In the MCU, we now have a new world power to contend with, the underwater nation of Talokan. In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, we learn that Talokan is essentially the replacement for the Kingdom of Atlantis from the Marvel comics universe. Both cultures are hidden underwater cities with water-breathing populations. However, there are some significant differences. Chiefly, instead of in the Atlantic (or the arctic), the MCU’s Talokan is located in Yucatan area. But in both cases, their sovereign ruler is the man called Namor, who is both noble and unforgiving. Here’s what Wakanda Forever taught us about the powerful nation of Talokan.
Talokan Replaces Marvel Comics’ Atlantis in the MCU
Wakanda Forever‘s kingdom of Talokan does not exist in Marvel Comics. Instead, Marvel’s Atlantis is a small continent with a highly advanced civilization. The cosmic beings known as the Celestials caused a cataclysm thousands of years ago, one which resulted in its sinking into the oceans. For centuries, the remnants of that culture lay in ruins on the ocean floor. Later, a water-breathing offshoot of humanity called Homo mermanus, possibly created by the Celestials themselves, migrated to the remains of Atlantis. They created a new culture there, one which eventually gave birth to Prince Namor. However, although the MCU has no Atlantis per se, the underwater civilization of Talokan takes its place in Wakanda Forever and has many similarities to Atlantis. Including a water-breathing race. But there are also just as many differences.
The History of Wakanda Forever‘s Kingdom of Talokan
The name of Marvel’s new underwater kingdom of Talokan is based on Mexican mythology. Specifically, Talokan is inspired by Tlālōcān, a city ruled by the rain god Tlāloc. In ancient Aztec culture, the city was an afterlife destination for anyone who perished by drowning or by lightning. In the MCU, Talokan has become the replacement for Atlantis as their underwater civilization. Namor, the Sub-Mariner, rules this hidden kingdom. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever suggests that Talokan came into existence after a fragment of the meteor that gave Wakanda vibranium, or another similar meteor, landed in the part of the world where Mesoamerican culture flourished. This ties rival nations Wakanda and Talokan together in a way the comics never did with Wakanda and Atlantis.
While speaking with Princess Shuri in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Namor tells her his MCU origin story, as well as the origin story of Marvel’s Talokan. Some 500 years prior, his mother was a member of a tribe in the Yucatan area of what is now Mexico. This tribe was terrorized by Spanish colonists and tried to escape from them. Each member of the tribe drank a special herb from a glowing plant that looked just like the ones we know from Wakanda. This plant gave them the power to breathe underwater, but they could no longer survive on the surface. Centuries later, with breathing apparatus, they could emerge from the depths. But their skin would turn blue on contact with air. Only Namor was different from the rest of his tribe.
Namor, the MCU’s First Mutant
Namor’s mother was pregnant when she ingested the herb. And in Wakanda Forever, we see how he became the first child born underwater in Talokan. But possibly due to his being just a fetus, when the herb entered his body, he came out a bit different. A mutant. Namor could survive underwater as well as on the surface without assistance and could fly due to the tiny wings on his feet. He also had super strength and durability. All part of his mutation, a mutation no doubt connected to the herb.
Under Namor’s rule, the people of Talokan have harnessed the power of the oceans, and in some cases, sea life itself, to their advantage. In the finale of the film, we see them ride whales into battle. They are fierce warriors, although who they have actually fought against is a mystery. They seem almost totally isolated, even more than the Wakandans. Talokan also carries over the languages and myths of Mesoamerican cultures they sprang from, like the Mayans and Aztecs. Namor himself has the name Ku’ku’lkán, the feathered serpent god, a real Mayan deity. We also see the people of Talokan have a special gesture and phrase they perform to honor Talokan and one another. Their mantra of “Líik’ik Talokan” or “Rise Talokan” and the accompanying hand motions appear based on Mesoamerican codices.
At the end of Wakanda Forever, Talokan still has designs on conquering the surface world. It remains an open question as to whether they stay adversaries to humanity or eventually become its allies.
Originally published on November 11, 2022.