Looking Back #6: The Failed Namor The Sub-Mariner Movie of 2006

In the 6th installment of Looking Back, I'll be taking a look at all the proposed Namor movie from Universal Pictures. Jonathan Mostow was attached to direct and rewrite a script previously written by David Self.

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Previously, I took a look at the history of all the proposed Batman movies Warner Bros. had in development after Batman & Robin and before Batman Begins. In this latest edition, I'll be looking at Universal Pictures' proposed Namor the Sub-Mariner project of 2006 that was never produced. Ultimately, some very interesting news emerged from Universal's September 13,2006 announcement that could have a significant impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe [Namor Avengers Theory] although its probably not the news that Universal Pictures initially hoped for.

There were very early rumblings back in 2005 that a Sub-Mariner movie was in the works and the always reputable Variety even went so far as to report that then, Harry Potter director Chris Columbus was attached to direct. However, on September 13, 2006, Universal Pictures announced that director Jonathan Mostow [Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, The Surrogates] was attached to rewrite and direct Marvel Studios' Sub-Mariner. Kevin Misher was to produce through his Misher Films, along with Marvel Studios. Mostow was to rewrite a screenplay that had initially been written by David Self (Road to Perdition). Everyone's initial reaction to the news at that time was, "Wait....what?" Fans didn't think this was necessarily a bad move, the disinclination centered around the fact that everyone assumed that Fox owned the rights to Namor through Fantastic Four, which was released back in 2005. Much to everyone's chagrin Fox did not own the rights to the Prince of Atlantis. In a 2009 interview with Collider, Mostow shared the following details about the project:

Unlike “Iron-Man”, “Captain America” and “The Avengers”, which are owned by Marvel, Universal owns the rights to “Sub-Mariner” and can produce the film. According to Jonathan, Universal always renewed the option for the property, so they have the rights like 20th Century Fox has with “X-Men”, and like Sony has with “Spider-Man”. What that means is if Universal eventually makes “Sub-Mariner”, he’s not going to be part of the ever growing Marvel Universe unless Marvel and Universal strike a deal of some kind.

The other thing he told me was that the project was in active development. He said the big hang-up is getting the script right and they haven’t cracked it yet. He said making a great super-hero movie is really tough and without the right script it’s impossible.

Notice that long gap between the initial announcement back in 2006 and the interview with Collider in 2009 and the fact that Mostow basically said "I gots nothin." Hear that sound? That's the sound of Universal Pictures losing the rights to Namor and the character swimming back to the Marvel camp.

In another Collider interview, this time in 2010 with Marvel's Kevin Feige, it was revealed that Universal Pictures didn't own the rights to any Marvel characters, effectively declaring that Namor was indeed able to be deployed by Marvel at anytime they wished.

Naturally, many fans speculated that the perfect introduction for Namor would be in Captain America as he is after all, the person who finds Cap frozen in a block of ice in the comics. Indeed, it was heavily believed by many that Namor would appear in Captain America and at one point, CBM's own Brent Sprecher was able to talk to Director Joe Johnston about whether the little feet would appear on Namor in the film. Unless Namor, is being reinvisioned as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, we now know he wasn't in the movie.

Not much ever surfaced about the Self script or the Mostow version, but Variety at one time reported that the script centered on depicting Namor as a young man who discovers he is a descendant of the long-lost kingdom of Atlantis and turns out to be the key man in a war brewing between the underwater and surface worlds.

There were naturally rumors during Universal's 3 year ownership of the Namor rights as to who would play the titular character in the film and many names did indeed pop up down the years, including Ryan Reynolds, David Boreanaz, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

More recently a few big names have expressed their interest and admiration of the character including Johnny Depp and Daniel Dae Kim. Coincidence? Or secretly campaigning for a role they know to be coming up? [Namor Avengers Theory]

Yes. Reynolds.....at one time.....up for....

Harry Potter and Percy Jackson director Chris Columbus was attached to direct Namor before Jonathan Mostow.

A recent rumor emerging in July of this year had Zac Efron attached to play Namor....right. This rumor was so ridiculous it was never even posted on CBM. Still if your curious, you can read about it here.


Namor the Sub-Mariner is a fictional comic book character in the Marvel Comics universe, and one of the first superheroes, debuting in Spring 1939. The character was created by writer-artist Bill Everett for Funnies Inc., one of the first "packagers" in the early days of comic books that supplied comics on demand to publishers looking to enter the new medium. Initially created for the unreleased comic Motion Picture Funnies Weekly, the Sub-Mariner first appeared publicly in Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939) — the first comic book from Timely Comics, the 1930s-1940s predecessor of the company Marvel Comics. During that period, known to historians and fans as the Golden Age of Comic Books, the Sub-Mariner was one of Timely's top three characters, along with Captain America and the original Human Torch. Everett said the character's name was inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner". Everett came up with "Namor" by writing down noble sounding names backwards and thought Roman/Namor looked the best.

The mutant son of a human sea captain and of a princess of the mythical undersea kingdom of Atlantis, Namor possesses the super-strength and aquatic abilities of the "Homo mermanus" race, as well as the mutant ability of flight, along with other superhuman powers. Through the years, he has been alternately portrayed as a good-natured but short-fused superhero, or a hostile invader seeking vengeance for perceived wrongs that misguided surface-dwellers committed against his kingdom.

The first known comic book antihero, the Sub-Mariner has remained a historically important and relatively popular Marvel character. He has served directly with the Avengers, Fantastic Four, the Invaders, and the X-Men as well as serving as a foil to all of them on occasion.

By: TwitterButtons.com

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