Considering the plot spoilers in the ads, this could have very well been titled ‘Atlantis Attacks‘ (a Marvel event back in 1989, revisited in 2020, and Wakanda found itself fighting Namor during the Avengers vs. X-Men / Phoenix Force Returns in 2012) though to be fair, Atlantis isn’t mentioned. Instead it’s Wakanda thrown against Talokan – the MCU stand in for Atlantis currently.
Honestly, tying things in with Mesoamerica works well on several points. Namor as the feathered serpent god Ku’ku’lkan works and there is a whole aesthetic with the head dresses and jewelry that makes them unique compared to many other comic book Atlantian dress codes. The Spanish conquest directly informs Namor’s persecution complex and his desire for secrecy as the first line of defence. Then there is the very cool looking artistic interpretation of the Black Panther at the end. Over all, I can work with this despite my brain screaming loudly “This isn’t my Atlantis or Marvel’s Atlantis or any kind of Atlantis!” because it isn’t Atlantis and the Inhumans can still lay claim that Atlan as the inspiration for the myth.
Three origins managed to get crammed into the movie, though Riri Williams is apparently getting her own Disney+ series so I imagine that we will see more of her back story there. Overall there is a lot of story and it takes 2 1/2 hours to tell it. The only real connective tissue to other MCU storylines is Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (last seen recruiting USAgent and a new Black Widow) as a lead up to a Thunderbolts movie aka a Dark Avengers plotline. (Thunderbolts in the comics was originally a team of super villains playing at being super heroes during an absence of the Avengers for a long con to gain the public confidence before cashing in on it, then it became the Marvel answer to the Suicide Squad)
However, I can’t say that this movie is without flaws – most of them being the sort that you won’t even think about until you watch it again at home or while trying to explain the storyline to a friend. Some of the CGI is a bit forced but in a super hero movie I’m not looking for extreme realism. I’m actually amazed that Namor’s look worked as well as it did, green speedos and winged feet. Meanwhile I’m not even going to question Talokan’s technological curve, the swim speed of whales, and how Namor learns as much about the goings on with the surface world as he does like *PLOT SPOILER* and *PLOT SPOILER* (plot convenience, that’s how!).
My final thoughts – M’Baku is without question my favourite character in the Black Panther corner of the universe. M’Baku remains bombastic but again shows quiet moments of wisdom and sensitivity, now very much an uncle figure for Shuri and the occasional comic relief that an emotionally charged movie like this needs. Ironheart looks more like an anime armor suit but I’m okay with that as we need fewer Stark clones out there. I have no problem believing that she could build her protype suit in her spare time as this is the same universe that Peter Parker put together his webshooters and high school Bruno Carrelli put together a hologram glove and other gadgets for Kamala Khan. As for Namor’s supporting crew, I hope to see more of Namora and Attuma in the future as both play significant roles in the comics and I would hate to see them wasted.
As Marvel Movies go, giving it a B, maybe a B+. I’d be willing to watch it again, the story is good enough, but it lacks the gravitas of the original Black Panther, the action sequences of Captain America – Winter Soldier, or even the soundtrack and chemistry of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1.
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