Chadwick Boseman, star of Marvel’s Black Panther gives fans an idea of what Wakanda is like, calling it a utopia. After Marvel transported fans into one of the other nine realms with Thor: Ragnarok, the franchise will soon get back to Earth with the introduction of the technologically advanced hidden country in Africa as the main setting of the next film on their slate. The movie continues T’Challa’s story after he was suddenly thrust onto Wakanda’s throne with the untimely death of his father in Captain America: Civil War. Now, the heir apparent returns to his home country with a slew of issues he needs to tackle — both as King and the Black Panther.
There has always been a bubbling excitement from fans surrounding the Ryan Coogler-directed Marvel project as its story will tap into the still unexplored pockets of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In theory, Wakanda being far removed from the bigger franchise despite the fact that it exists on the same planet has always been intriguing. Add to that the brilliant introduction of Boseman’s superhero character in Civil War and fans are clamoring to know more about him and where he came from. In just three months, we’ll know, but before that, the actor previews what makes Wakanda a unique place and how it factors into T’Challa’s characterization.
Sitting down for an interview with Cnet, Boseman spoke about T’Challa’s native country and how folks behind the film were able to create a big screen version of the fictional nation that is both loyal to its print source but not out-of-touch when it comes to reality by considering the current state of politics:
“People think about how race has affected the world. It’s not just in the States. Colonialism is the cousin of slavery. Colonialism in Africa would have it that, in order to be a ruler, his education comes from Europe. I wanted to be completely sure that we didn’t convey that idea because that would be counter to everything that Wakanda is about. It’s supposed to be the most technologically advanced nation on the planet. If it’s supposed to not have been conquered — which means that advancement has happened without colonialism tainting it, poisoning the well of it, without stopping it or disrupting it — then there’s no way he would speak with a European accent.
“If I did that, I would be conveying a white supremacist idea of what being educated is and what being royal or presidential is. Because it’s not just about him running around fighting. He’s the ruler of a nation. And if he’s the ruler of a nation, he has to speak to his people. He has to galvanize his people. And there’s no way I could speak to my people, who have never been conquered by Europeans, with a European voice.”
It sounds complex in terms of world-building, especially with the need for the concept of Wakanda to be believable in order for it to work in Black Panther. For those who are still confused, however, Boseman simplified things by describing the fictional nation: “It’s a utopia. It’s not just an African utopia — it’s a utopia. It’s a place where spirituality and science do not war with each other.” Boseman’s description is certainly what Wakanda appears to be like when you look at the trailers for Black Panther. On the one hand, we see spaceships and high-tech gadgets, on the other, there is still a certain sense of tradition – especially with the notion of inheriting the mantle as the country’s leader and protector. It’s a perfect juxtaposition that will be interesting to see play out, especially with the visuals that Coogler used in the project.
Immersing ourselves in Wakanda is a great starting point to establish T’Challa as one of the newest game players in the MCU. Understanding where he comes from and what kind of upbringing he had helps us to better understand him, making him relatable and easier to root for, which is what Marvel usually does with its heroes. That way, he is more than a Vibranium-wearing superhero, but an actual human being going through personal issues like everyone else does.
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