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Namor, Played By Tenoch Huerta In “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Says Why The Movie Got It Right

This weekend, Black Panther fans all over the country will go to the movies to see the long-awaited sequel and tribute to the iconic African superhero played by the late Chadwick Boseman.

But for many Latinos who want to see their own superhero epics on the big screen, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is a turning point because it stars Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta, who is now ready to break into mainstream pop culture.

Huerta, who is of Indigenous descent, plays the mutant leader of a Mayan and Aztec-influenced kingdom that has been living under the ocean for hundreds of years.

Huerta, who is known for his roles in “Narcos: Mexico” on Netflix and “The Forever Purge,” told NBC News that the new movie is a big step toward more diversity in Latino culture.

“We don’t have enough people in power in Latin America, especially in Mexico,” he said. He said that Mexican TV looks “like a Scandinavian country,” and that “all the people” on TV and in ads seen on the street are white.

When a company like Marvel Studios and its parent company, Disney, tell a diverse superhero story that focuses mostly on Black and Indigenous characters from East Africa and Mesoamerica, which stretches from modern-day south-central Mexico to Costa Rica, it shows “the rest of the world that representation matters,” Huerta said.

Namor is one of Marvel’s oldest characters, and Huerta plays him on screen. Namor is a mutant with pointed ears, wings on his ankles, and superhuman strength that can match the strength of other Marvel characters like Thor.

“I think they did a great job when they decided to give Namor this new background, which is Mesoamerican culture, especially Mayan culture,” Huerta said. “Because, on the one hand, it’s the right time to do it and, on the other, it’s important for a lot of people, especially kids.

It’s a way to say, “Eh, nothing’s wrong with you.” You should be happy with yourself. And the melanin in your skin is fine and pretty.'”

Some fans may be able to relate to Namor’s struggles as an outsider caught between the human world on the surface and Talokan, the underwater kingdom that his people built. The Aztec paradise Tllcn, which is ruled by the rain god Tllc, has an effect on Talokan.

On the surface, Talokan is a lot like Wakanda’s mirror image. Both are strong kingdoms that have done well in the shadows. Both are the only places on Earth where vibranium, a made-up metal that can absorb, store, and release kinetic energy, is known to come from. Both of them are very aware of the ways that people of different races have been treated unfairly in the outside world.

But while Wakanda was never colonized, Talokan was made by Indigenous people who escaped the horrors of Spanish colonization in Yucatán, Mexico, and needed a safe place to live.

In 2018, the first Black Panther movie was a big hit that broke new ground. It was mostly about black characters and showed that mainstream audiences wanted to see more diversity in movies. Huerta said, “From a business point of view, it works as well.”

“Black Panther” made almost $1.35 billion worldwide, and just over $700 million, or 52%, of that was in the U.S. This is almost half of what the highest-grossing superhero movie, “Avengers: Endgame,” made at the box office (nearly $2.8 billion worldwide).

“Black Panther” just beat out mainstream classics like “Star Wars: Episode VIII—The Last Jedi” (just over $1.33 billion), “Frozen” (almost $1.31 billion), and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (just under $1.15 billion).

In “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Wakanda and Talokan are at odds with each other because the rest of the world wants to use their vibranium reserves.

But Huerta hopes that the proud stories of “brown and Black” people will make people want to work together. “Right now, more than ever, we need to see ourselves in each other and accept each other,” he said. “You know, just keep going.”

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