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Wakanda Forever's Namor Proves The MCU's Doctor Doom Could Be Great

Contains spoilers for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"

Fans of Marvel's own Doctor Doom have been dealt heavy blow upon heavy blow when it comes to live-action adaptations. The 1994 version of Doctor Doom (Joseph Culp) looks the part, but never got to make much of an impact because Roger Corman's "Fantastic Four" movie never saw an official release. The 2004 movie of the same name and its sequel both feature Julian McMahon's take on Victor Von Doom, which isn't the worst live-action portrayal of the character ... though this may or may not be because Josh Trank's messy 2015 "Fantastic Four" reimagines the character (portrayed here by Toby Kebbell) and his design with a hand so heavy, it might as well be wearing one of the original Doctor Doom's armored gloves. 

But what does all this have to do with "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," a movie that decidedly doesn't feature the armored ruler of Latveria? As it turns out, plenty. "Wakanda Forever" features the Marvel Cinematic Universe debut of an antagonist who shares numerous traits with Doom in the comics, both in his nature and in the sense that he's extremely tricky to translate from print to screen. Let's take a look at how "Wakanda Forever" treats Namor (Tenoch Huerta), and why the MCU version of the character is a very good sign for fans who are waiting for Doctor Doom's arrival.  

Live-action versions of Namor and Doom pose similar challenges

Because they're both major, long-running comic book characters whose core personalities developed during their early appearances, Doom and Namor are both among the arguably toughest Marvel characters to adapt for live action. Comic book panels allow for far more self-obsessed monologuing and haughty, overacted posturing than movies do, and both of these characters are masters of these fields. 

As a result, Doctor Doom and the Sub-Mariner have both developed into incredibly powerful and threatening characters ... who also happen to be ultra-melodramatic cheeseballs with features that work very well on paper, but are incredibly hard to bring to screen. Namor has his whole ankle wings-and-green Speedo thing, while Doom's hindered by his ever-present, emotionless face plate. 

And yet, when Namor enters the MCU in "Wakanda Forever," he brings almost all of his most notorious comic book traits with him. The "Black Panther" sequel manages to deliver a very cool take on Namor. Despite some changes, the live-action character manages to be very, very faithful to the spirit of the original, while also stealthily doing away with some of the comic book Namor McKenzie's more ridiculous properties.

Namor's successful live-action adaptation indicates that the MCU is ready to deliver a great Doctor Doom

Tenoch Huerta's Namor in "Wakanda Forever" is vain, haughty, imposing and hostile to the surface world — yet romantic, charismatic, and noble in his own way, not to mention very good to his own people. He has well-designed versions of his green swimwear, elf ears and ankle wings, none of which hinder his threatening look in the slightest. His power level is comparable to the comics version. He's specifically stated to be a mutant in the MCU, and at one point he even manages to sneak in a version of his classic "Imperius Rex" war cry. When you combine this with his heavy Mesoamerican god-king makeover, all of this translates to a surprisingly accurate adaption that manages to actually add to the source material, instead of taking away from it.

The fact that Namor's MCU adaptation manages to capture the essence of the character so well is great news for Doctor Doom, too. The comics have already done a great work to bring him nuance without ever sacrificing his core nature as an arrogant villain, so the MCU has plenty of inspiration to build on when they finally bring Victor Von Doom in ... and, unlike with Namor, there are already plenty of live-action Dooms to show what definitely won't work. And hey, if they feel uncertain, Kevin Feige always has Ryan Coogler's number. Judging by what he achieved with Namor, there's no way he couldn't do Doom justice, as well. 

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is now in theaters.