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Will Marvel get Africa “Right” in the Upcoming Black Panther Movie?

Black Panther

For most African comic book enthusiasts it was a complete joy to hear that Marvel was in talks with a female director to take on the role of bringing the live action Black panther movie to reality. It was even better news to hear that they were engaging the acclaimed and highly praised director of Selma (2014) a movie about the civil rights movement, Ava Duvernay. I for one was as skeptical as ever. The reason for my skepticism stemmed not only from the fact that Marvel is behind this film and their recent movies assume a very adolescent tone but from a more personal opinion; one which is deeply rooted in my identity as an African and the knowledge that neither Marvel nor the creator of the Black Panther himself know about the real Africa, therefore they couldn’t possibly know what Wakanda really is.


Earlier this July it was reported that Selma Director Ava Duvernay had declined the offer from Marvel to direct the film after meeting the cast and the executives. A lot of diplomatic terms were used in her comments to the press regarding why she turned down ( or excused herself) from the film but in a nutshell she cited avoiding future creative differences about how Marvel wanted to tell the story and ultimately tackle and integrate the Black Panther into the Marvel cinematic universe. She spoke to essence magazine saying,

“I’m not signing on to direct Black Panther. I think I’ll just say we had different ideas about what the story would be. Marvel has a certain way of doing things and I think they’re fantastic and a lot of people love what they do. I loved that they reached out to me. I loved meeting Chadwick and writers and all the Marvel execs. In the end, it comes down to story and perspective. And we just didn’t see eye to eye. Better for me to realize that now than cite creative differences later.

I am of the opinion that her views and ambition was to create a realistic an non stylized version of the kingdom of Wakanda which is the world (or country ) from which the Black Panther T’Challa comes from . I am also of the belief that Marvel knows that the classic representation of Wakanda in the Marvel comic books needs to be kept consistent with the film though the so called classic representation of Wakanda is backward, underdeveloped and down-right derogative. I feel as though MARVEL has a challenge to represent Wakanda with a high level of sophistication and technological advancement without shattering the American and European belief that Africa is a backward place which is trapped in the stone age. I believe our current reality of being strong, intelligent, educated and sophisticated people is more unrealistic to their audience than comic book super heroes themselves.

Black Panther Movie 2017

The representation of Asgard, the world where Thor comes from in the second Thor film was heavily modified from Norse Mythology in order to give the impression of superiority and technological genius. By that I am referring to the flying air craft and aesthetic of Asgard. I’m also talking about their references to having advanced medical procedures which they could not use to help even Jane Foster. However there is no reference to medicine or spaceships in the original mythology of Norse gods. My point being; in order to imbue the gods of Asgard with an aura of superiority which supersedes that of the worlds super powers in reality, Marvel needed to step it up a notch. The question is: are Marvel and Kevin Feige willing to accord Wakanda some sort of African Authenticity? Will Johannesburg (As seen in The Avengers Age Of Ultron ) look more modern or less sophisticated than Wakanda by the time the credits start rolling?? Or are they going to succumb to western perceptions (that they would fear to shatter) which state that Africa is a dark place where everyone runs around in mud-hut villages hunting impala with bones going through our noses?

I’m of the belief that the depiction that Duvernay was going to give was going to stay true to the beauty and potential of Africa as seen in countries with modern and Advanced infrastructure such as Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Namibia and all the others I can not name due to limitations on word count. I am of the strong impression that the so called future creative differences or incompatible ideas had much to do with representation of culture, spirituality and maturity of the African continent which would have been too profound for Marvel’s large American adolescent audience.

Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that Ava Duvernay was the perfect person for the job; What I’m saying at this point in time is that, the best person for the job can only be someone with a strong, authentic and long term relationship with the African continent while also having vast knowledge of the Marvel universe and the Black Panther comic books in particular. Either way, Wakanda is a puzzle that Marvel created but can never solve without offending or misrepresenting Africa and Africans. I will be following the production of the film closely but I suspect it will be a long one.


