Warning: the following article contains spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Namor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has made a prominent mark in the MCU already, introducing fans to the world of Talokan and its Mayan and Mesoamerican-inspired culture. The first Black Panther movie presented the Wakanda Forever pose to the world in which both arms are crossed over one’s chest. Namor (Tenoch Huerta) and his people are given their own seashell pose in Wakanda Forever and it’s backed by a fascinating history.
The undersea kingdom of Talokan was created after indigenous Mesoamerican people consumed a concoction that contained a plant imbued with Vibranium, which gave them blue skin and aquatic abilities. Namor was in his mother’s womb at the time, and when he was born, his skin retained its natural color; he could breathe on land and in the sea and had mutant and Atlantean abilities. The Talokans built their society and were able to retain their traditions and customs. One of those is the ancient pose.
The Talokan hand gesture is called the Líik’ik Talokan, which means “Rise Talokan” in English, and they use it to greet each other and to show respect. They hold it out toward Namor like an opened seashell and it signifies his exalted station as K’ukul’kan, their Feathered Serpent God. Its origins come from various places throughout Mesoamerica and it’s based on Mesoamerican codices, including the codex Nuttall codex and the Vienna codex from Aztec culture.
These images depict the pose along with other indigenous traditions and practices, and although the true meaning isn’t known, it’s believed to be a sign of power. It was often the gods and kings doing the pose and this idea of power fits perfectly into Namor’s storyline in Wakanda Forever because of his association with K’ukul’kan. Namor wants nothing more than to protect Talokan and its people, and his power levels are off the charts, especially in water. He believes that he can maintain his power through his use of force and taking all this into account, the gesture flows perfectly with what the movie was going for.
It’s interesting to note that it was conceptualized by Wakanda Forever‘s Latino cast. Alex Livanni, who plays the Talokan warrior Attuma, Huerta, and Namora actress Mabel Cadena all confirmed that it wasn’t in the original script, and Livanni shared how the idea came to be in an interview with Cinema Blend. “The [Wakandans] have ‘Wakanda Forever’ and it’s so powerful and means so much,” Livanni said. “We’re very similar to the Wakandans. We need something. So, after a conversation with a language instructor, we came up with ‘Rise Talokan’…which is our mantra.”
Incorporating the Líik’ik hand gesture was yet another detail that made Wakanda Forever special for so many people. It gives a culture that’s been hidden away and attacked a platform and teaches historical lessons in the context of a superhero film. What makes this even better is that the Talokans are destined to rise again in the MCU.