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), Talokan is located in Yucatan area. But in both cases, their sovereign ruler is the man called Namor, who is both noble and unforgiving.
Talokan Replaces Atlantis
In the comics, Atlantis was 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 what was left 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 Talokan is based on Mexican mythology. Specifically, it’s 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, it has become the replacement for Atlantis as their underwater civilization. A hidden kingdom ruled by Namor, the Sub-Mariner. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever suggests that 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, who was his prisoner, Namor tells her his origin story, as well as the origin story of 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 so he became the first child born underwater. But possibly due to his being just a fetus when the herb entered his body, he came out a bit different. A mutant. He 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. At the end of the film, 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.