The views and opinions represented in this article are the authors own and do not represent the Opinions of Youneek studios.

Eugene RamirezEugene Ramirez Mapondera is an entrepreneur, comic book artist and professional illustrator based in Harare Zimbabwe. He has a Bsc in Political Science From the University of Zimbabwe and writes articles for and He also has IMDB film credits for his work on American indie films such as Boston and UK produced film The Secret Princess.





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Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • Black and White says:

    nice story

  • Ronald T. Jones says:

    Hopefully, Wakanda will be portrayed the way it was in the Black Panther comics when it was penned by Reggie Hudlin. Wakanda was a modern looking nation, with a modern infrastructure, advanced technology and a military where the soldiers were not half naked and equipped with spears.

  • Said in Los Angeles says:

    “I believe our current reality of being strong, intelligent, educated and sophisticated people is more unrealistic to their audience than comic book super heroes themselves.” So true.

  • Tim Kretzer says:

    King T’challa and the Kingdom of Wakanda are the most technologically advanced nation on the planet, and should be portrayed that way. A great scene would be to have Tony Stark, with his typical braggadocio techno-holier-than-thou attitude be left silent and with his jaw on the floor at realizing just the tip of the iceberg of the level of intelligence and advancement that the citizens of Wakanda possess. The Black Panther is not only more advanced in technology than Iron Man, but he has the leadership skills and maturity, the morality and ethical backbone that Stark has never had, at least not consistently or for long. Don’t get me wrong, I like ol’ shell head, and all of his flaws have made for some interesting character development and story-lines over the years, but as Marvel moves into their next cinematic universe phase they need to develop the next phase of characters not simply as replacements or the next shift clocking in, but as individually great characters themselves. They won’t be great, or interesting, if Marvel tries to simply use the same kind of cookie cutter they’ve been using for characters. The Black Panther and Wakanda are an entirely new history, civilization and culture for the most part to most movie go’ers and the potential for the greatness that could be established is endless, not only in stories, but in the potential to help shape attitudes and ideas … unless they’re relegated to copy and paste stereotypes and cliches.

    • Superman11111 says:

      Tony has much greater intellectual and technological feats than Black Panther

      you are wrong sir, completely and uitterly wrong

  • That was an interesting article but I think it is a little ironic for us to expect too much from a fictional African nation! But if we are trying to represent the real Africa then I believe we Africans should not fool anyone beginning with ourselves! It is true that Africa is not as technologically inverted as some comic books have it seem but the fact is the continent (like it or not) is mostly underdeveloped! African Teenagers and young adults might roam the streets with the newest phones in town and it’s biggest metropolis may take a few shots at building sky scrappers etc but with all that said for most of the continent (except a few parts like south Africa and Egypt) most people find it difficult to access basic resources including electricity (now even dumsor is a recognized word!) and water. Our Agricultural sector is still solely dependent on rain and a lot of the continent is still lacking quality education , even EXO a comic character I personally find it difficult to relate to as an African youth was set in an Africa the author deems 10 years away! The hard fact remains Africa still has a long way to go and I think we should embrace that fact and move forward rather than ran away from the truth! I am not saying we should just accept it as it is and continue to suffer but all I am saying is the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one and I personally believe that in terms of depicting Africa right Marvel has a good chance at least painting a picture that might be a more honest one if compared to EXO.

    • Roye Okupe says:

      Hey Kevin. Thanks for your contribution to this topic. I believe every one is entitled to their own opinions so I won’t discredit anything you said. And to be honest , I believe you made some very great points. Yes we as Africans have a lot of work to do, not just from the technological standpoint but in general. But so does ever other continent. I would also suggest if you have some time to check out these articles below, Africa may not be as far behind as you think:

      Lastly, as the author of E.X.O. I would like to respond to your comment about EXO and it not being relatable. The goal was never to have Africans (or anyone else for that matter) relate to the technological aspects of the book/character, but to relate to the human side of him as a Nigerian who sees a serious issue with his city/nation . Throughout the book, EXO deals with issues like domestic terrorism, inequality, social injustice, corruption and more. All of which you can find Not only in Africa but around the whole world. African or American, black or white, I don’t think anyone relates to superheroes based on their powers, gadgets or the aesthetics the story surrounds them with.

