While fans are looking forward to the Marvel Comics characters that were licensed to 20th Century Fox— the X-Men and Fantastic Four, plus any related characters– to enter the Marvel Studios fold, there is one characters that they shouldn’t hold their breath waiting to see on the big screen– at least not from Marvel. The rights to Namor the Sub-Mariner are “slightly more complicated than that,” according to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.
It appears that the rights to one of the very first Marvel heroes are held by Universal Studios in association with Legendary Entertainment (the company responsible for the Christopher Nolan ‘Dark Knight’ movies, ‘Superman Returns’ and ‘Watchmen’ as well as other DC-based films). When asked about the likelihood of seeing the first mutant as part of the Marvel film universe, Feige did not sound hopeful.
I think there’s a way to probably figure it out but it does have — it’s not as clean or clear as the majority of the other characters.
Namor the Sub-Mariner debuted in ‘Marvel Comics’ #1 published in 1939. Along with Captain America and the original android Human Torch, he became one of the flagship characters of the publisher, known at the time as Timely Comics. Like most superheroes, they disappeared in the early 1950s as Timely switched its focus to giant monster stories (including Groot!). When the publisher switched its name to Marvel Comics and began publishing superhero comics again, writer Stan Lee wasted little time in bringing back the Sub-Mariner in ‘Fantastic Four’ #4 in 1962.
In his earliest Silver Age appearances, he was more of a villain, but he eventually evolved into a hero– or as many attest, the first comic book anti-hero. He starred in his own segment of the 1966 ‘Marvel Super Heroes’ cartoon and over the years, he has popped up as a guest star on various Marvel animated series. There were plans to feature the character in his own live action series, first in the 1950s, then again in the ’70s.
Plans for a live action movie first emerged in 1997 but it was bogged down in development hell ever since, with the rights bouncing from one studio to another. Unfortunately, based on Feige’s words, it looks as though the King of the Deep will remain there for the foreseeable future.
Would you like to see Namor the Sub-Mariner in a movie? What if it weren’t by Marvel? Are you disappointed to learn that Marvel doesn’t have the rights?