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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever's Mabel Cadena Was Worried Namora's Costume Would Kill Her Underwater

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" does a great job of expanding on characters that we've met in previous films, as well as introducing a few newcomers into the fold. While a significant portion of the narrative is devoted to honoring the late Chadwick Boseman, the plot delves into how Shuri (Letitia Wright), Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), and more must reimagine the future of Wakanda after T'Challa's passing. However, their lives become even more chaotic with the arrival of Namor (Tenoch Huerta) and his aquatic arsenal, reinforced by a deep sea deposit of vibranium.

The strength of Namor and Talokan rivals that of the Wakandans, owing to the fact that both cultures share a similar history. However, the people who live in the underwater kingdom of Talokan have a distinct visual style that makes them instantly identifiable in a crowded cast of characters. While the Wakandans have the Dora Milaje, Namor has his own entourage. Mabel Cadena plays Namora, Namor's cousin and advisor who's a fierce fighter in her own right. As a key figure in Talokan, Namora's costume reflects her origins with bright colors, marine-oriented details, and an intimidating silhouette. The outfit strikes a different tone than the sleek, severe garments worn by the Wakandan warriors. Working underwater presented different challenges for Cadena, who was briefly concerned that Namora's costume would drown her.

Cadena was initially scared to go underwater in the heavy headpiece

Namora is shown to be one of Namor's closest confidantes and the ending of "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" seemingly implies that we haven't seen the last of her. Namora appears on land and underwater throughout the film, so her costume required a duality that would allow her to showcase a fluid fighting style. Ruth Carter, the costume designer on both "Black Panther" and its sequel, was well aware of the challenges when it came to creating a realistic look for Namora. Underwater sequences were planned using a 20-foot water tank, Carter revealed to Variety, and she ended up using weights in the costumes to accentuate the buoyant aesthetic.

With all that extra weight, it makes sense that Cadena was apprehensive. The actor admitted that although the costume was beautiful, the mechanics of the look were daunting at first. When it came time for Cadena to wear the outfit, she was worried that its bulk would weigh her down in the water.

"The headpiece is very heavy and under the water you can feel beauty in the costume, in the movements, and in all these things," Cadena explained on the Cup of Soul Show. "But the first time, to me, was like 'This costume is going to kill me under the water.'"

Ultimately, the costume helped to inform Cadena about Namora's inner life and her scenes went off without a hitch.