Black Panther: Wakanda Forever introduces Namor the Sub-Mariner to the MCU along with “Imperius Rex,” an iconic catchphrase from the comics.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever introduced Namor, the Sub-Mariner, to the MCU, including his classic catchphrase “Imperius Rex!” Played by Tenoch Huerta, Namor debuted as the ruler of the undersea kingdom Talokan and is believed to be the incarnation of the god K’uk’ulkan. Namor led Talokan to war against the nation of Wakanda after their refusal to form an alliance to conquer the world. This culminated in a final reckoning between Namor and Shuri, the MCU’s new Black Panther.
While their forces waged war in the ocean, Shuri and Namor faced off on land in a final showdown of superpowered rulers. Responding to Shuri’s battle cry of “Wakanda Forever,” Namor replied with his own: “Imperius Rex!” With Wakanda Forever hitting Disney+, it brings up the question once again of what this line means. While he waited until the film’s third act to say it, the line is the Talokan king’s classic catchphrase in the comics. Loosely translated from Latin, it means “Empire King.” As such, the line serves as a dynamic reference to the anti-hero’s comics origins while also giving him an epic counter to the classic Wakandan phrase in the MCU.
How Marvel Comics Explained Namor’s Imperius Rex Battlecry
While not having a direct translation, Namor’s catchphrase “Imperius Rex” is meant to sound intimidating while fitting with his name, originally conceived by Marvel Comics writer Bill Everett who simply reversed the spelling of “Roman.” That being said, there was one instance in Marvel Comics where Thor finally asked Namor what the catchphrase means while they were locked in combat in 2018’s Thor #1. Providing a less-than-serious reply, Namor said that “It means I’m going to feed your sorry Asgardian hide to the biggest sharks I can find!” While there’s never really been an exact explanation as to what Namor’s iconic battle cry truly means, it does sound pretty cool (which is ultimately the point).
Why It’s Good The MCU Included Namor’s Imperius Rex Catchphrase
Keeping the original comics in mind, it’s rather fitting that there’s no explanation for the MCU Namor’s catchphrase “Imperius Rex” either. In fact, Namor’s “Imperius Rex” battle cry makes even less sense for the on-screen Sub-Mariner considering he rules over the Mesoamerican-inspired underwater Talokan rather than Atlantis and its Greco-Roman origins. In truth, it’s just a fun reference meant to honor the character’s comic roots, proving a dedication to representing the character well even if his kingdom of Talokan is different from the MCU.
While “Imperius Rex” is quite an epic verbal Easter egg, it should be noted that Namor and his people also have “Rise Talokan!” as an impressive battle cry as well, which is spoken in their own language. Regardless, it will be interesting to see if Namor’s iconic line ever gets a more direct origin and translation with future appearances of the MCU Sub-Mariner. As it stands, it was certainly a nice touch for his final battle in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Why Marvel Should Never Properly Explain Imperius Rex
While the meaning of “Imperius Rex” remains a mystery, it is one that really doesn’t need to be solved. While Captain America’s “Avengers Assemble“ and Black Panther’s “Wakanda Forever” have obvious meanings, there are other comic book catchphrases that don’t need a meaning. When Doctor Strange says, “By The Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth,” no one really needs to know what those hosts really are. It is just perfect for Strange. When Namor yells, “Imperious Rex,” no one really needs to know what it means. It just screams out about Namor’s arrogance.
There has been confusion about what “Imperious Rex” means, dating back to Namor’s appearances in the 1960s Marvel Comics. When Stan Lee started using it all the time, readers would ask what it meant in the letter pages and Lee actually responded at one time that no one knew why Namor yelled this – not even him. The truth is that the catchphrase has a regal sound to it, and that really is the only meaning it needs, both in comics and in movies like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.