Marvel Is Changing A Major Part Of Namor’s Story For Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
That's a huge change.
Things change from source material to film; that’s nothing new. It’s not new for superhero movies, for Marvel, or even for film adaptations in general. However, a press release that made the rounds yesterday revealed a fairly huge change to the backstory of Namor (Tenoch Huerta) for the upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Marvel Comics’ monarch of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis will no longer be from the underwater kingdom of Atlantis. Instead, he will be the ruler of a kingdom called Talocan.
As Comic Book reports, the change came to light because of a press release from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever composer Ludwig Goransson for the movie’s Prologue Album. In the release, Goransson writes, “Using Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole’s script as a blueprint, along with the recordings from the traditional musicians, we began to build a musical vocabulary for the characters, storylines, and cultures of Talocan and Wakanda.”
Could Goransson be talking about a different kingdom? Nope. Screen Rant reports that Goransson’s press release isn’t the only source confirming that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever changes Namor’s home of Atlantis to Talocan. They point to Hasbro’s new Namor action figure, whose description calls Tenoch Huerta’s character, “The ruler of Talocan, an ancient civilization hidden in the depths of the ocean, Namor will stop at nothing to protect his people.” As the site notes, the name Talocan is derived from the Aztec word “Tlālōcān,” a kind of mythic paradise.
Why was the name changed from Atlantis to Talocan? Well, likely the first and most obvious reason is that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is pulling from Aztec and Mayan influences in their designs of the Atlanteans. A name derived from Aztec mythology fits a lot more than “Atlantis.”
The other reason is kind of the massive aquatic elephant in the room. The Namor of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will not be the first super-powered half-human/half-underwater-species member of royalty to show up in a superhero movie. While his first screen appearance in 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was just a cameo and 2017’s Justice League had more things wrong with it than we care to recall here, 2018’s Aquaman was one of the DCEU’s few unquestionable success stories, with Jason Momoa set to reprise the role next year in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. His hero is, like Namor, the product of a mixed birth. He’s royalty. He has super powers. He has a less than super-friendly relationship with the “surface world.” The makers of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever can’t change any of those similarities, but they can at least change the name of Namor’s hometown, so it’s tough to blame them.
The irony is that while Aquaman became more more well known outside comic book fandom much earlier than Namor — thanks mainly to the 1970s animated series Superfriends — if either one of them is a copycat, it isn’t Namor. Aquaman debuted in 1941’s More Fun Comics #73, and Namor beat that premiere by two years. His first appearance was in 1939’s Marvel Comics #1.