They don’t know what Namor is. Black Panther: Wakanda forever emphasizes this about its villain, a superhuman, mysterious man who emerges from the bottom of the ocean to threaten the film’s heroes.
“His people,” Winston Duke’s M’Baku says in one of the film’s most memorable lines, “don’t call him General or King. They call him K’uk’ulkan: hairy snake god.” It’s a level of mystery that Namor lives up to until he first speaks out on his own, sneaking into the hidden lands of Wakanda. In less than a minute, Tenoch Huerta’s performance added to the myth, imbuing his first short monologue with wonder, curiosity, history, and threat. He’s like nothing we’ve seen before. He is K’uk’ulkan, as his people call him. He too, as he told Queen Ramonda, Namor towards his enemies.
This is a strong, first hint that Namor has a side that is both different and familiar, one that, when scrutinized, takes on the cartoonish rage of the comic book character he’s based on and from something real. Like several other good villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he’s angry about something important, both to the other characters in the film and to the real-world cultures he represents. face. And like the best villains in any novel, he is simply inevitable, the consequences of causes that should not be forgotten.
Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther films are not just adaptations but reinventions. This is by necessity: Much of the comic source material is ill-suited to modern sensibilities, the trade of stereotypes and dated jokes in dire need of an update. Concurrent with the re-launch of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze’s popular comics, Coogler’s film gave Black Panther and his kingdom a creative and thorough refresh, while also highlighting turn on much of what was already there, to make Wakanda a more perfect African dream. abroad.
What? Wakanda forever doing with Namor and his people is something more radical. In the Marvel comics – where Namor, also known as the Sub-Mariner, is one of the publisher’s first superpower explorers — the character’s origins lie in Atlantis, where he was born the son of a human explorer and an Atlantean princess. Inheriting the throne of the mythical kingdom, Namor will be quick to uphold his Atlantean heritage after witnessing the surface world’s indifference to the ocean, with superpowers to back up his frequent threats to earthly lovers on Earth.
Namor comics are also an absolute pill. He’s arrogant, rude, arrogant, fully believes in his superiority and isn’t afraid to tell you. This means he’s happy to be part of a story and why he’s been around for almost a century. It’s also really pointless: This arrogance doesn’t necessarily stem from anything; it’s merely who he is.
All this is different in Wakanda forever. The film’s biggest twist is a small one: it’s revealed that vibranium, the mysterious metal that powers Wakanda’s technology and economy, exists somewhere else on Earth. This new version of Namor comes from Talokan, an underwater nation founded on and around this other source of vibranium. Midway through the film, Namor explains that Talokan dates back hundreds of years, when European colonists arrived on the Yucatán peninsula, bringing with them a disease that spread among indigenous peoples like wildfire.
In desperation, a tribe discovers a plant modified by vibranium that, when consumed, turns them into superhuman water-breathers, allowing and forcing a retreat to the ocean floor. Namor’s mother was among the mutated, and it changed her pregnancy, turning her son into a mutant: He had wings on his legs and distinctive pointed ears. along with the new-found strength of his people, while preserving his natural skin color and ability to breathe air. His people imbued his birth with divine meaning, a link between their past and future was made in the flesh, and the boy was destined to be king.
Here’s the subtle difference that changes everything: Namor, unlike the late T’Challa or the people he survived, represents and leads a nation born of loss, and loss. that shows everything he does and believes in — and also allows the character to rise above his complicated four-color origin and become perfect leaves for a movie about grief. It also gives him a specific, powerful kind of rage that isn’t present on the page of the comics, its origins. Wakanda forever briefly but in painful detail.
Namor, now a boy, returns to the face of the earth with the others to bury his mother in the land she was born in, only to find it settled by Spanish colonists, who enslaved the natives of the region. In a fit of rage, the boy and Talokanil ravaged the colony, killing everyone and reinforcing his hatred for the surface world. He takes his name from the anguish of the colonists he kills: In Wakanda foreverNamor is a portmanteau of the Spanish phrase sinful loveor “without love” — a name that terrifies his enemies.
In it, Namor became a metaphor for the Latino community, a vast mosaic of people and cultures united by colonial plunder and the obliteration of nations. native. He embodies an indigenous roots almost snuffed out from the world, a quiet yet powerful rage that is one of the few things in common for a distinct and diverse ethnic group. His anger comes from the flesh and blood of the Earth and the fragmented cultural memory of Latin America. Unlike Killmonger before him, he is an extreme response to the fundamental crimes that make today’s prosperity – and injustice – possible.
In the comics, Namor has a catchphrase. It’s the classic comic stuff, the thing he screams when he walks in impressively or throws a punch so loud that it breaks the boundaries of a page. “Rex Empire!” he bellows, a phrase that roughly translates to “emperor,” a meaningless shout of his own title, like a producer about to skip a beat on a hip-hop track. Read enough comics and you’ll be delighted whenever it’s used.
Wakanda forever not the genre of film in which that quote is meant, but it finds a moment at the end of the film, when Namor is defeated in battle and falls before making a choice about how his fight will go. he will finish.
He doesn’t say it in Latin, but in his people’s Yucatán Maya, a language director Ryan Coogler notes, there are no such words. Literally translated, the phrase is a bit different: “eternal king”.
“He was made king before he was even born; it’s something he doesn’t have a choice in, it’s destiny,” Coogler said. “He will live a very long life. And it’s his job to make sure he sees that the Talokan are so prosperous that they never have to worry about anything else.”
It is a beautiful dream for a world that no longer exists, a perfect omission for a man who will always be king. It was the dream of both K’uk’ulkan and Namor, the god of his people and the man without love. That’s exactly what you say when your people have been forgotten by the world, and you’re ready to flood every last acre to bring back their memories.