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Namor's 'Imperius Rex!' Battle Cry In Wakanda Forever Has A Long History

The following article contains spoilers for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever."

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" fleshes out the Marvel universe a little more by introducing a new nation previously unknown to the rest of the world. Talokan is an underwater kingdom populated by people who can extract the oxygen out of water. And their ruler is K'uk'ulkan, the feathered serpent god, otherwise known as Namor the Sub-Mariner (Tenoch Huerta). 

Namor shares many similarities with the various rulers of Wakanda. Ultimately, he wants his people to remain safe, which for a long time has required keeping the kingdom secret from the rest of the world. But whereas T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) revealed Wakanda's secrets by the end of "Black Panther," Namor has succeeded in keeping Talokan a secret ... for the most part. Wakandans know of the truth, which by the film's end, results in an uneasy truce of sorts. 

Namor is one of the more interesting antagonists in a Marvel film because, much like Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), the audience understands where he comes from to an extent. He's been translated well from comic book pages to the big screen, and that includes Namor using his signature catchphrase at least once during the movie's proceedings.

Imperius Rex!

If you pay close attention to the subtitles during an important battle in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," you might notice that at one point, Namor shouts out, "Imperius Rex!" This is, of course, a Latin phrase where "rex" translates to "king" while "imperius" means something akin to "emperor" or "commander of the armies." So it begs the question as to why Namor shouts this during such a pivotal moment in the film. 

To be frank, it's pretty much there because it's Namor's catchphrase from the comics. Namor and other Atlanteans frequently shout this phrase before heading into battle. Remember, in the comics, Namor is the ruler of Atlantis, not Talokan, which is the case for "Wakanda Forever." 

Namor and the Atlanteans were heavily influenced by Roman culture (via Imperius Wrecked). In fact, "Namor" is "Roman" spelled backward. Despite being created in 1939, Namor wouldn't start saying "Imperius rex" until the 1960s when he was reintroduced in a "Fantastic Four" comic. And it's stuck ever since, eventually making its way into the most recent Marvel flick.

Namor explained Imperius Rex in a Thor comic

Every great comic book character needs a catchphrase. The Thing has "It's clobberin' time!" The Hulk has the incredibly similar "Hulk smash!" However, those are both pretty straightforward; they mean exactly what they say. But suffice it to say, plenty of people have been confused whenever Namor shouts "Imperius rex" before battling anyone. 

Fortunately, Namor provided some clarification in Thor #1, which came out in 2018 (via CBR). In the book, Thor does battle with Namor, and naturally, against such a formidable opponent, Namor unleashes his signature catchphrase. Thor responds to this by saying thusly, "All these years, Namor, and I still have no idea what that even means." Namor sheds a light on the situation by explaining, "It means I'm going to feed your sorry Asgardian hide to the biggest sharks I can find!"

Going by the Latin translation, it's evident that it doesn't literally translate to that, but it does a good job of capturing the essence of what Namor likely means whenever he shouts it. At the end of the day, it's just something cool-sounding for him and his allies to yell when they're about to kick some butt. And even though Namor's backstory was changed in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," it's nice to see that the catchphrase made its way into the film unscathed.