For Black Panther, escaping politics is impossible.
For a character who shares a name with one of America’s most radical racial political movements, trying to avoid the topic entirely would have been both difficult and unwise. Instead, star Chadwick Boseman has gone on record regarding the politics within the world of Wakanda.
Wakanda in the Marvel Universe has always been both commentary and reflection on the real world. The real world has seen every attempt to form successful governments on the African continent thwarted by outside colonization and exploitation. Wakanda is different. The insanely wealthy, technologically advanced monarchy has never been conquered. It is an African nation which never fell victim to European ambitions and is ruled by a monarchy which traces its line back for centuries.
THE PRINCE’S PATH
Boseman originated the role in Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, and will reprise it in the upcoming solo film from director Ryan Coogler. As the first actor to take on the role, Boseman will define the character for a new generation of viewers. His version of the character debuted as a traumatized prince seeking revenge after the violent death of his father at the hands of Zemo. His father’s murder led Prince T’Challa to assume the role of Black Panther, Wakanda’s traditional guardian. In his solo film, Boseman must explore not only T’Challa’s role as the African super-soldier. He will also have to show a young prince trying to navigate the waters of his country’s complex political landscape.
Earlier this week Boseman discussed that struggle with Entertainment Weekly as a part of the press junket in advance of the film’s release.
“Generally, there is unrest because there’s no leader on the throne. We’re dealing with a similar thing right now in this country. Just because a person was elected doesn’t mean everybody agrees with the things he’s going to do.”
The comparison with US President Donald Trump may seem odd at first glance. The political tone of the film is, according to Boseman, intentional. The actor described the film as “a political drama essentially.” He did downplay the idea that his T’Challa is referencing Trump, telling EW that “he’s not Donald Trump! It’s funny watching the campaign because we were working on this before the campaign started, in terms of the prep. Watching how that ended, watching Obama leave office, and watching Trump take over … There are definite parallels there that you pull from.”
How the film chooses to explore these conflicts will be key in determining its larger place among the lexicon of Marvel films. Even in its origin story films, Marvel has gone to great lengths to make their movies transcend genres. The first Captain America was a war film, the second a spy thriller. The recent Spider-Man: Homecoming was, at it’s core, a high-school coming-of-age tale. Marvel attempted to explore court politics to some extent in the first two Thor films, but the tone failed to full register. If Black Panther succeeds where Thor failed, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be richer for it.
SOURCE: Entertainment Weekly