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22 November 2010 @ 12:06 am
Namor the Submariner  
Namor, the half-Atlantean half-human prince/king of Atlantis, is a very old character-- one of Marvel's oldest. I had never heard of him until the Marvel Civil War event (which was, what, four years ago? Jeez), when Marvel was paying him extra special attention. "Hmm," I said to myself, "who could this guy be? And why did he get this big splash page, and why are all his friends blue?"

So I looked dude up. I was satisfied with what I found: one of Marvel's villains-turned-antiheroes, or maybe the other way around, depending on who you ask, gifted with better powers than some of Marvel's front-runners, and familiar enough (and had enough history) with those high-ballers that the SuperCivil War would be something he would get involved in. His relationship with Sue Storm was interesting, too, in the context of Reed Richards being a total dick (appropriate icon is appropriate) and Namor being sorta sexy. What? My first introduction to the character was Susan having to approach him for help, and Namor being like, "Not only are you and your people's attempts to get me involved in a surface war that isn't my concern through my penis transparent, not going to work, AND insulting to me as a freaking king, you came for personal reasons, Susan. Don't pretend this is only political. I can feel your heartbeat through the water." STRAIGHT-UP PIMPIN'.

I ended up reading a bunch of comics with Namor in, including a really great "What If?," an excellent mini from the perspective of old-timey semi-steampunk for-real submariners and the terrifying myth of Namor (the art was GOR. GEOUS.), the heinous Marvel 1604 follow-up, and a miniseries set in the... I want to say 1920s? That started out intriguing and promising, but quickly crashed and burned. I noted that the Namor character, like the Inhumans, had a lot of potential for interesting storytelling, but that since the writing would be challenging, especially as a standalone vs. as a team-up or otherwise running alongside of and interacting with the rest of the Marvel canon, there weren't exactly a whole lot of successful independent series that also didn't suck/end on a sucky note. (I read a whole lot of Inhumans stuff around the same time, too. I still don't understand how the whole "Send Inhuman teenagers to UW maybe-Madison" storyline got approved. Whatever Joe Quesada is smoking, keep that shit away from me.)

Then, a Namor title was announced! What could this even mean? There wasn't a new F4 project in the works. Namor wasn't going to be in an F4 movie, or a TV show. What could the motivation be? I am only slightly ashamed to say that I spent several hours over the course of a few days when I was supposed to be studying pondering this clearly vital issue. I landed on a theory I thought (and still think) was/is kind of brilliant: Marvel was finally tapping the mixed-race market.

See, Namor, and his furious anger/themes of vengeance, could be used, with a talented writer, as a commentary on the mixed-race experience and social standing in two different cultures-- both looking like the majority group, and being visibly "Othered" from the other majority group-- as well as socioeconomic class within, at least, American culture (he was a mentally ill amnesiac homeless person for a while), a depiction of issues with sovereignty and indigenous peoples (he already does the Very Special Environmental Awareness storylines, just sayin'), and the self-hatred issues he has/had before getting to the secret Badass level of psychology. The anger he has at his conception and the impact of his mother effectively being a prisoner when he was conceived (Was she really in love with the sailor who she found/who found her? Was it rape? Was it Stockholm Syndrome? What role do all the circumstances of Namor's parents' encounter play in the meeting between these two cultures? Why would Namor be named "avenging son" if all was well? etc.), and the subsequent issues Namor's had with human girlfriends, including his obsession with Susan Storm (in theory, one could play the race angle, like fetishistic behavior or the whole "minority man loves white/blonde woman" thing, but it would be more interesting to not, because 1) he wasn't raised in human culture, and 2) he's dated non-blonde, non-white women before).

Not to mention all the fun of Atlantis (Blinged-out underwater empire! Court intrigue!), NYC (DA BIG APPLE! Spidey! The Avengers (East Coast)! The Defenders and Dr. Strange! The Illuminati! The F4! Captain America and the WWII memories therein!), whatever other Marvel events/commentary/characters/love interests/government forces that Namor runs across or who run across him, and Namor himself (Passionate, honorable, and a giant tool!). It all made perfect sense! For once! I was finally starting to understand the mysterious world of comic books.