      I think by now we all know that Africa has issues with things like electricity, education and poverty. It has been well documented in mainstream media. And yes we should shine a light on all those (which I actually reference strongly in the E.X.O. graphic novel) and actively work on ways to eradicate them. However, I also believe is time to start showing more positive things that are currently happening (and other things we hope will happen) in Africa as well,

      • Roye ….first of all you can consider me a fan…not your biggest but I am definitely a fan!! I admit that yes characters are not related to through their powers and abilities and I understood how your main focus was to emphasize on Wale’s human aspects! I was quite impressed with a few things like how the Nigerian culture was boldly exhibited and even the natural use of the vernaculars (to be honest as I began reading I thought those elements would be lost within the book…..thanks for proving me wrong!!!!!
        ?) but I still think the characters could be brought a little closer to home! Wale much like you has spent a lot of time outside and it seems the same for Zahra and even Timi honestly the only one I could relate to as an African was Benji (I am not saying Africans cannot be sophisticated) but I personally feel a base beneath the house was a little much! Spiderman related so well because of who he was ….most American high school students said he was one of them and that is what drew him closer to them but Wale might be a tad too much for a few of us to really get! I am also an aspiring comic creator and my hope is to inspire my nations youth through fantastical stories but I feel to be truly able to do that my audience need to feel like they can be the character in the first place, that is something that quite frankly I do not believe Wale can do for many people in Africa but with all that said I am not trying to tell you how to run your show just flow with it you guys are doing great but even though you may continue to showcase a more refined and advanced side of Africa I would really appreciate it if you could give us a bit more of the rough and rigid Africa we know (much like what you did with the Omile district) ,and from there show us how we can move forward …..looking out for future stories …..WOW ME!!!!!
        and please visit to see some of my work…I am still a rookie and I would appreciate any tips from the pros!

        • Roye Okupe says:

          Well said my brother. I see were you’re coming from but still disagree slightly. But I’m always completely open to constructive criticism as I believe no one knows it all. Plus even the best of stories always have room to improve. Even though you consider yourself a rookie, there’s a lot we can learn from each other. I will definitely check out your stuff.

          • Thanks! that means a lot to me!!! And I will be right behind you on your journey too keep those articles coming…I do learn a lot from them!!!!!!
            And say hello to the whole team for me especially Sunkanmi I envy his art!!!!

  • Kullkid says:

    Guys Marvel is a white organisation and let them do d movie dey want o please.
    The guy who wrote BP is a white let him do his story. He made BP to be a white hero not an African hero

  • Kevin what’s ur problem? For instance, gods of Egypt was a movie with characters not related to Africa and d setting was in ancient tims but yet we enjoyed d film.
    U must understand dat d movie was created by whites and therefore was made in their version though dey know how Africa looks now a days . We should see Dis a sign of encouragement cos dey r trying to encourage us DAT in dose tims we had developed techno even before d whites. so if u want wait n see d rating of BPanther and later make a reload black panther movie n see if a single soul will bother watching it.
    Now why B.Panther movie was sited in da village?
    Supposing it were sited now a days / in d city, crime would have grown so much dat B. Panther would be forced to stay in Africa instead of join da Avengers.
    They wanted a way to make Black Panther fight as an Avenger in USA so if he e
    were in a village he wouldn’t bother to stay since der s lesser crime which is handelled by d council of elders since they r petty crimes.
    They r forcing because making a super hero movie in Africa villages is almost impossible.
    Wen u r done with a reloaded B panther movie notify me 4 ma ratings.
    Contact me as my name of facebook

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