WARNING: The following contains major plot spoilers for both Black Panther and Captain America: Civil War
With the excitement around the popularity of Black Panther and the hope that it marks a turning point in black culture, many have begun drawing socioeconomic similarities between the film and modern history. It’s not hard to see why the film is garnering such critical acclaim. And with its dominance at the box office for the second straight week, conservative estimates are pushing the film into the $1 billion club before its box office reign is over.
One cannot deny the fact that the film has started a conversation concerning African-Americans and specifically their African roots and role in modern society and what Africa could have been had it not been for colonialism. And since the floor is open to discussion, I think it is about time we talk about a modern day similarity most have seemed to glossed over.
While beautiful in its painting of a fictional country brought together by a mythical extraterrestrial being, the similarities between Wakanda and modern day history are striking. The opening scenes sets up the case for Wakanda and the unprepared heir to the throne whose father had previously been killed in a terrorist attack on the United Nations. Throughout the first act we understand why Wakanda is the most prosperous, technologically advanced and yet isolated country in the world. Outside of the fact that Wakanda is built above the site of a meteorite, which contains the strongest and most versatile metal known to man, the country has been able to survive thanks to very certain laws, laws that in todays modern culture sound politically incorrect. In fact, during one of T’Challa’s visions, his now deceased father emphatically states why Wakanda has practiced its protectionism and heightened immigration posture. It is further inferred that Wakanda was able to escape the horrors of the Atlantic Slave Trade by adopting these policies.
Killmonger, the perfect antihero, whose early indoctrination by his father and eventual betrayal by his uncle (T’Chaka), the king of Wakanda, sets the stage for the films conflict, are as focused as they are misguided. His simplistic view of the world dictated that Wakanda arm those who fight oppression throughout the world. Wakanda must open its borders to allow those hurt by colonialism and imperialism to find a haven of rest. And misguided as his actions might be, there is no denying the validity of his argument. Unfortunately, the policies Killmonger advocated are the antithetical of what allowed Wakanda to thrive. Though his dreams for Wakanda never materialized, his complete antipathy to the current rule of law in Wakanda and his abhorrence for modern society are evident in his dying words:
Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from the ships, because they knew death was better than bondage.
It is true that Black Panther provides enough material for a decent discussion regarding the socioeconomic plight the world currently finds itself in. However, most seem to miss the most important one: Wakanda is Wakanda because their strong immigration laws and the fact that they did not engage in nation building, all tenants that have been championed by populist leaders in modern society, much to the dismay of those promulgating the globalist agenda.
In at least three instances, T’Chaka, as well as the council, in no uncertain terms, state that Wakanda cannot continue to be a nation if they allow unchecked immigration and engage in nation building. Even though it can be argued that by the time the credits roll T’Challa has a change of heart concerning some of his positions, it is still evident that he has no plans to bring the worlds problems to Wakanda, but rather help the rest of the world by opening up Wakanda’s technology for others to research and use. The basic idea of protecting the country of Wakanda from unwanted evils brought by lax immigration policies is still realized in the final scene as T’Challa and Nakia stand at the now abandoned apartment building where his uncle died. Instead of flying the children in the playground on his jet to Wakanda, he instead informs Nakia that he has purchased the buildings surrounding the playground which will be used to set up STEM learning centers for all those who are interested.
And so, once again the age old question of nemesis vs anti-nemesis can be pondered. Say what you will, but something tells me Oscar Wilde lost the bet on this one.