Though the Marvel Cinematic Universe is known for its Easter eggs and interconnectivity, few fans expected to see a shoutout to Namor in the midst of Captain America: Civil War. The more grounded spy story of the 2016 film’s plot dealt more with Zemo reactivating the sleeper programs embedded in the ex-Hydra Winter Soldier to turn the Avengers against one another, but at the heart of that plot was almost a classic Marvel Comics weapon.
As it stands, the plot of Civil War revolved around Zemo’s efforts to get ahold of a secret journal holding the key phrases that would activate the Winter Soldier’s mind control. Once Zemo has ahold of the book he is capable of putting Bucky at the center of Captain America and Iron Man’s struggle with their ideals, made all the more effective because of Bucky’s clandestine assassination of Iron Man’s parents years before. There are so many moving parts to Zemo’s plan that it’s easy to forget how crucial the secret journal was to making the plan work. That makes it even more curious when it comes to light that it almost wasn’t a journal at all.
In the commentary to Civil War, the Russo Brothers revealed that in the early drafts for the script the McGuffin of the film was the Serpent Crown rather than an old Soviet journal. The Serpent Crown is an object of immense power from the comics and has long mythology behind it involving the lost civilization of Lemuria and the Elder God Set who used the Crown to cultivate followers to worship him. Toward that end, the Crown was a powerful mind control weapon, possessing the one who wears it to become a sort of high-priest in Set’s service as he enacts his mystical machinations through the will of others.
Of course, that didn’t make it into the movie and what fans got were flashbacks to the Memory Suppressing Machine used by Hydra and the journal that activates its key phrases. But tying in the Serpent Crown could have made the mythology of the movie about a million times kookier. To further crank up the kook factor, the Serpent Crown actually would have been an important piece in introducing Namor to the MCU at last, as the object was actually responsible for the amnesia that caused the Sub-Mariner of the comics to lay low between World War II and the modern era.
That’s right, in the comics, the reason that Namor went from a global figure alternating between attacking humanity on behalf of Atlantis or defending it from the Nazis to obscurity following the war, is that he did not remember who he was. Due to the Serpent Crown’s intervention, Namor believed he was a human and walked the earth as a vagabond unsure of his past. That is until the Human Torch recognized him, dropped him in water and kickstarted his memory.
Does the story seem a little far-fetched for the MCU? Perhaps, but there’s no doubt that it could have been a dazzling degree of mythos to introduce, and it’s almost a shame that there remain no pre-established means of introducing Namor as it stands. Of course, it could be that the creative team behind the MCU’s overarching plot decided to hold off on the Serpent Crown and to save it as a bigger plot yet to come. This would mean that the subplot was not discarded due to being too far out, but that it actually just had too much potential to limit to such a small role.
In the absence of the Infinity Stones, there’s certainly a shortage of McGuffins to help drive Marvel’s Phase Four plot, and the Serpent Crown is actually a set of three ancient objects that could work perfectly as the motivating force behind the next big heroic team-up. The Thorned Crown and the Crown of Tentacles served similar brainwashing purposes toward the end of ancient and powerful beings, and with mysticism an ever-growing part of the MCU’s lore it’s hard to imagine a more fitting threat.
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Captain America: Civil War almost saw Zemo use a mystic object from the pages of Marvel Comics to control the Winter Solider.