Everytime the Talokans see Namor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, they make a hand gesture. It’s the Talokan civilization’s equivalent of Wakandians doing the arm-X across the chest when they say “Wakanda forever”. I think most people get the Wakanda gesture. There’s something visceral and cool about the act. And familiar. You see athletes do something similar after an amazing play or victory. They’ll hit their chest in celebration. It’s powerful. Or some militaries will have their soldiers stand at attention with a fist over their hearts, symbolic of their dedication and passion. But the Talokan gesture isn’t as inherently understandable.
The Talokan gesture involves raising one hand with the palm up, fingers extended, and the other hand above it, palm out, fingers extended. If you’re familiar with Dragon Ball Z, it kind of looks like the hand gesture for Goku’s famous kamehameha blast. Except a lot less energetic. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever doesn’t have a moment of dialogue that explains the gesture. Namor doesn’t tell Shuri, “We do this because yadda yadda.” It’s just something we see dozens of people do. So I’m sure a lot of viewers will just chalk it up to something random Kevin Feige and Ryan Coogler came up with.
But there’s a likely real world answer and a probable in-world answer.
Talokan is derived from Mesoamerican history, as the people were originally just land-living Mayans. That’s why they speak Yucatec Maya. So it’s possible that the gesture itself is an adaptation of something discovered in researching Mesoamerican art and culture. You can see similar hand gestures in art found on old codices.
So the simplest answer is that people involved in the film, maybe even Namor actor Tenoch Huerta Mejia himself, were looking at Meso-era art similar to the above photos and saw the hand gesture was reoccurring, knew the Talokans should have something like Wakanda, and decided to adapt it.
But Wakanda Forever might have gone an extra step and offered a bit of a in-world explanation, too.
Just before Talokan and Wakanda have their first fight, we see Namor, in full regalia, descend into his throne room. The throne is impressively oceanic. It rests in the middle of a set of giant, decorative jaws from what had to be a monstrous shark. Maybe a megalodon? Or the greatest of great whites. It has Iron Throne vibes from Game of Thrones. It could be that the hand gesture the Talokans do is symbolic for the throne. One hand is the bottom jaw. The other is the upper jaw. And the fingers are kind of like the teeth. Namor is the king of the shark-toothed throne. The hand gesture is just a respectful way to acknowledge Namor’s authority.
That creates an interesting contrast. Wakandans do a gesture that’s about the culture as a whole. While the Talokan’s do one that recognizes their leader. Which makes sense since Namor has ruled the nation for over 300 years. He is Talokan and Talokan is him. While Wakanda recognizes the heart of its people. Just a nice little detail.
I hope this article helped. If you have any more questions regarding Black Panther: Wakanda Forever then leave a comment! I’ll answer the best I can.
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