The Moral Horror of Black Panther

Earlier last year, we were served up yet another superhero blockbuster. In a much-needed departure from Hollywood orthodoxy, and from the trend of the previous seventeen Marvel movies, the leading role was occupied by a black superhero. And he was only one of a superb cast of African and African-American actors, both men and women, in roles which shattered stereotypes and make Black Panther a triumph for representation.

The same was true of the film’s depiction of the fictional African country Wakanda (especially compared to past Hollywood outings). We saw an ultra-futuristic state in which there is no sign of instability, poverty, or disease. Yet, culturally, it remained distinctly African. Actors could even be heard frequently speaking the Xhosa language onscreen.

The film dealt with colonialism, racial identity, and oppression with a surprising level of thoughtfulness for a superhero flick. The villain wanted to use violence to combat racial injustice across the globe, but we’re positioned to be largely sympathetic to his goals — it’s his violence, not his redressing of racial injustice, that the filmmakers wanted us to oppose.

It was also a plenty entertaining movie, as you’d expect from its ‘97% fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

But there was one element of Black Panther which is disappointing. We were shown what was meant to be an African utopia, but the fictional Wakanda, over which the protagonist T’Challa rules as king, is steadfastly isolationist. The country is wealthy beyond belief due to its vast reserves of the mineral ‘vibranium’ (valued at $10,000 per gram). It is also far more technologically advanced than any other nation on Earth, and has been for hundreds of years. Yet it doesn’t involve itself in the affairs of others.

(Spoiler alert: This does change at the end of the film, several hundred years too late.)

Nakia (far left, Lupita Nyong’o), T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and Okoye (Danai Gurira) are Wakanda’s greatest protectors in Black Panther.

For hundreds of years, Wakanda has hidden itself behind enormous holograms and cut itself off from the rest of the world. They offer no aid to countries in need, take in no refugees, abstain from diplomacy (except for a single foray in the most recent Captain America movie), and intervene overseas only when Andy Serkis steals their vibranium.

This may appeal to those who oppose foreign aid and humanitarian intervention, particularly the far right in many Western countries. It probably seemed idyllic to creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966, in the midst of the Vietnam War. Nonetheless, on reflection, it’s rather horrifying.

Worldwide, 750 million people live on less than $1.90 a day (even after accounting for the greater purchasing power in low-income countries). 1 million people die of HIV/AIDS each year. 1.6 million people die slow and painful deaths from nutritional deficiencies. 700,000 die of malaria, mostly children under the age of 5.

The fictional Wakanda could prevent an enormous portion of this (as could many wealthy countries in real life). Despite the various myths surrounding foreign aid, it is also shockingly easy, and inexpensive, to save people from extreme poverty and from dying. To lift people out of extreme poverty is comparably cheap — in theory, it would take less than $1.90 per person per day. In practice, it’s estimated that it would take $150 billion per year to eradicate extreme poverty entirely. Note that that’s less than current global spending on aid. On the health front, the comprehensive Disease Control Priorities Report estimates that, when carefully targeted, aid interventions can prevent deaths from malaria, nutritional deficiencies, and vaccine-preventable diseases for only a few thousand dollars each. And this is without even making use of the wondrous medical technology available in Wakanda, which we see used to heal an otherwise fatal spinal injury overnight.

And that’s just what can be achieved today. Historically, there’s so much more that a wealthy, technologically advanced nation could have done. For instance, smallpox killed more than 300 million people in the 20th Century alone, before it was eradicated in the seventies. Just after World War I, the Spanish influenza pandemic killed 50–100 million — roughly 5% of the world population — in just two years. And that’s before even considering two world wars (more than 50 million dead), the Ukrainian (4.6 million) and Ottoman (2 million) genocides, political purges in China (8 million, plus 20 million deaths through penal labour), in the USSR (1 million), and in Cambodia (1.3 million), as well as the countless famines and natural disasters that have struck since 1900. With its vast resources and space-age technology, Wakanda’s failure to intervene in these cases allowed billions of needless deaths.

