Avengers: Namor Finds a Perfect Foil in Echo – and it Highlights His Best Dramatic Quality

Namor the Sub-Mariner is one of the oldest Marvel characters, debuting during the Golden Age of Comics before Marvel Comics even existed as it does today. Now, the character seems to be poised to come to the big screen in the upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Hopefully, he’ll bring his truly unique perspective to the superhero universe to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Namor’s character makes him perfectly poised to be pretty much anyone and everyone’s foil, as highlighted in Avengers #58 (by Jason Aaron, Javier Garron, David Curiel, and VC’s Cory Petit) when Namor finally airs out his current problems with Echo. He also hints at what kind of man he really is.

The Avengers current trek through time chasing after Mephisto has largely paired the large team into duos, allowing lingering tensions to come to the forefront. But one of the pairings instantly seemed to be condemned to awkward confrontation: Echo and Namor. The former is the current wielder of the Phoenix Force, being embraced by the cosmic force during the “Enter the Phoenix” storyline despite being defeated by Namor. Namor’s harsh edge hasn’t been sanded off his recent return to the Avengers, although he does seem to accept why everyone is mad at him.

Despite the apparent tension, their team-up witnessing the Ghost Ronin ends up revealing a new angle to their relationship. Especially as the Ghost Ronin encourages Namor to be honest with his teammate. This prompts Namor, who’d earlier been commenting on how Echo shouldn’t have the Phoenix Force, to promise to do everything he can to stop Echo if she is ever corrupted into the Dark Phoenix. But Echo doesn’t see it as a threat, instead noting that Namor means it out of sincerity and loyalty instead of any malicious intent.

Echo notes the honesty in his comments, and appreciates that he would vow to kill her if she loses control as a means of apologizing for trying to murder her earlier. It’s a quiet moment for both characters, and speaks to one of Namor’s most engaging elements as a character, his ability to be both great and the worst at the same time, making him an ideal foil for other characters to bounce off of.

Throughout his history, Namor has never necessarily been a hero or a villain. He’s been friends with Captain America, fought alongside the Avengers and Fantastic Four, and been a hero. But he’s also so committed to his rigid view on the world, that he will excuse any moment of betrayal if it serves his purposes. He’s a man who would work with the Illuminati and turn to the Cabal if they aren’t doing enough damage. It speaks to his historic disregard for the bonds of friendship (like how he sacrificed his friendship with Captain America to renew his stance on protecting Atlantis) or love (like his flirtatious history with the Invisible Woman).

But there’s also often genuine and positive intent behind his actions, regardless of how devastating they may be. There’s a good man beneath all that aggressive bluster, as Echo notes with some affection. This newfound mutual respect with Echo doesn’t detract from his darker side, but it does highlight the uniquely principled man that he is. Echo’s scene with Namor highlights what makes the character an interesting foil, that he sees as potential friends and potential enemies alike. Ahead of the character’s potential debut in the MCU, that’s something creators should remember that makes him a truly unique fixture in the Marvel Universe.

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