How Do Marvel and DC’s Underwater Titans Compare?

As superhero comics date back nearly a century, it is not surprising that there have been a number of instances in which characters with similar premises have been created. This is particularly the case for Namor and Aquaman, Marvel and DC’s Atlantean heroes. However, as each has progressed over the decades, they have grown to play different roles within their respective worlds. As Aquaman has already made his on-screen debut, and Namor’s is coming later this year, it is time to explore the differences between both characters.

Namor made his debut in 1939 in Marvel Comics #1 (By Bill Everett), and Aquaman followed merely two years later in More Fun Comics #73 (By Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris) in 1941. The characters have gone through changes since their creations, becoming forces to be reckoned with.

Namor’s origin begins with his father, Leonard Mckenzie, a sailor who embarked on a trip to Antarctica in 1920 in search of remnants from a ship that had crashed over a dozen years ago. The crew began blowing up ice floes, not knowing an Atlantean city lay beneath them, and that they were killing its people. The incident caught the attention of the Atlantean princess Fen, who would go investigate the ship. Here, she would meet Leonard and the two would begin an unlikely romance. This was short-lived, however, as the ship was attacked by the Atlanteans, and the lovers were separated. Namor would be born soon after and go on to become king, facing off against the original Human Torch, and battling alongside Captain America in World War II.

Meanwhile, in the DC Universe, Thomas Curry was a lighthouse keeper who was caught in a storm and rescued by Atlanna, the Queen of Atlantis. The two would fall in love with Atlanna eventually becoming pregnant. Upon hearing the news, she requested permission to be relieved of her royal duties and join her lover in the surface world, however, she was imprisoned. She was able to escape and gave birth to Arthur Curry, leaving her son with his father as she returned to Atlantis. Here she would give birth to Arthur’s half-brother Orm, who shares many similarities with Namor, being a stringent ruler of Atlantis. Arthur would develop superhuman abilities, and eventually take the title of king from his brother.

Unlike Aquaman, who was a reluctant king, Namor grew up feeling as if the throne was his destiny. Also differentiating him from Aquaman is that Namor is solely interested in what is best for Atlantis unlike Arthur, who is caught between the two worlds, ruling in hopes that the two could live at peace. Namor has led many attacks against the surface for their transgressions against Atlantis, and even flooded Wakanda when they were harboring enemies of Atlantis. Unlike Aquaman, he blurs the lines between hero and villain, having teamed up with heroes such as the Avengers, X-Men, and villains like Doctor Doom and Thanos.

Furthermore, while both heroes wield tridents, Namor does not make use of his to the degree that Arthur does and has not discovered the full extent of its powers. Aquaman on the other hand uses his trident extensively, having used it to battle Darkseid, and even piercing Superman’s skin with it. Aquaman has also had weapons attached to his body after the loss of his left hand, including a harpoon hand and a mystical hand made of water. Another major differentiating feature between the two is that Namor is a mutant, with his genetic mutation being wings on his ankles that give him the ability to fly

As a whole, despite the premises of the two characters being similar, Namor and Aquaman have a wide number of things that differentiate them. Throughout their histories the two characters have gone through many shifts in personality, oftentimes being depicted as similar in nature, though over the years each has come to develop a distinct persona. With Namor making his MCU debut in the coming months, it will be interesting to see which facets of the character make their way onto the big screen.

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