And we’re not just talking about a passive failure to intervene elsewhere in the world. As one savvy commentator points out, in the Marvel universe, the fictional Wakanda lies directly between Uganda and Tanzania. Between 1971 and 1979, it’s estimated that 300,000–500,000 people died at the hands of Idi Amin’s regime in Uganda. 20,000 refugees escaped this fate by fleeing into neighbouring Tanzania. Except, in the world of Black Panther, they would have found their way blocked by Wakanda — a nation which does not involve itself in the troubles of other countries and which has never admitted refugees. (In the film, the head of border security dismisses the possibility, saying outright “If we take refugees, we inherit their problems.”) Wakanda’s active refusal to admit 20,000 desperate Ugandans would have simply added to the death toll. On top of that, in reality, it was the intervention of the Tanzanian armed forces (spurred by the influx of refugees) that was largely responsible for ending Amin’s reign. With the Black Panther’s obstinate hermit nation barring the way, however, Amin would have remained in power many years longer.

Taking a step back from these examples though, can we really say that any country has an obligation to help others? In the academic study of ethics, various arguments have been given in favour of a ‘duty to rescue’. (Similarly, in international relations, arguments have been given for a formal ‘responsibility to protect’.) Here is just one argument, perhaps the most significant, which was put forward by philosopher Peter Singer 50 years ago.

Imagine that you’re out for a walk one afternoon. You come across a shallow pond, in which you see a small child struggling to stay afloat, clearly about to drown. You could walk on by and let the child drown, or you could wade in and pull the child to safety. In doing so, you incur a small cost — perhaps you will ruin your clothes with mud, perhaps you will damage your wallet and phone (which you don’t have time to pull from your pocket), perhaps you will be late to work. Given this, do you have a duty to save the child? Most of us would say yes, absolutely!

Something similar to this actually happened last year during a wedding photoshoot in Canada. (Photograph: Hatt Photography, Facebook)

What about a child in another country who is dying of a preventable disease, and whom we could save with a small donation? Do we have a duty to save them? Many people would say we don’t. But why not? There seems no good way to justify the difference.

Our relationship with the child? They are strangers in both cases. Nationality? It seems perverse to say that someone counts for less, morally, based on their nationality. Distance? To discriminate based on distance is no better than discriminating based on nationality. Our emotional reaction to the child? We may feel our heartstrings pulled more forcefully by the child drowning in front of us and be more likely to help, but what we are more likely to do has no bearing on what we should do, and it would be absurd to think that we don’t have a moral obligation to help based on what we feel like doing. What of the fact that, in the second case, there are others who are failing to help too? So what — if there were others standing by and ignoring the drowning child, that surely cannot make it okay to stand by as well.

In short, there seems to be no justifiable way of separating the cases. If we have a duty to save a child drowning in front of us, at some minor cost to ourselves, then we also have a duty to save those elsewhere in the world when we can do so at similarly low cost.

It is not just us as individuals but also governments who have this duty — especially when governments control large amounts of surplus resources, when they can often run more cost-effective health programmes due to economies of scale, and when there is the additional goal of redressing the injustice of how resources are distributed among countries.

What, then, should we think of T’Challa, the titular Black Panther, who becomes king of the wealthiest and most technologically advanced nation on Earth, and continues to do nothing to aid those who were unlucky enough to be born elsewhere? (Minor spoiler:) Admittedly, at the end of the film he did at last get involved in international affairs, but he certainly took his time deciding. His decision also seemed due largely to guilt over how the film’s antagonist was treated, and the urging of his romantic interest, Nakia (who shows far greater compassion than he does). He showed no remorse over the tens of thousands who died while he was still making up his mind, nor did he show any great regret over the billions of unnecessary deaths his country allowed to happen over the past hundred years. (Another minor spoiler:) In a particularly jarring moment, he railed against his father’s ghost for his mistreatment of a single child, but does not blame him for letting billions of others die.

Of course, moviegoers thoroughly enjoyed Black Panther. It was a ‘marvel’ of a film, and light-years ahead of other superhero movies in its representation of people of colour and of the world’s second largest continent. This makes it particularly disappointing that Marvel allowed its African utopia to be a moral failure, just as callous as Western nations have been at their very worst. We mustn’t idolise the isolationist Wakanda as a paradise free from the troubles of modernity, even if it is tempting to do so. The tragedies and horrors of our world are still there; they’re simply out of view. Worst of all, in this setting, they could have been prevented.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Hayden is a Researcher at the University of Oxford and PhD Candidate at the Australian National University. His research focuses on ethics and decision theory. @HaydenWilko

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  1. I enjoyed it, but it’s not a film I’d rush to watch again. I thought the diversity was great (in fact I felt the female characters were incredibly refreshing and the stars of the film) but that in itself doesn’t make a great film.

