There has been plenty of hype leading up to the upcoming weekend’s release of “Black Panther,” Marvel’s upcoming superhero flick. Records have already been set for opening weekend ticket sales. Families, schools, and entire neighborhoods have bought out movie theaters for private screenings.
It’s one of the most highly anticipated superhero movies of all time, and that is not surprising: It has an exciting cast, the story looks solid, and it’s the first time a black character gets to lead the charge as a superhero with an almost all-black supporting cast.
Black Panther himself is the newly crowned king of the fictional Wakanda, but it seems the biggest star of the movie might be the fictional African nation of Wakanda instead of Chadwick Boseman. It represents a fantasy of a modern African nation untouched by invasion and exploitation. Without the loss of many generations and resources to slavery and imperialism, Wakanda is vastly beyond the rest of the world in technology, culture, and education.
Its inhabitants are strong, smart, and not reliant on any other country or organization. They are the only nation with the highly coveted sound-absorbing element “Vibranium.” Selling small amounts has allowed them to sustain themselves for quite a long time. Having a unique element coveted by so many has made them wary of any outsider presence, deepening an already isolationist mentality among the royal family and the citizens.
Wanting their true identity to remain secret, Wakandans spent generations stitching themselves in, concealing their substantial economic and technological advancements. They are behind a wall, unseen and inaccessible. Wakandans don’t live abroad, and foreigners are not granted access to their country. Decisions made and actions taken in Wakanda are for the achievements and advancements of their countrymen, not the rest of the world.
This country is ethnically homogenous—the only people in Wakanda are Wakandans. There are a few different cults, and a few different dialects, but they all speak the same language. If you forget that Wakanda is supposed to be in East Africa, it starts to sound an awful lot like a Trumpian fantasy land. Here is an example, albeit fictional, where a walled-in nation is thriving, self-reliant, and completely unaccommodating of outsiders.
Simply replace the geographic location, the race, and the language, and it really looks like the United States that some insist President Trump fantasizes about, if only coal had the power and value of Vibranium. I wonder if President Trump would think of himself as a dual-identity superhero/president. I am inclined to think that he already does.
In Wakanda, citizens achieve high levels of education by going into other nations to attend top schools and gain experience. They always return to the homeland, eager to apply their knowledge and experience to Wakanda’s greater good. It is the ultimate national pride: anyone from there stays there, and everyone outside wants to get in, but can’t.
Many people are disenchanted with being citizens of this country. Not that everyone wants to leave, but it just isn’t always as exciting for everyone as it once was. You can see how a country like Wakanda might be appealing if you’re feeling uninspired by your nationality. What if everyone in America dressed in red, white, and blue every day, mined magic coal, and shunned jealous outsiders from inside our tremendous wall? Apparently the rest of the world all wants to get in because we are the best at absolutely everything.
What kind of existence would hundreds of years of isolationism really create? How happy could the citizens of that country actually be, knowing that there is a whole world around them that they barely participate in? As new generations are born, I believe humans’ natural curiosity would push them to explore the world. As intriguing as a country like Wakanda is, its utopian nature is limited to fantasy.