Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is not only a poignant dedication at the end Chadwick Boseman but a superb celebration of African and Mesoamerican culture, and every new character reflects that. As with any new MCU entry, the characters are taken from the extensive source material of the comics and are designed to enrich the overall narrative.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is no different. This cast of new characters helps expand fans’ understanding of Wakanda and its place in the world while championing the cultural diversity that Phase 4 of the MCU is known for. So who are they and what did they do before making their big screen debut?
In the film, Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) is first called “the scientist”. She is the one who invents the machine used to detect vibranium, and it is not only the Wakandans who are unhappy about it. In an attempt to save her from a murderous Fishman, Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Okoye (Call Gurira) picks up Riri from her MIT dorm, but it doesn’t go as planned.
In the comics, Riri is none other than Ironheart. If the name sounds familiar to non-comic fans, it’s because the TV series Stone heartis set to debut on Disney+ in fall 2023. Comic Riri is a certified super genius who gets his hands on an old model of Iron Man armor and reverses the technology to create his own costume, which fans can see in the movie. Riri continues Tony Stark’s legacy when he falls into a coma after a battle with Captain Marvel and eventually joins The Champions alongside Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel). At some point, Riri travels to Wakanda to help Shuri and her team develop their space program.
Namor (Tenoch Huerta) is the film’s big bad who is bloodthirsty when his undersea kingdom of Talokan is threatened. The Aquatic King was born to a human mother, causing his olive skin to look different than his blue-skinned brethren. Namor is considered a mutant because of his pointed ears and winged ankles. He is determined to protect Talokan from the surface world, which he deems evil and greedy, including the Wakandans if they oppose him.
In the comics, Namor is known by the nickname Sub-Mariner, who is the King of Atlantis rather than Talokan. He is one of the oldest characters in Marvel comics history, often referred to as the first mutant. Namor teams up with Professor Charles Xavier to search for other mutants and even fights alongside Magneto at one point. He falls in love with the Invisible Woman, Sue Storm, and engages in a bitter rivalry with Hercules. As in the film, Namor has a difficult relationship with the Wakandans, especially Queen Shuri, who distrusts him.
Although Talokan is a location rather than a new character, he still plays a central role in the film. Home to an underwater race of blue-skinned humanoids, it is the only other known place on the planet besides Wakanda that is rich in vibranium. Talokan is ruled by King Namor, who has pledged to protect the underwater paradise from the surface world.
Talokan replaces Atlantis in the comics and is based on ancient Aztec lore. Tlalocan is said to be an Aztec paradise ruled by the Tlaloc, the god of rain and water. It is the highest layer of the nine layers of the underworld. In Aztec mythology, how a person dies determines in which layer they will spend their afterlife. Those killed by water manifestations – drowning, lightning, flooding, waterborne disease – will end up in Tlalocan.
Go out together
In the movie, Namora (mabel chain) is one of Namor’s buddies from Talokan. Although her appearances are brief, fans might see her again in future projects as she is based on a comic book character of the same name.
The comic Namora, who is also called Aquaria Neptunia, is Namor’s cousin. She was born to an Atlantean male and a human female. Namor and Namora reluctantly play together until she saves her cousin from a deadly torpedo tube. After that, she earns Namor’s respect, and the two become close, undertaking many adventures together. Namora even has an affair with Hercules, much to Namor’s chagrin.
In the movie, Attuma (Alex Livinalli) is Namor’s right-hand man. He is a great warrior who has an epic showdown with General Okoye of the Dora Milaje. She calls him “warrior”, in reference to his comic book origins.
In the comics, Attuma and Namor are sworn enemies. Attuma is part of the Skarka tribe who were exiled from Atlantis before he was born. Attuma’s birth was prophesied by the tribe – a great warrior would be born to conquer Atlantis. Attuma stays true to the prophecy, dedicating his life to overthrowing Atlantis and King Namor, and even succeeds at one point, taking the throne for a short time. After Atlantis is weakened by their war with Wakanda, Attuma and Namor put aside their differences and join forces to restore Atlantis to its former glory.
In the film, Shuri works on a prototype of a new suit for the Dora Milaje, designed to enhance their abilities and give them greater defensive abilities. Okoye is not a fan of this costume, deeming it ugly and untraditional. She nuzzles her nose at Shuri’s work name for the project, the Midnight Angel. When Wakanda is attacked, Okoye has no choice but to don the costume alongside Ayo (Florence Kasumba), Various (Michael Coel), and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), giving them an added advantage over Namor’s forces.
In the comics, the Midnight Angels are an elite Wakandan strike force made up of top Dora Milaje. Ayo and Aneka are the first Midnight Angels, becoming vigilantes who eliminate corrupt leaders who enslave and defile women. They even teamed up with Deadpool at one point to assassinate Doctor Doom for stealing Wakanda’s vibranium.
Princess Shuri’s Black Panther
While Black Panther is by no means new to MCU fans, this is the first time Princess Shuri has taken the helm. Shuri replicates the heart-shaped grass after Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) destroys everything and ingests it to become the Black Panther. At first, her revenge and ego gets the better of her, resulting in massive casualties in the final battle with Talokan. But his noble decision to spare Namor and form an alliance allows him to fully embody the spirit of the Black Panther.
In the comics, Shuri gets her time as Black Panther after T’Challa is nearly killed by Doctor Doom and falls into a coma. She ingests the heart-shaped herb and meets the panther god Bast, but it doesn’t go well. Bast rejects Shuri because of his arrogance and ego, which encourages Shuri to prove himself by defending Wakanda against the vampiric supervillain Morlun. When T’Challa finally wakes up, he decides to temporarily leave the helm to his sister, who turns out to be an outstanding Black Panther.
KEEP READING: ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Producer Explains Storm’s Absence in Wakanda
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Every New Character And Their Comic Book Counterpart – GameSpot
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