is one of the strongest and most durable beings, able to duke it out with the likes of the Thing, Hulk, Sentry, et al. He can both fly and swim at amazing speeds. He has superhuman agility, stamina, and various other amphibious adaptations. Truly, he is someone to value having in your corner, but his instability makes him a bit of a wildcard.
Namor is basically Caucasian in appearance, which he inherited from his father. (Pureblood Atlanteans have blue skin.) But, since he is half merman and a mutant, he has a few unusual features, including (usually) oddly-sculpted hair, tiny feathered wings that grow from his ankles, high-arched eyebrows, and pointed ears that remind one of an elf or a certain First Officer from Starfleet. He has a quite muscular build, black hair, and Marvel’s wiki lists him at 6’2″, 278 lbs. (Some of that weight may be from bone and tissue that are slightly denser than human.) Namor shares a general distrust of — even a disdain for — surface-dwellers with his fellow-Atlanteans. On top of this, he is known to have a large ego and rather imperious attitude toward anyone he considers his inferior. Not surprisingly, there are extremely few whom he would consider his equal, let alone his better. (Note that he trusts and respects Captain America enough that he has deferred to him as team leader in the field of battle.) As one who wears the responsibilities of the crown, he is known to brood a bit. Despite all his, there are also times when Namor has demonstrated love and affection, usually to a close relative (mother, wife, cousin) or to Susan Richards (nee Storm) of the Fantastic Four.
In trying to cast Namor, my requirements were pretty simple: over 6′ tall, dark haired (though that can be colored, of course), and muscular, with the presence to make one believe he was a supremely confident and superpowerful monarch. I would prefer to find someone around 30 years old, give or take, but it’s hard enough to find any contenders, so I was more flexible with that. In fact, while names like Henry Cavill (6’1″,b.1983), Tahmoh Penikett (6’3″,b.1975), and Josh Hartnett (6’3″,b.1978) crossed my mind, I really only focused on these three….
You might think that my choice of Jason Momoa (6’4″,b.1979) is too easy, even “cheating”, since he is portraying ‘Aquaman’ on the big-screen these days. Of course, his genre credits also include “Baywatch”, “Stargate: Atlantis”, “Game of Thrones”, Bullet to the Head, Wolves, Braven, “Frontier”. Personally, I think Momoa is a much better fit for Marvel’s King of Atlantis than for DC’s. Give him a widow’s peak, Vulcan ears, little wings on his feet (well, maybe those can be tattoos?), and a condescending royal sneer, and he’d be perfect as Prince Namor. Heck, he already has a head-start on the eyebrows!
Professional wrestler Roman Reigns (real name: Joe Anoa’i) (6’2″,b.1985) may be an unusual pick, but he has a certain swarthy appearance that reminded me of Momoa, especially with the whiskers and muscles. (I know I’m not the first to note the similarities.) I don’t think he has done any acting outside of wrestling. His only non-wrestling appearances were in “Ride Along (“reality TV”) and “Table for 3” (talk show) and “Raw Talk” (talk show), where he played himself. So, he may need acting lessons to pull off a decent ‘Namor’. But, he certainly has the physique for it, and he comes closest to my preferred age-range. Plus, you know, ‘Roman’ spelled backwards is ‘Namor’ (which, I believe, was the inspiration for the character’s name in the first place).
Sasha Roiz (6’5″,b.1973) might not the the first to come to mind, either. He’s also the oldest of my candidates, being almost 45 when I write this. But, if the powers-that-be chose to go with an older Namor, he’d be great. You may remember Roiz from his roles in “Caprica” or “Warehouse 13” or “Grimm”, but he also appeared in Land of the Dead, 16 Blocks, a couple “CSI” show and similar series, and he’s now co-starring in the second season of “Salvation”. As you can see from the shirtless pic I chose (from not all that long ago), he’s fairly physically fit — more of a swimmer’s physique? — and could probably put on a few more pounds of muscle if necessary. King Namor?
While it’s possible Momoa might someday play a Marvel character, I seriously doubt they’d sign him on to play someone so similar — at least in some aspects — to his current DC character. But, I can still play “What If?”, right? If not him, though, maybe Reigns or Roiz? What do you think? This one was tough! Anyone else strike you as a possibility?
* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2018.