Namor And Talokans In ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,’ Explained

Phase four of the MCU so far was really lacking in quality antagonists, and except for the individual brilliance of Willem Dafoe’s return as Green Goblin in “No Way Home,” there weren’t many portrayals to write home about. With the appearance of the iconic Marvel character, Namor, in the latest MCU release, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” the franchise seems to have found an impactful, strong, and well-rounded character as an antagonist, as well as someone with substantial staying power. Returning director Ryan Coogler, who himself is an avid comic-book fan, conceptualized Namor’s introduction right after the release of the first installment back in 2018 and even requested producer Nate Moore to try not to let other directors use him first. Needless to say, he wanted to portray the villain according to his vision to assert his uniqueness while respecting his comic origin. We will briefly discuss Namor’s comic origin, the introduction of Atlantis ( Talokan in the MCU), and how it served the movie itself.


Spoilers Ahead

Namor In Comics And Portrayal In MCU 

When it comes to Namor, there are a lot of ‘firsts’ associated with him. To begin with, Namor was the very first of Marvel Comics’ super-powered beings and the first-ever anti-hero in comics. Chronologically, Namor predated even iconic Marvel characters like Captain America and was among the first few Golden Age characters. Namor was also the first mutant of Marvel, according to publication history, and his ability to fly was also one of the most unique features among contemporary characters. Presented as a half-Atlantean, half-human character, Namor was endowed with superhuman physiology, which gets even more augmented in an aquatic environment, the ability to fly, low levels of marine life manipulation, and limited hydrokinesis. In comics, he is portrayed as a proud, arrogant, and short-tempered individual with little to no regard for conventional morality. Namor, often treading the narrow path between opposing moral allegiances, is highly individualistic and opportunistic at times.


As Namor shares many similarities with Aquaman, his counterpart in DC Comics (Namor appeared earlier), presenting him in the cinematic universe without drawing comparisons was always going to be a challenge for MCU, given the fact Aquaman has already become an established character in DCU. To counter this, director Ryan Coogler has smartly opted for the route of cultural representation, something that has always been a staple of the Black Panther franchise. In the MCU, Namor is shown to be the benevolent ruler of Talokan, the secretive submerged country he calls home. The Legend of Atlantis has been replaced with real-world Mesoamerican culture and Aztec and Toltec mythology. The denizens of Talokan call Namor “Kukulkan,” which translates to “feathered serpent god.” The moniker is taken from the Mayan God of the same name, and it perfectly suits Namor’s physical attribute of having an Ankle Wing that grants him the ability to fly. (Way better than his goofy comics name, Namor Mackenzie, if anyone asks us.) Namor retains his signature green trunks from the comics, and his body is adorned with jewelry made of vibranium designs that reflect the ancient Mesoamerican culture. His private chambers showcase the murals of classic Aztec and Mayan symbols, which chronicle the history of Talokan, and the fact that the movie shows Namor himself painting those murals adds tone to the character. The Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta, who played the role of Namor, felt the powerful representation the character upholds with dignity and respect resonated with him. However, a significant change that the MCU version added to the character, which the director himself highlighted, is that Namor is written to be extremely caring and protective of his subjects, and rather than a king who rules, he is more of a king who serves. Sure, his actions and moral choices align with the gray area his comics counterpart treads in, but his motives in the movie are given much more justifiable notes. His methods might be brutal, but he does so to protect his people from surface-dwelling aggressors. Having firsthand experience of the inhumane segregation the colonizers subjected native peoples to, he has every reason to be fiercely protective of his state. His heritage as the first mutant in comics has been respected, as in the MCU, he is almost four centuries old, and as a mutant, he’s by default the first one. His fluctuating temperament is vividly shown as, on the one hand, he is a welcoming, warm host to his captives, giving Shuri a guided tour of Talokan and proudly showing their cultural heritage; and on the other hand, he’s dangerously brutal when the security of his country is compromised, exacting retribution by flooding Wakanda and killing Queen Ramonda. Once again, he values the well-being of his people more than his own pride, as he yields to protect the secrecy of his country.

Atlantis In Comics To Talokan In MCU

In the Marvel comics, Atlantis is a continent that was submerged after a “great cataclysm,” and the denizens of the continent came to be known as homo mermanus. These blue-skinned, gill-necked humanoid people are physically superior to the humans and are technologically ahead too. In comics, Namor is the son of a human sea captain and an Atlantean princess. Being half-human and mutant, Namor’s complexion is human-like, and he can breathe air like regular humans. This subjected him to some biased, discriminatory treatment from fellow Atlanteans, too.


For the same reason that Namor’s backstory is given a more representative cultural root, Atlantis has been turned into Talokan. The name is derived from “Tlalocan,” the Aztec paradise governed by the rain god. As Namor explains, almost four centuries ago, a tribe of mesoamerican people tried to flee from Spanish colonizers who invaded their land and brought plague. They followed their shaman’s guidance, who received a vision from their rain god to consume a mystical aquatic herb. Now the similarity with Wakanda’s Panther myth is apparent, as both Talokan and Wakanda had vibranium in abundance, which might have some connection with mystical herbs. However, the herb allowed the tribe to be reborn as blue-skinned, aquatic humanoids, and they set their civilization away from the gaze of the rest of the world. Namor’s mother consumed the herb when she was pregnant, and thus Namor was the first child of the tribe to be born underwater.

The Talokans are depicted as being more tribal, clinging to ancient traditional ways, and having a stronger sense of community than even Wakandans. As a departure from comics’ advanced colorful submerged metropolis, Talokan in “Wakanda Forever” mimics real underwater terrains more, where depth is associated with darkness. In the introduction scene of Talokans attacking an intruding CIA miner vehicle, the scene is played like a deep sea horror sequence, with some Talokans of the attack unit acting as sirens, luring their enemies with their hypnotic voices and wasting them in their watery grave. They are physically superior to regular humans, too, as they manage to corner Wakandan forces every time a battle ensues. They share a great sense of admiration and love for their leader, the feathered serpent God Namor, and they also share his resentment towards surface dwellers. Production designer Hannah Beachlor spent years studying the architecture of Mayan and Aztec relics and ruins to faithfully recreate an underwater paradise in the form of Talokan. Two of the significant Talokan characters who also had speaking roles were Mexican actress Mabel Cadena as Namora, cousin of Namor, and Venezuelan actor Alex Livinalli, who played the warrior general Attuma, representing indigenous culture.


The inclusion of real-life cultural backdrops has once again added much richness to the Black Panther franchise, as the creative take on reinventing Namor and Atlantis in the MCU has most certainly served its purpose of providing people of color with a sense of belonging.

See more: What Does The Future Hold For Namor In The MCU After ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’?

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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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