The upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has reportedly found its Namor, as a new rumor from the Illuminerdi suggests that Narcos: Mexico star Tenoch Huerta Mejia is set to take up the role of the Atlantean Prince in the upcoming entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Illuminerdi reached this conclusion after looking at two pieces of relatively recent Wakanda Forever related news.
The first was an exclusive put out by FandomWire in January revealing that a war between Wakanda and Atlantis would be the focus of the Black Panther sequel, while the second was a November 2020 report from the The Hollywood Reporter which noted that Huerta had been in talks to play one of the film’s antagonists.
Note that though The Illuminerdi is treating the rumor that Huerta has been cast as Namor as an exclusive, the news outlet drew this conclusion simply by putting together the previous pieces of news.
While the veracity of the rumor is currently unconfirmed, at some point, the website felt they had enough information to make the claim.
However, until there is confirmation from an industry website, we will treat the information as rumor.
Aside from his major role portraying real-world drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero on Narcos: Mexico, Huerta has starred in a number of Mexican television shows and films, with his most recent being Fuego Negro (a.k.a. Dark Forces).
He’s also held a number of smaller roles in various English-language titles, including as an unnamed lift passenger in the 2015 James Bond film Spectre and as Juan in the upcoming Purge sequel Forever Purge, set to release in July of this year.
While Namor’s appearance has yet to be officially confirmed, many fans believe that the character’s alleged appearance in the upcoming Black Panther film was already teased during the events of Avengers: Endgame.
In the film, during Black Widow’s meeting with the world’s de facto ‘security council’, the Wakandan general Okoye mentions that an underwater earthquake recently shook the earth just off the coast of Africa.
Though Okoye brushes off the event as nothing more than just a natural occurrence, that one line was all fans needed to start speculating that Marvel’s First Mutant would soon be headed to the silver screen.
At current, only a few names pop up as far as Mexican representation in the MCU is concerned.
Salma Hayek, who will play a gender-swapped Ajak in the upcoming Eternals film, was born in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico. Though he was born in Chicago, Illinois, Ant-Man show stealer Michael Peña’s parents are originally from Mexico.
But as I’ve personally stated on social media in various posts, in previous phases of the MCU, the race of the person playing the character was not a factor in relating a character to the audience.
At least from my perspective, the writing was always key to the audience jiving with a character, leaving readers to find admirable traits or qualities within the characters they could personally identify with.
Nothing like skin color or culture factored into that relatability because, at the end of the day, the issues we share are human – to the point where, even in a well-written alien, we could find commonality in their stories.
However, it looks like, for the foreseeable future, the MCU will continue casting along these shallow lines, as it’s not so much about actors who might look the part, but rather changing the fundamentals of a given character to make a statement about diversity in casting.
Casting For The Role vs Diversity
Huerta is just a tip of the iceberg. I’m not even even touching on the larger issues that could arise from Namor’s introduction.
I’m sure other articles will speculate about whether or not Namor would be considered a mutant in the MCU, as well as on how Disney will tackle the the issue of incorporating Chadwick Boseman’s untimely passing into the film.
But for now, I want to just focus on the rumored decision to cast Huerta, as the implications of this choice will also extend to the roles of both Namora and the Atlantean warlord Attuma.
Marvel casting over the last 10 or so years has one name. Sarah Halley Finn.
Her name stretches all the way back to the beginning, before Disney bought up the franchise.
In 2008, though Jon Favreau had a wish list of actors he wanted to play Iron Man/Tony Stark which included Robert Downey Jr., it was Finn who got the ball rolling to get him in the film.
She also cast the former Human Torch from Fox’s Fantastic Four films, Chris Evans, to be the timeless hero Captain America, and also picked up stars Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, and Tom Huddleston for the MCU.
And that’s only a small sampling of the talent she brought on board over the past 10 years.
She’s also contributed to the casting decisions for a number of major, non-MCU films, including Kick-Ass, The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, Godzilla Vs. Kong, and Deadly Class. So it’s not just Marvel and Disney who are utilizing her for casting roles in their films.
Taking into consideration Marvel’s casting decision for The Eternals, we can probably guess the direction Finn will take for filling roles in future MCU films.
The Eternals’ roster is a mishmash of gender-swapped, race-swapped and sexuality swapped versions of their comic book counter parts.
For example, in the film, Phastos is both black and gay. Ajak is not a male. Makkari is not a white male. Sprite is not a male either.
We have a number of questions about why they would change so much of the source material, but it’s as Kevin Feige stated in a recent interview: he wanted normalize diversity.
“I think it is extremely well done,” said Feige of The Eternals’ alleged LGBT+ romance to The Hollywood, “and I look forward to that level of inclusion in our future movies being less of a topic.”
Ditching Source Material
That’s the future not just the MCU, but Hollywood in general.
Film casting won’t be done according to the source material, but according to the current standards of ‘proper representation’ for any given marginalized group, simply because some folks need to see themselves on screen.
Steudios will continue to push push the diversity of a film’s the characters as a selling point rather than highlight its writing, though if they do, even Marvel could run the risk of seeing a significant financial setback, much like what Birds of Prey, Terminator Dark Fate, and Elizabeth Banks’ recent iteration of Charlie’s Angels suffered.
So for the MCU, when it comes to casting, Huerta as Namor certainly wouldn’t be the beginning of the cycle. And as he certainly won’t be the end of it, is poses the question: if the source material is so easily discarded when it comes to casting, what’s to stop them from abandoning critical elements of iconic stories?
We’ve already seen problematic statements from Jac Shaeffer denigrating source material from the comics. She’s even admitted in a later interview that she has difficulty reading the comics – something that many might consider to be an important factor in determining who should be chosen for showrunning WandaVision and directing/writing Black Widow.
What do you think of this rumored casting decision? Sound off in the comments below or let’s talk about it on social media!