Long before Bruce Banner was struck by the United States (illegal) above-ground gamma bomb test, Namor filled the role he did amongst modern superhumans. In short: Is he hero, villain, or both? Namor would say he thinks such a designation is for lesser individuals. This does nothing to ease people's unease about him.
The son of sea captain Leonard Mackenzie and Emperor Thakorr' daughter, Fen, Namor was raised as the pink-skinned mutant child of the Atlantean Royal Family. Growing up an object of scorn and ridicule only slightly less than Tyrion Lannister, Namor devoted himself to the military arts. Stronger than any Atlantean, he was not so strong they could not fight him in groups and he learned many a lesson.
Just not in humility.
Namor's initial attacks on the surface world were motivated by a combination of arrogance, a desire to prove himself, and a need to hit something. Surprisingly, though, Namor found the people of the 1930s surface world slightly more accepting than his Atlantean kin. The affections of police woman, Betty Dean, also softened him to general humanity. Confronted with the threat of the Axis powers, Namor directed his rage completely at evil and found it good.
Namor was never popular with his fellow superheroes of this time, though. While he had fast friendships with his fellow invaders, this was primarily because of their outsider status rather than the fact they were superheroes. The Human Torch was an android shaped like a human, alienated from humanity every bit as much as Namor. Spitfire was a woman driven to succeed in a society that didn't accept her contribution to the war effort. Captain America was, well, Captain America and an idealistic kid in a demigod's body.
The Justice Society find Namor imperious, arrogant, condescending, and a dozen other names. Quite a few questioned his redemption and plenty desired to teach him a lesson, lessons Namor was more than willing to fight back on. About the only members he did get along with were Carter Hall (Hawkman) and Ted Grant (Wildcat).
Ted Grant actually hated the Submariner at first and Namor likewise held the man in contempt. It was realization Wildcat was willing to take a beating against hopeless odds which won the Submariner's respect.
Ted Grant reciprocated Namor's respect after the Submariner traveled to Japan to free Wildcat (and 10,000 other American POWs about to be sacrificed to Oda Nobunaga) so they could continue their last bout. After that, Ted and Namor became Vitrolic Best Buds.The rest of the Justice Society, of course, would do this. It's just Wildcat would do it in a pointless brawl with a fellow hero just to prove he's not going to back down. What other heroes would label as stupidity, Namor saw as valor.
Which is another reason no one likes him.
The first Wonder Woman, Hippolyta, had a particular distaste for Namor for reasons that you might guess. Atlantean society was less chauvenist than the surface world but Namor thought her someone who should appreciate his intentions toward her. The fact Namor became MORE attracted to her after she beat the living **** about him only made things worse.
Namor was on a mission to impress her when he intercepted Baron Blitzkrieg attempting to destroy Metropolis with a crude alien-created nuclear missile. Namor saved the city but was badly injured during the fight, surviving only due to his mutation. Amnesiac and brain damaged, Namor washed up on the shores of New York City and spent decades recovering. Only the timely intervention of Johnny Storm resulted in him returning to the water and regaining his full powers.
Namor wasn't impressed with the changes to the world in his absence, above or below the waves. The surface worlders had destroyed massive amounts of the oceans and were well on their way to destroying themselves--enough so that Namor has stated, several times, he believes Ra's Al Ghul has the right of things. The underwater kingdoms had fragmented with many electing dictators and someone he despises above nearly all others.
Arthur Curry a.k.a "That cheap golden-haired imitation."
Aquaman, bluntly, considers Namor to be one of his rogues gallery and the two have a duel-to-the-near-death about once a year (ala Sabertooth and Wolverine). Namor generally gets the better of these contests but the fact Aquaman persistently improves and shows greater imagination irritates the Submariner to no end.
A part of Namor, one he deeply represses, actually enjoys facing off against someone so similar and capable of testing him to his limits. His royal dignity would NEVER allow him to acknowledge Aquaman as an equal precisely because of these similarities, however. There's also political concerns as Namor believes himself to be the ruler of ALL Atlantis while Arthur rules a substantial break-away state in Tritanopolis and its surrounding holdings.
Namor's drive to prove himself better than not only Aquaman but all of the Atlanteans who scorned him in his youth have resulted in the monarch improving ties with the surface world. His style of doing so is diametrically opposed to King Arthur Curry. Namor attempts to negotiate from a position of strength in all dealings and even diplomacy tends to sound like not-so veiled threats. Strangely, this works and many nations treat Namor's Atlantis as seriously as one of the U.N. Security Council--a respect Arthur struggles to gain.Namor has conspicuously NOT attempted to conquer Arthur's territory, however.
The times Aquaman's brother has usurped the throne, though? Yeah, that's a different story.
Arthur has, thus far, managed to throw him out.
Namor has also recently taken up the cause of mutant-human relations, partially because his ego needed the stroking of being one of the most recognizably powerful mutants in the world. There's also the reasonable change Namor was genuinely moved by their plight. Namor hates not being the strongest being in the room but he's quite generous to suitably respectful weaker beings. Unfortunately, this ended with him becoming possessed by the Dark Phoenix and triggering a war with Wakanda--one of the few surface-world nations capable of fighting Atlantis.This attitude also made him indispensable to both the Illuminati (Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, Professor Xavier, Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Batman, and Hippolyta) and the Cabal (Norman Osbourne, Vandal Savage, Loki, Emma Frost, Doctor Doom, Circe, and the Hood).
It should be noted both Lex Luthor and Ra's Al Ghul have attempted to make alliances with Namor but both failed miserably for various reasons.
Any article on Namor would be incomplete without mentioning the Submariner's appetites. The Submariner has been involved with countless women over the decades with several having attracted his eye more than others. He, in particular, was attracted to Sue Storm and briefly lured her away from her husband. Namor also set his sights on making Wonder Woman his queen, which went over about as well as his attempts to do with her mother. The Submariner's attractions run wild with his affairs including mutants, aliens, humans, hybrids, goddesses, and more. It is said he's inclined towards the unattainable, however, which may indicate he's not too interested in anything serious.
Namor the Submariner's strength has grown and faded over the years. At peak power, he is fully capable of beating Superman up. God knows, Namor has tried.There's also that thing with his cousin. Namor makes no defense, basically saying such attitudes are beneath him. It also helps Aquaria Nautica Neptunia (Namora) is beautiful, heroic, a fellow hybrid, and one of the few Atlanteans to treat him with any kind of decency growing up.
A bit far from the Lannisters, there.
Unfortunately, his power level is near-mystically tied to his proximity to the ocean so a battle in a desert or other arid environment will rapidly weaken him. Armed with the Trident of Neptune, however, Namor will never lose his strength and he's fully capable of taking precautions to maintain his strength in other environments. He just rarely does because that would be a sign of weakness.Superman taking him to near-space showed this was a very bad idea and is one of the few times the Submariner has been humbled.
Namor is also possessed of the mutant power of flight, which has nothing to do with his Atlantean abilities.Also, take note, Namor's strength is so much greater than his fellow Atlanteans BECAUSE of his human heritage. For whatever bizarre reason, hybrids are possessed of multipled levels of strength once they reach adulthood.
This does nothing to reduce Atlantean racism.