November 27, 2022

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is one of the most anticipated movies of the year. Most notably due to the tragic loss of its star Chadwick Boseman who played the titular hero. Director Ryan Coogler and the cast have been very vocal that the film will address the loss of Boseman and give fans a deeper look into the Afrofuturistic world T’Challa protected – Wakanda.

Yet, with the film, Coogler also has some new surprises in store for fans. Chief among them, the first big screen adaptation of anti-hero Namor and the world he inhabits – Talokan.  It’s one the production says is inspired by Mayan culture and will offer a look at Latino futurism. 

All the elements are covered. Characters, actors, costumes, technology and even music are used to bring this Latino world to life.

 

The Characters

It’s no secret that Namor will make his big screen debut in Wakanda Forever, yet what is not as apparent is that Coogler has taken some creative license with character. In the comic books Namor aka The Sub-Mariner was the child of an American sea captain and an Emperor’s daughter. Born in the capital city of the Atlantean then located under the Antarctic. Yet, in Coogler’s adaption Namor will be from Talokan, a hidden kingdom whose journey almost exactly mirrors that of Wakanda.

Both Namor, his first in command Namora and the citizens of their world are said to be inspired by indigenous Mesopotamian and Mayan cultures.  The underwater world of Talokan is an imaginary world of people who left the Mayan civilization and created one in the ocean.

 

The Actors

No James Franco brown face occurring here. As Coogler enlisted a cast of international actors to bring Namor and Talokan to life.  Enter, Tenoch Huerta, as Namor himself.  The Mexican actor has appeared in films such as Forever Purge, Madres the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico. Of playing Namor and the reinvention of his backstory, Huerta told ABC News, “when I was a kid in Mexico, I never dreamed of being a part of something like this, Namor… one of the biggest messages of this movie is that it’s time to heal the breaks in our hearts and embrace who we are.”

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Also getting top billing in Talokan is actress Mabel Cadena who plays Namora. Of the role, Cadena told ABC News, “this movie changed my own story, when I started this movie, I didn’t speak English…as a Mexican woman with this face to see myself for the first time on the big screen is wonderful.”

 

The New World  

In creating the underwater world of Talokan, the production hired historians and subject matter experts versed in Mayan and Mesopotamian civilizations. The advisors provided direction to set and costume designers as to the meaning and accuracy of the various aspects of the culture, such as the meaning of symbols and hieroglyphics painted on head dresses, pottery, and walls.  These aspects would be incorporated into set pieces and costumes. Each element intricately designed to have cultural meaning that accurately reflects Mayan culture.  Of the costumes Cadena stated, “the costumes change the story for our people and it’s amazing for our representation.”

Coogler didn’t stop at costumes and sets. Talokan also gets its own unique and authentic sound. Composer Ludwig Göransson, enlisted the assistance of musicians and artists native to Mexico to maintain the authenticity of Talokan.  Aleman, Sno Tha Product and Guadalupe de Jesus Poot all make contributions to the soundtrack to help depict Talokan.

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Latino Futurism

Perhaps the biggest contribution is the overall treatment Talokan is said to receive. Production staff have likened it’s journey to Wakanda. Which means we can expect to see Latino futurism. The intersection of technology, culture, art and politics woven together to move the Latino diaspora into the future. Coogler and production are tight lipped but assure surprises are in store. Such as Talakon receiving its very own salute, not unlike the now ubiquitous crossed arms salute symbolizing Wakanda Forever. 

Irrespective of what shows up on screen, perhaps Kelly L. Carter, Emmy winning reporter at ESPN and Andscape said it best when she told ABC News, “Seeing two different groups of brown people on screen in Wakanda Forever is colossal.”

Yes it is.

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