Black Panther 2’s Important Indigenous Representation Explained

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever star Tenoch Huerta has explained the importance behind the Marvel film’s representation of Indigenous cultures. Marking the final film in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Wakanda Forever is currently set to premiere on November 11. Following on from the critically acclaimed 2018 outing, the Black Panther sequel will show the fictional nation of Wakanda mourning the loss of their king, T’Challa, previously played by the late Chadwick Boseman. In the wake of their monarch’s death, the people of Wakanda are forced to fight to protect their country from invading forces and the threat posed by the undersea nation of Talokan.

Wakanda Forever marks the cinematic debut of one of Marvel’s oldest comic characters, Namor the Sub-Mariner (played by Huerta). Having been a part of the Marvel roster since the comic giant was called Timely Comics, Namor was once one of Timely’s most important characters alongside Captain America and the original Human Torch. In adapting the Namor for his MCU debut in Black Panther 2, director Ryan Coogler and his creative team changed his comic book home of Atlantis for a kingdom taken from Aztec and Mesoamerican mythology. In preparing himself for the role, Mexican actor Heurta also reportedly taught himself Mayan language.

Ahead of Wakanda Forever’s forthcoming release, Screen Rant attended a press event where Huerta praised Coogler and his team for providing Namor with his Mesoamerican background. Calling the decision “a fantastic move”, the Namor actor suggested that “now is the perfect moment” to talk about and celebrate Indigenous cultural roots in Latin America. Check out his full comments below:

« I think when Ryan and the team decided to provide Namor with this background, it was a fantastic move. I think now is the perfect moment to speak about it. In Latin America, especially Mexico, we deny our indigenous roots. It’s just like a token sometimes, but in general terms, we deny it. It’s not about genes for us—because almost everybody in Mexico has indigenous or African roots—it’s about culture. Culturally, we are apart from our Indigenous roots. So, [let’s] embrace those roots and honor those two main sources in Latin America, which is African and Indigenous roots.

« I hope this helps people to embrace who we are. Everybody, look in the mirror and say what is in the mirror is okay. They taught us to be ashamed of who we are, but it’s time to cut it off and say, « Yeah, this is who I am, and I never had [anything] wrong with me. » The mistake was in the eyes who were looking at us; who were judging us. And most of the time it was ourselves. So, it’s time to change the glasses and [reconcile] who we are with our ancestors and embrace them. And now it’s happening in a movie like this, Black Panther with Ryan Coogler. I think it’s the best [portrayal] and the best frame to talk about it. And that is exciting. »

How Black Panther Keeps Raising The Bar On MCU Diversity

Even prior to the MCU’s first Black Panther film, T’Challa and the fictional world of Wakanda played in important role in promoting diversity and representation. Created in the mid-1960s by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Black Panther was the very first superhero of African descent to appear in mainstream comics. When the time finally came to provide the character with his own blockbuster film, the first Black Panther outing served as the very first Marvel Studios film with a black director and a predominantly black cast. The cultural significance of the film, coupled with its undisputed quality, was a major step forward for the promotion of black voices in mainstream cinema.

Thanks to the success of the first film, Marvel Studios was emboldened to pursue more diverse projects helmed by a wider range of creative voices. Without the groundwork laid by Coogler and his team, other MCU entries such as Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Ms. Marvel likely would have never manifested in the way they did. Now Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has the opportunity to bring Indigenous Latin American voices to the fore in the same way the franchise has already done for African voices.