Black Panther 2 Star Tenoch Huerta has learned the Mayan language to play Namor the Submariner

The world will finally get back to Wakanda courtesy of the Black Panther: Wakana Forever, which follows Chris Hemsworth’s Thor: Love and Thunder. The long-awaited project has lived through a number of modifications since it was first conceived, but one thing has almost surely kept the same: Atlantis.

While nothing has been announced by Marvel Studios, rumors have it that the major villain will be Namor, the legendary underwater city’s ruler. Fans have always voted for the character to be the next villain in the franchise, so it wasn’t surprising when the rumors began.

Tenoch Huerta appears to be the leading candidate for the role of the infamous anti-hero. The Forever Purge and Narcos: Mexico are two recent projects in which the actor has appeared. In a new interview, the actor talked about some of the challenges he’s had recently, as well as a unique fact: he learned Mayan for a forthcoming role.

Defending Oneself Against Racism and Mastering a New Language

In an interview, actor Tenoch Huerta confirmed that he has been learning the Mayan language for the role and spent months in Atlanta, GA filming the project in which he’ll use the knowledge. The role in question is for the MCU’s Namor, an anti-hero who is set to appear as the main villain in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The actor was unable to confirm the specifics of the project in question, something Marvel Studios themselves have also remained silent on.

As big of a deal as joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe is, it hasn’t been an easy journey. The actor revealed that while Hollywood’s acceptance of diversity may seem slow, those same discussions have only just begun in Mexico—assuming they’re happening at all. Actor Tenoch Huerta said in an interview that he has been studying the Mayan language for the character and has spent months filming the production in Atlanta, GA, where he will employ the expertise.

Namor, an anti-hero from the Marvel Cinematic Universe who will appear as the major adversary in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, is the character in question. The actor was unable to confirm the details of the movie in question, and Marvel Studios has been mute on the subject as well.

It hasn’t been an easy road to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as huge as it is. While Hollywood’s approval of diversity may appear to be gradual, the actor claimed that similar talks have only recently begun in Mexico—if they are happening at all.

Huerta claims he “had to remove [his] linguistic identity to blend in” to get to where he is now. “I had to erase my linguistic identity to fit in the new world that I now (live)… If they don’t perceive you as part of them, they don’t accept you.” Of course, another major issue in the industry, which is sometimes linked to racism, is the practice of only categorizing specific ethnicities as stereotypes.

Despite this, Huerta stated that he “always makes a new version” of his character, even if the stereotype is the same. They need thieves, they need kidnappers. So they call the brown-skinned people to make them. And we fit under that stereotype… they are always calling me to make the same character. It’s the bad guy—always. But I always make a different version. Because for me, it’s a person. I create a new personality, a new character each time.” 

“I was lucky because, at the moment [he] was ready [for acting], the world was ready for Latin actors,” the actor said. “I said, ‘yeah, I am ready now.’ Finally, I am ready. It was lucky because at the same time I was ready, the world was ready for Latin actors… especially for actors like me. Because most of the Mexican actors who are in the U.S. are white, they are upper-class, they are fresas [Mexican slang for classy].”

Diego Luna in Star Wars: Rogue One was one of the most notable Latino castings in recent times. Not only did the actor maintain his dialect, but Cassian Andor was Mexican for no reason other than he was. According to a 2019 study from the College of Mexico, the class has a significant impact on people’s opinions of race. If the people being studied are regarded to be well-educated, even following observers will perceive them as whiter. “Societal inequalities and racism are so linked, it’s difficult to determine which one is dominating,” Alice Kroger, a socioeconomic inequality researcher at the College of Mexico, noted.

Kroger also explained how the belief that all Mexicans are one giant race with mixed Spanish and Indigenous ancestry has impacted the country, emphasizing racial mixing and diversity. While their intentions may be genuine, many people believe they are disingenuous “since it has also contributed to a blindness to the existence of racism.” Huerta has even founded a nonprofit dedicated to combating prejudice. As he keeps making his mark in Hollywood, the actor is committed to raising awareness of the issue.

Persistence of a New MCU Villain

It’s fantastic to see that the man who could play Namor put so much work into the part. It demonstrates his dedication to the role and desire to make him as real as possible.

Many theories have circulated that the MCU’s rendition of Atlantis will have more Mayan roots than the comics. This fits in nicely with Huerta’s acquisition of the previously described language.

When it comes to the racism Huerta encounters in Mexico, it’s always heartbreaking to be reminded of how widespread the destructive worldview is. Many people believe that the US is the only country that deals with these difficulties, yet this could not be further from the truth.

Ultimately, Huerta’s rumored role as Namor will enable him to break down any barriers he may be facing in his profession, as well as put him in a better position to get his words heard. After all, Huerta will very certainly have a long career in the MCU and will undoubtedly become well-known around the world.

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