Of course, that's not what happened. As I said above, Joe Q? Not big on logic. Have you seen what he did with X-23 after her badass introduction in X-Men Evolution? Yeah. Namor was involved in Civil War, apparently, as a way to show somebody on a revenge quest for a relative's wrongful death (his cuz, Namorita) and to give Wolverine (of course) a chance to shine as Marvel's Golden Boy of Awesomeness. His miniseries's plot was that he had a bastard son who was a spoiled little rich boy who didn't get enough attention/hugs/love from Daddy and wanted to cause the downfall of Atlantis because that will show them all. So he had to die. *best Joan Cusack ca. "Addams Family Values" voice* Still, the sheer genius I had come up with haunted me.

I rolled hypothetical casting choices around in my head. I though of how the world of Atlantis would be depicted, scientifically semi-plausible ways Atlanteans could differ from, but still be genetically compatible with humans (I was thinking some kind of mutated alveoli and evolution from a common ancestor a la the Inhumans), looked at super deep-sea organisms and ship wreckages (dude, there is that one place where the water gets so dense it acts like a solid, and deep sea-craft actually hit a freaking barrier-- YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID), and tried to find a way to make that stupid ankle-wings mankini combo look less dumb.

I landed on The Rock.

Why Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson Should Play Namor

1. He absolutely looks the part. A million percent, yes he does. And dude could rock the green sequined hot-pants with no complaints from me. He's also mixed! Niiiiice.

2. He is surprisingly excellent at camp; check out "Be Cool," for hilariousness, and check out "The Scorpion King," for action-adventure cheeseball don't-take-ourselves-too-seriously-and-neither-should-you movie fun. It's a spinoff of the "Mummy" movies, which, yeah, the last one was really, really dumb and poorly executed, but the first one reminded me a lot of if I had liked Indiana Jones. Just really fun movies that act within and as self-aware but unironic, poking-fun-at-themselves laughing-with-you homage to these period genre action films. Sort of like the Iron Man movies (did you see the alternate opening for Iron Man 2? :D)! If the new F4 movies are done the same way vs. the "dark" trend (which can either be awesome or so bad it's terrible/hilarious) at the opposite end (read: DC) of the comic book movie spectrum, I think a Namor spinoff in the same style would be great.

3. I want you to picture shirtless, wet "The Rock" hanging out with a visibly uncomfortable Tony Stark, a weirded out (but pleased to have someone to talk to about the '40s) Captain America, and a ST:TNG Data-like Vision trying to pull up "memories" of being the Original Human Torch, while Reed Richards acts a dick and Sue Storm acts distracted and Dr. Strange acts like Dr. House. NOW YOU CAN'T UNSEE IT, CAN YOU. YOU'RE WELCOME.

Why Disney Should Make This Movie Happen

1. They've worked with Dee-Jay before. Sure, the new "Witch Mountain" movie wasn't very good, and neither was that football-player-secretly-has-a-daughter movie, but those just weren't good movies. I thought The Boulder Rock was funny and sweet and hot in both of them.

2. They've done an Atlantis movie before. Hell, pull Mignola back on for visual design! That cartoon was pretty, and had really charming characters, even if certain plot elements were really colonial and racist. Go buck-wild! You've got the Marvel Universe to play in, now, Disney!

3. They've done hilariously awesome camp before. "Pirates of the Caribbean" proved that with the right talent behind anything, you can make a million bucks. Sure, The Rock isn't exactly the Depp (uh, at all), but get Bruckheimer behind the movie and it can't be any worse than "Prince of Persia," and could be twice as fun and half as problematic!

Why This Movie Won't Get Made

1. For all the writing reasons I listed above-- they're difficult enough notions to investigate in the real world, and I doubt there would be some really excellent and well-known screenwriters necessarily willing to tackle that in a two-hour movie.

