Exclusive: Namora actress Mabel Cadena talks about working with Tenoch Huerta to infuse their Mexican culture into their Black Panther 2 roles.
Mabel Cadena breaks down why it was important for her and Tenoch Huerta to infuse their performances as Namora and Namor in Black Panther 2 with aspects of Mexican culture. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever introduces Namor's hidden underwater kingdom into the MCU. In Marvel Comics, Namor's kingdom is the well-known Roman-Greco-inspired Atlantis, but Black Panther: Wakanda Forever changed the origins of Namor and his people, who now make their home Talokan.
This change not only differentiates the MCU's underwater nation from Aquaman's Atlantis, but it also creates the perfect foil for Wakanda. The nations have vastly different histories with colonization, which informs their very way of life, including why each decided to isolate itself from the rest of the world. During Screen Rant's exclusive interview with Cadena, she talks about working with Huerta to bring elements of their culture into their performances. She breaks down how this was an important part of creating a base for each of these characters that they could build from.
"When we began the movie, I spoke with Tenoch. "Hey, you are Mexican, and I'm Mexican. What little things [do] we need to put in this story about our culture?" The Mexican people are very warm, so we are family. Attuma is the best warrior; Namora is like a princess and a right hand to Namor. I'm trusting you, and you’re trusting me, and I can give you the words that [no one else] in the nation can say to you.
We need to start with this relationship since our culture is Mexican people. How are Mexican people? And then Attuma and Namora, how is our relationship? How [are we as] symbols, as warriors, as fighters? It was really fun for us."
Related: Does Namor's Talokan Exist In Marvel Comics?
Cadena's insight into crafting the character of Namora around her own culture and the relationship between Namor and Namora infuses the characters with depth and authenticity. Cadena and Huerta incorporate their Mexican culture into the very foundation of these characters. This decision establishes not only Namor and Namora but the whole of Talokan.
Ryan Coogler was inspired by indigenous Central and South American civilizations when crafting the MCU’s Talokan. This was kept in mind for every aspect of creating Talokan, including composer Ludwig Göransson's work with music archeologists to compose Mayan-inspired themes for Namor and Talokan. Namor sets the tone for the rest of Talokan as their leader, as do his relationships with Namora and Attuma. Framing these characters as seeing their people as family sheds light on why Namor, Namora, and Attuma are committed to protecting them at any cost. Although Namora and Namor are antagonists in Black Panther 2, this foundation of authenticity brings an understandability and emotional depth to the characters that make them feel more real.
The decision that Cadena and Huerta made to bring their truths to the roles elevates the characters and makes their world feel more genuinely alive. Indigenous American cultures are at the heart of Talokan's creation, but the actors that inhabit the Talokanian people bring a whole new depth and realness to the underwater nation. The MCU is telling more diverse stories with Black Panther, Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, and now Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Exploring different cultures and crafting complex characters both as protagonists and antagonists makes the MCU stories richer and truer to the world.
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