On November 11, the MCU is set to expand once more with the debut of Namor the Sub-Mariner and his underwater world of Talocan in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Played by Tenoch Huerta, Marvel Studios' take on Namor is different from that of the comics - and DC's Aquaman - in that he's not the ruler of Atlantis. Instead, the live-action version of the Sub-Mariner rules the kingdom of Talocan which was inspired by Mayan culture and created exclusively for Black Panther 2.
While the underwater kingdom of Talocan was a departure from the comics, Wakanda Forever stayed true to certain unique elements of its leader in bringing him from page to screen – despite their ridiculous origins.
Tenoch Huerta's 'Weird' Namor
In talking with Entertainment Weekly about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever's new trailer, director Ryan Coogler acknowledged that Tenoch Huerta's Namor leans heavily on the character's wacky comic book design made up of elements "that don’t necessarily go together."
The director defended the decision though, saying that "you've got to lean into the weird stuff, or you risk missing what makes it fun:"
“I think with making these types of movies, you’ve got to lean into the weird stuff, or you risk missing what makes it fun. He’s got really unique features and things that don’t necessarily go together. He can breathe underwater, obviously, but he’s got these little wings on his ankles. He’s got pointy ears and walks around in his underwear. It’s all fun, man.”
Audiences got their first look at Namor's design, complete with his ankle wings, in the first trailer for Black Panther 2.
But the latest trailer offered an even better look at Namor putting those ankle wings to use.
The footage also showed more of Huerta's anti-hero in action, along with new looks at his kingdom of Talocan.
While it's hard to deny that many of Namor's traits are quite out-there on paper, the new footage showed that Coogler and co. somehow managed to make those eccentric elements work.
According to Coogler, Talocan is similar to Wakanda in that both have a long history and are like El Dorado, societies that are hidden in plain sight.
However, designing yet another advanced society to life that reflects and represent real-world cultures and traditions is no small feat.
To do so, Wakanda Forever brought back members of the original Black Panther crew, including Oscar Award-winning production designer Hannah Beachler and costume designer Ruth E. Carter.
But new talent was brought on board as well, including Loki cinematographer Autumn Durald to provide the sequel with a new visual style that includes a switch from spherical lenses to anamorphic.
The reason for this, Coogler explained, is that “Sometimes when you go through profound loss, it can warp how you look at the world:
"I think this film has the fog of loss over it, and anamorphic lenses warp the image a little bit. Sometimes when you go through profound loss, it can warp how you look at the world.”
But even though Talocan and Namor was a whole new undertaking for the director, Coogler is no stranger to the character and the comic book world:
“I would read them all the time before I became a full-time jock when I was younger and was just playing sports all the time. Even when I was doing that, I was still engaging in pop culture, watching Batman: The Animated Series or Power Rangers or the Batman movies. But I wasn’t knee-deep in it, reading every book. Then, when I got to college, I found myself with a little more time to reengage with it again.”
Why Comic Book "Fun" is Necessary for Black Panther 2
When it comes to Marvel Comics, Marvel Studios has always been in favor of adaptation as opposed to imitation.
However, Talocan isn't just an instance of creative license: it's a brand-new original idea.
But despite the liberties Black Panther 2 is taking with Tenoch Huerta's Sub-Mariner and his world, Coogler's comments show that he and the studio haven't completely abandoned the on-page concept of Namor.
If anything, keeping his somewhat "weird" design is an attempt at balancing both in tone and in comic book accuracy.
As Coogler said, Namor's ankle wings and pointed ears is "all fun," and given the heavy, real-life themes of Wakanda Forever and the franchise's legacy, some of that "fun" and comic book levity is necessary.
In addition, it was also great to hear who from the Black Panther crew returned, and the reasons behind Coogler bringing in a new member of the team.
It sounds as if the film's balancing act extends to how Coogler wants Wakanda Forever to connect to the original film while also being its own continuing story.
Fans are sure to see and hear more about this powerful sequel in the weeks leading up to the film's release.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever arrives in theaters on November 11.