After Chris Hemsworth's Thor: Love and Thunder, the world will finally return to Wakanda thanks to the upcoming Black Panther sequel. The long-awaited project has gone through plenty of changes since its original conception, but at the very least, one thing has almost certainly remained the same: Atlantis.
While nothing has been confirmed by Marvel Studios themselves, rumors have strongly suggested the main villain will be Namor, the leader of the iconic underwater city. The character was always a top popular pick from fans for who the next villain in the franchise should be, so it wasn’t a surprise when those whispers started coming out.
As for who might be playing the famous anti-hero, it would seem Tenoch Huerta will have that honor. The actor has recently been seen in projects such as The Forever Purge and Narcos: Mexico.
In a new interview, the actor discussed some struggles he has faced in recent work, while also revealing a curious fact: he learned Mayan for an upcoming role.
Facing Racism and Learning a New Language
In an interview with Vice, actor Tenoch Huerta confirmed that he has been learning a Mayan language for the role and spent months in Atlanta, GA filming the project in which he’ll use the knowledge.
The role in question is for the MCU's Namor, an anti-hero who is set to appear as the main villain in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The actor was unable to confirm the specifics of the project in question, something Marvel Studios themselves have also remained silent on.
As big of a deal as joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe is, it hasn’t been an easy journey. The actor revealed that while Hollywood’s acceptance of diversity may seem slow, those same discussions have only just begun in Mexico—assuming they’re happening at all.
According to Huerta, to get where he is now, he “had to erase [his] linguistic identity to fit in:”
“I had to erase my linguistic identity to fit in the new world that I now (live)… If they don’t perceive you as part of them, they don’t accept you.”
Of course, another big problem in the industry that often directly correlates with racism is the habit of only casing certain ethnicities into stereotypes.
Despite that, Huerta confirmed how he “always make[s] a different version” of his character, even if it’s under the same stereotype:
“They need thieves, they need kidnappers, they need whores. So they call the brown-skinned people to make them. And we fit under that stereotype... they are always calling me to make the same character. It’s the bad guy—always. But I always make a different version. Because for me, it’s a person. I create a new personality, a new character each time.”
The actor noted that he “was lucky because at the time [he] was ready [for acting], the world was ready for Latin actors:"
“I said, ‘yeah, I am ready now.’ Finally I am ready. It was lucky because at the same time I was ready, the world was ready for Latin actors… especially for actors like me. Because most of the Mexican actors who are in the U.S. are white, they are upper-class, they are fresas [Mexican slang for posh or bougie].”
One of the biggest Latino casting in recent years was Diego Luna in Star Wars: Rogue One. Not only did the actor keep his accent, but there was no particular reason why Cassian Andor was Mexican—he just was.
A 2019 study by the College of Mexico showed that perceptions of someone’s race are majorly influenced by class. Even third-party observers would end up perceiving people as whiter if those being observed were thought to be high-educated.
Alice Krozer, who researches socioeconomic inequality at the College of Mexico, added that “classism and racism are so intertwined, it’s difficult to say which one is predominant.”
Krozer also provided additional context of how Mexico has been shaped by the idea that all Mexicans are a big race of mixed Spanish and Indigenous blood—which emphasizes racial blending and diversity. So while those intentions may be good, many feel them to be insincere “because it also has helped foster a blindness toward the existence of racism.”
Huerta has even co-founded a group aimed at raising awareness about racism. The actor is determined to point a spotlight on the issue as he continues to make his mark in Hollywood:
“I don’t want to win this game. I don’t want to be a champion of this game. I want to destroy the fucking game.”
Determination of a New MCU Villain
It’s great to see that the man potentially bringing Namor to life put so much effort into the role. It shows his commitment to the character and desire to make him as authentic as possible.
As for the racism Huerta experiences in Mexico, it’s always sad to be reminded of how rampant the toxic mindset is. Many are under the assumption that the United States is the only place which deals with those issues, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Hopefully, the actor’s rumored role as Namor will help Huerta break through any barriers he is experiencing in his career while also putting him in a better place for his messages to be heard. After all, Huerta is more than likely going to have a long future in the MCU and will no doubt become known worldwide.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters on November 11.