Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had a daunting task, and – for the most part – the sequel accomplished what it set out. As we wrote in our review, Ryan Coogler’s second outing managed to respectfully and emotionally address the death of Chadwick Boseman while allowing the story to continue beyond its star’s absence.
Like any Marvel movie, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever also had to work within the confines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This involves setting up future films and shows, as well as introducing us to new characters.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had three of those big MCU tasks: setting up the Midnight Angels and Ironheart, as well as introducing us to the undersea kingdom of Talokan and its leader: Namor, played by Tenoch Huerta. When Namor was first teased as the “big bad” of Black Panther: Wakanda Foreverfans were rightly excited.
Namor has been a staple of Marvel Comics since its inception (yes, he featured in the very first comic) and seeing him finally get the big screen treatment was long overdue. Although the film deviates greatly from its source material, there are small nods and inspirations from the comics.
It’s no spoiler to say that the overriding threat to Wakanda in the movie is the impending battle with Talokan, teased in all of the trailers. There is indeed a comic plot in which Namor floods Wakanda (since the Avengers vs. X-Men script).
In the film, Namor becomes suspicious that the surface world is searching for Vibranium, a direct result of Wakanda’s foray into the international community following the events of the first Black Panther. During the battle, the details of which we won’t go into to avoid spoilers, Namor at one point says “imperius rex”, which prompted a cheer from some audience members during a screening at which we attended. The phrase comes straight from the comics and is Namor’s battle cry.
As established in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Namor himself is something of a god, and is even called by his people Ku’ku’lkán, which is the feathered serpent god. This fits into the film’s new storyline in which Mesoamerican culture is the foundation of the Talokan people.
In the comics, Namor’s name was created by artist Bill Everett by writing noble-sounding names back and forth; he landed on Namor/Roman as his choice. The movie, however, gives him a much more interesting backstory.
Namor tells Shuri that he took the name Namor when a Spanish colonizer called him a loveless child, or “sin amor” and the name Namor was coined. What’s most interesting about this change is how it deepens the themes that Coogler explored in the first Black Panther.
As Huerta said, “In Latin America, especially in Mexico, we deny our indigenous roots. It’s like a gesture sometimes, but in general terms we deny it because it’s not about genes for us, because almost everyone in Mexico has indigenous or African roots. roots – it’s a matter of culture.
“Culturally, we are removed from indigenous roots, so embracing those roots and honoring those two main sources in Latin America, which are African and indigenous roots, is really important. A way of working in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in the salvation that the Talokan people give themselves. The open palm, with the heels of each hand touching, is based on a gesture seen in many Mesoamerican codices, statues, and paintings (like a statue of the Mayan corn deity here).
Another way in which this cultural specificity, and the way it is perceived by those who are not part of a given culture, is reflected in the way Namor’s name is pronounced by non-Talokanians. The film features two pronunciations.
Producer Nate Moore said Phase zero“There is certainly a way for a Spanish speaker – or even a Mayan speaker – to say Nämor [Nah-mor]as opposed to a way an English speaker – or someone who is a bit more Western in bias – might say Nāmor [Nay-mor]. And we thought that was just interesting. I mean, it’s a reality that people deal with, and it was more authentic than having everyone pronounce it correctly, to be completely honest.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now playing in cinemas.
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