Namor is a responsibility that Tenoch Huerta doesn’t take lightly in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
When Remezcla had a chance to interview Huerta about stepping into Namor’s shoes and becoming the feather serpent god himself, it was clear that he knew that his character would be part of a cultural shift from the very first trailer he appeared in. And he welcomed that responsibility, especially for what it was going to do for those who had never seen themselves in the MCU, specifically the youngest in our communities.
“When you think that this could inspire some kids from Latin America, or from the Latin American community in the States, it’s overwhelming in the best way possible,” Huerta explained, aware that there aren’t many superheroes who look like us, know our stories, or are part of our communities. And that void has left us looking to other superheroes for validation while feeling like we could never truly be like those superheroes.
Namor is helping to change that mindset.
That’s why Huerta was always thinking about the kids that were going to watch Wakanda Forever while he was filming. Because he wasn’t afforded these opportunities to see himself in the content he watched growing up. Now he’s going to be that for someone else. “I hope these kids eventually, they are able to look at themselves in the mirror and see themselves and say, “I’m proud of who I am.”
Not seeing ourselves in the content we consume also leads to a lot of shame and doubt. That’s what happens when you exclude communities from the narrative and make them feel like the other. They don’t think they can reach the stars, that who they are is worth telling stories about, and that they should continue to carry their ancestors with them as the world continues to change.
Huerta wants Namor to be a symbol of pride and a lesson to not be ashamed of who we are as a people. “We were taught for many years, 500 years, to be ashamed of who we are, to be ashamed of our ancestors, our grandparents. So I think this kind of representation helps to show them that there isn’t anything wrong with them.” And Huerta hopes that our people come to understand that when they see him and the people of Talokan on screen.
Our very own Namor is also keenly aware of how his character has already changed the lives of many, even before Wakanda Forever premiered.
During a recent interview with Escorpión Dorado (Golden Scorpion), Huerta was taken to see a mural painted by Tomer Linaje that depicted him wearing the same feathered earpiece that he wore onstage at the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con, along with the Mesoamerican serpent god known as Quetzalcóatl, a Mexican hairless dog known as a Xoloitzcuintli, a jaguar, and a hummingbird.
When Remezcla asked him about the moment that left him absolutely speechless, he was honest about how unexpected it was and how honored he felt that Linaje would take the time to create such a piece. “You never imagine your face on a wall in the middle of the city because a guy thinks that you are great enough to make a portrait of your face.” And for Huerta, he isn’t sure if he deserves all the effort and hours spent on this mural. But he’s going to “fight every day to deserve it.”
Joining the MCU and the Marvel collective is also an opportunity for Huerta to geek out a little bit. Because like most of us, he’s been there since the Iron Man days when the MCU was only a dream to many. And now that he’s arrived as Namor, there’s an opportunity to branch out and meet other superheroes or fight them.
When Remezcla asked him this very question, Huerta immediately knew the answer: Iron Man and Black Widow. That’s a little hard because both were lost in the battle against Thanos. But even then, Huerta wouldn’t mind an opportunity for Namor to meet them. And he’s not even talking about fighting them. “I don’t know if I wanna fight with them. Well, yeah, maybe drink a beer. I don’t know, a barbecue. Eat some tacos.”
He just wants Namor to have a good time. And honestly, same.
We couldn’t let Huerta go without asking him one final question; a question that has been living in this interviewer’s head for ages. Because we’ve all seen the Namor wordplay where fans go, “Namor? More like “Mi amor.” This interviewer even admits to using it in day-to-day conversation. And we had to know if he’d seen or heard the play on his character’s name. Huerta’s laugh was all the confirmation we needed. He knows. And he loves it.
As Spanish speakers, we’re used to taking words in our language and playing around with them, and “when the people embrace the world, when they embrace the characters, it’s now a cultural thing and it’s just wonderful.” That’s why he finds it so amazing that people are playing around with Namor’s name like this. And he hopes we keep embracing Namor, Talokan, and the wave of change that is coming for our communities.
Don’t worry, Tenoch Huerta. We’re ready. And we’ll be cheering you on as the world comes to know your name.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now in theaters.