2. Three words: James Cameron's "Avatar." JC's movie sucked, but it was gorgeous, and heavily featured blue people and his trademark deep-sea action, just moved on land. Tell me that those spirit feather thingies aren't totally jellyfish. Google "bioluminescent marine." Don't worry, I'll wait. With a second BluRay release pending and sequels already in talks, I don't think "blue people plus a hybrid blue guy plus we get to look at the ocean" is exactly going to put asses in seats or producers' money up-front.

3. Speaking of which, "Atlantis" wasn't that successful. Neither was "Treasure Planet." After all that, would Disney want to put aside a good chunk of money for an ocean movie that won't have Johnny Depp in it?

4. And Jerry Bruckheimer: his last two Disney movies ("The Sorceror's Apprentice," "Prince of Persia") not only may have fulfilled his Disney contracts, but sucked ought to be damned. They not only sucked, they also didn't make a whole lot of money by either Disney or Bruckheimer standards. That could be because Disney is giving ol' Jer crappy projects, Disney is trying to get rid of him, or he's trying to get rid of Disney.

5. D"TR"J may have met his contract requirements with Disney already, too; from what I've seen with other celebrities, they tend to sign a three-movie deal across the various Disney movie companies, and I know he's done at least two. Seeing as his next/upcoming movie is a violent action flick, I doubt he still has legal ties with the House of Mouse.

6. Unless Disney forms a new company or maintains production of Marvel properties under the Marvel name, "family friendly" will be a requirement. A kinder, friendlier Namor isn't Namor at all, y'all. It's kind of the point-- he's a total prick.

7. Remember Fantastic Four? Remember how (white) nerds bitched that Sue Storm wasn't (white) "comic-accurate" enough, leading to Jessica Alba being put in too-pale foundation, horrible extensions, and blue contacts for the second F4 movie? Yeah. Picture that again. I know that might just be a reason why Namor as a movie won't happen the way I want it to, but damn if it doesn't get old seeing all-white casts for my sci-fi/fantasy jams.

8. Speaking of which, Namor may be considered a Fantastic Four property. Similarly to how Omega Red is an X-Men character and couldn't be used in Iron Man 2, and how Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are X-Men characters and can't be used in The Avengers, the character rights for Namor may belong to Fox. As I recall, Fox has a really funky contract with Marvel where as long as they release a movie every X number of years, or release Y number of movies within Z number of years, they have the rights indefinitely. That doesn't sound like something Disney's going to be cool with long-term, but until Fox either screws up or Disney legally renegotiates/buys out the Fox contract, they may have no choice for a really long time.

9. Since the F4 movies are being rebooted, and the legal limbo Disney and Fox are inevitably going to get into are looming around the corner, a Namor movie might not be considered financially viable without the Sue Storm/F4 angle, which makes sense. Namor on his own is interesting, but not really traditional Marvel fare and doesn't come up against traditional Marvel bad guys. Without an Avengers, Illuminati, or F4 tie-in, Namor won't get made.

10. Since Namor both 1) needs the above-mentioned people and 2) has less of a fan-base than all of them (probably), even assuming a one movie every-other-year rate spread out over two companies-- and also assuming whatever F4 reboot is accepted as canon to be built upon OR Fox/Disney decides to kick-start a Namor plot of their own volition-- by the time one to two Fantastic Four movies (Disney-canon), two Avengers movies, and a Dr. Strange movie at minimum are made, anywhere between five to eight years will have passed. At which point, all the above drawbacks will still be an issue, and the movie landscape will have to be felt out and navigated for things like "Avatar 4: Unobtainium Obtained," whatever may or may not be going on politically (real politics and business politics), or another Marvel event ("Redshirts Redcoats Redsuits vs. Minutemen (Scanners)"). By then Namor will either start to run out of relatives, or the entire Prince Nuada storyline from Hellboy II will be copied and rebranded as somehow... amphibian.

So, yeah. The cons may outweight the pros, but I'm still all for a Namor movie. Now that I think of it, I'm especially in favor of it if Guillermo del Toro is at all involved! Alas, I'm not the one who makes such decisions. Stan Lee isn't even the one who makes such decisions! Our fate is in the hands of "Joe Cheese" Quesada. ...Alas.
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