Comic Book Casting: The NAMOR Live-Action Movie

501221-namor_mike_mignola01Namor’s been called many things. Born in 1939, he’s one of Marvel’s first heroes. And he’s also one of Marvel’s first mutants. But he’s also comics’ first real anti-hero.

Created in the late 1930s by future Daredevil co-creator Bill Everett, Namor is the child of a Romeo & Juliet type pairing of a human sea captain and an Atlantean princess. Born with pink human skin as opposed to his maternal heritage’s blue skin, Namor treated that flaw as a bonus and quickly ascended to the throne of Atlantis with a short fuse and hostile defender of his Atlantean people. He fought alongside Captain America in World War 2, and was dusted off after a decades-long slumber when he was resurrected in Fantastic Four early on in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s run.

In modern comics he’s never quite been able to catch up to his birthright, appearing mainly as a supporting character in the X-Men until AvX but has been a member of virtually every major superhero team including the secret cabals the Illuminati AND the villainous Cabal. Potential-wise he has as much, if not more, for a movie than Iron Man did a decade ago, but it’ll take more work — especially with the shirtless nature and undersea scenes — to make it work.

In this week’s Comic Book Casting, we take on that challenge in the mighty Marvel manner. Excelsior? No, Imperius Rex!

The Concept:

Namor has a long history in comics — he was Marvel’s first hero, well before Captain America. But I’d skip over that (to be explored in a later movie, perhaps) and begin this with his return in the pages of Fantastic Four — but minus Fantastic Four. Imagine a wayward, bearded homeless man adrift in the conceptual sea of San Francisco who’s unknowingly the crown prince of an undersea kingdom. Unbeknownst to him and the entire air-breathing world, his people have been crushed by modern development and pollution, destroying Atlantis with a nuclear bomb test in the 1940s and forced to live as undersea refugees in an Atlantean diaspora in the world’s oceans. One of the last surviving generals, Attuma, finally turns his remaining people into warriors to strike back at the oblivious human race who decimated his people.

As I said, this would leave Namor’s WW2 days out of reach for a later movie, but thrust him into the modern day as  he is shocked back to his senses by being a casualty in one of the Atlantean army’s first attacks on the western seabaord. Found by a U.S. Marshall-turned-cop Betty Dean, his fiery temper comes to life — first siding with his undersea people before acknowledging Attuma’s twisted ideals and his own split heritage with humans and Atlanteans.

Where Iron Man triumphed with Tony Stark’s callous and smug persona, the Namor character is gifted with all of that and then some. Imperius Rex and all that.

The Director:

We need someone who can make real stories involving dark, regal and sometimes horrific elements. Who better than Neil Marshall? The noted UK horror director really stepped it up a notch with the film Centurion and fitting in seamlessly as a director for Game of Thrones, so imagine him being able to turn all of that around and craft Namor not as a dark Aquaman movie but a twisted tale of royalty, birthright and horror set in the docks of San Francisco and the undersea world?

The Cast:

Namor – Kit Harington: When I was first dreaming up this role I had Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson pegged for this role, but the more I thought about it the more I realized it needed a younger voice. Sure Johnson can play brash, but if only he were about 15 years younger. Then after seeing the trailer for the upcoming Pompeii it all came together; Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow. Although his resume is relatively short, Harington has all the gifts — physical and otherwise – needed to play the contemptuous and vain prince of Atlantis. Sure he’s not a proven movie star, but I’m casting this from the vein of the casting of Thor with some unknown Australian guy who turned out to be Chris Hemsworth.

Lady Dorma – Imogen Poots: Poots was one of the three actresses in the running for the female lead in Captain America — The Winter Soldier, and although she ultimately didn’t get the part it doesn’t mean she’s out of the running for a Marvel movie. Her roles in Fright Night and Centurion can back up my claims she’s ready, she just needs a chance to show it.

Betty Dean – Kate Mara: Betty Dean was a big part of Namor’s early life in comics, but thrown by the wayside quickly and forgotten by most. But as part of this revised origin of Namor in San Francisco, pulling in Dean as a cop could be a great bit of grounding that Namor would need. For Kate Mara, the only problem (if it is one) is that she appeared as an unnamed U.S. Marshall in a bit role in Iron Man 2 — but perhaps that could work well to make ties between Namor and the Marvel Cinematic Universe work. She’s got excellent chops with the roles of Zoe Barnes in House of Cards and a long role in 24, and this could be a big break for her.

Attuma – Forest Whitaker: Since the success of Marvel’s The Avengers, the studio has been able to afford an even higher quality of actor than before — Robert Redford and Glenn Close, for instance. It’s in that mold that I would cast Forest Whitaker, fresh of his performance in Lee Daniels‘ The Butler. Taking stock of his more villainous roles from The Last King of Scotland and Panic Room (and then maybe squeezing in some of that action from Ghost Dog) and I think Whitaker could elevate Attuma from being a Marvel B-lister to a real, palpable villain of the highest order.

Andromeda – Olga Kurylenko: Originally I had someone different pegged for this role but kept re-casting and re-casting until I remembered Olga Kurylenko. She co-starred in the recent Oblivion movie with Tom Cruise, but I chose this Ukranian actress for her work in Quantum of Solace  and especially that of Etain in Marshall’s previous film Centurion. Kurylenko can look the part but also bring the fury, and that’s something that’ll be sorely needed to bring this role to the forefront and stand beside Whitaker’s Attuma.

Tyrak – Cole Hauser: Cole Hauser’s not a name you’ll see on the front of Entertainment Weekly, but this child of Hollywood royalty has quietly built up a great track record of work in film and television in bit parts such as in the last Die Hard movie, Olympus Has Fallen and older movies such as Dazed & Confused. I see in him a young version of Terminator‘s Michael Beihn and that seems like a great fit to play the honor-bound Atlantean warrior.


  1. Kit Harrington isn’t the right GoT alum to portray Namor, if they do a live action Namor I want to see Jason Momoa do it.

    • Yeah, maybe someone a little more exotic looking, ethereal.

      Er, I got no one.

    • Daniel Dae Kim?

    • Oh, he could do it!

    • Yeah, I’m not so sure about Kit Harrington as Namor, even after seeing him buffed up in that Pompeii trailer. Yes, the actor has to have a certain physicality (which I’m not sure Harrington has), but even more important is capturing the attitude, appeal and intensity, coupled with a certain otherworldly aura. It’s a tough role.

      Other than that, and Attuma, I do like the casting choices.

  2. I have complaints/suggestions about this, but I want to see the movie set up in the article so much anyway I’m not gonna bother to post them. Make this happen.

  3. Patrick Duffy as Namor….oh wait…..

  4. No Namorita?

  5. I have to say, great concept! I love that you included Betty Dean, a very important person in Namor’s life, and a great character to stand in for the audience in introducing the underwater world. I do hate to see the WWII connection gone, but MCU has already done away with it and Namor’s connection to Cap. However, you’ve got to include Princess Fen, Namor’s mother.

    Also think your idea for a political intrigue / horror is intriguing, and would be unique amongst the super-hero movies we’ve seen thus far. I’ve always thought James Cameron (hey, I’m dreaming big in my casting) would be awesome for a Namor movie, but of course, he probably wouldn’t fit with your concept as well.