  2. I’m 59 and I read comic-books from the late-sixties until 1979. I stopped reading them, with some reluctance, because I was about to get out of the army and start college and it was time to move on. I read Black Panther and enjoyed it. I don’t remember any “read between the lines” racial messages (although I wasn’t looking for them). He was just a superhero who happened to be black.

    Some black people are telling each other that fictional Wakanda is what Africans would’ve achieved if not for colonialism & slavery. Frankly, that’s preposterous. According to one source, when Europeans first arrived in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1400s not one tribe had a written language or was even using the wheel-and-axle; not one building had a second story. How accurate that is may depend on where you draw the line delineating sub-Saharan Africa but even if there were one or two exceptions, like Timbuktu and Ethiopia, that doesn’t disprove the larger point.

    I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade. If black parents & leaders use Black Panther as an illustration of what can be achieved if you apply yourself in school, work, obey the law and take responsibility for the children you bring into this world that would be a very good thing. If they use it to perpetuate the victim-mentality and fan the flames of identity politics then as a message-movie it will have failed.

    • Yes, even given “vibranium” it’s extremely unlikely an African tribe would have developed science as we know it and advanced technology. In the real world, science arose indigenously only in the Christian West and in the West only after it had been Christian for a millennium or so. That’s no coincidence. Christianity posits a God who created a universe with its own causal powers that operate in an orderly fashion, and He created human reason with the capacity to comprehend that order. And since He is a covenental God, we can depend on the stability of that order. Every other culture on earth up to modern times has seen the workings of nature as determined by either an inscrutable God who could easily change His mind from moment to moment or the chaotic interactions of capricious anthropomorphic gods or animist living objects. Gnu atheists to the contrary notwithstanding, the origin of science was in studying the creation to better know the creator. None of that is politically correct, but the truth almost never is.

    • Jim Walsh

      “According to one source, when Europeans first arrived in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1400s not one tribe had a written language or was even using the wheel-and-axle; not one building had a second story.”

      One source.

      Remember that the victor, either war or colonial imperialism, gets to write the history books.

  3. bernard

    Good movie. Maybe not quite living up to the hype, but still good. It would have been ruined if the social themes didn’t mesh well with story line or were not true to the original comic. Fortunately, unlike with some franchises (Star Wars for example), Disney/Marvell opted to go with a director who had actually loved the original Black Panther comic books as a kid and knew how NOT TO ruin them with incongruous social justice material. The film is full of social justice material, but it meshed well. The Black Panther character itself was also very charismatic in the movie.

  4. Really ironic. Considering that the Afrocentrists are decidedly pro-capitalism, but the Oakland Black Panthers, and other such organizations elsewhere, where decidedly socialist or even Maoist.

  5. Just a friendly note to everyone. Social conscience underpins most Marvel productions. It didn’t start suddenly with Black Panther just because the protagonists were mainly African.

  6. Interesting that the original Black Panther of 1966 was created by two Jews. The original villain was not Killmonger but the son of a German Nazi, Ulysses Klaue, and there was a Jewish mixed race “buddy” character. The Black Panther, in other words, was originally a Jewish-conceived vehicle for promoting the black-Jewish alliance that was so useful to organized Jewry in its ultimately successful campaign to overthrow the WASPocracy.

    It was only in 1973 that Killmonger came on the scene. By that point, the real Black Panthers and other radical groups had started to scare the Jewish establishment that had wet-nursed them. Killmonger represented the frightening excesses of black nationalism/radicalism from a Jewish point of view.

    In the movie, the Nazi-ish white villain, Klaue, is combined with a secondary white villain, Anton Pretorius. The film keeps the Klaue name, but the character is clearly meant to be an Afrikaner and speaks with a pronounced Afrikaans accent. He becomes the personification of “white racism.”

    Wakanda seems to be based in part on the history of the real country of Ethiopia, which, alone in Africa, remained free from European imperial control (with the exception of the years 1935-41.) But the problem is that Ethiopia never developed any great technologies of its own. And while better run than some other African “shitholes,” it is basically a repressive, violent, overpopulated mess little different from sub-Saharan Africa in general.

    Fantasy is a huge and growing genre for film and books. People prefer, more and more, to escape the world in their free time rather than to study or engage with it. I guess I can’t really blame them. Ultimately, The Black Panther is a fantasy film that will not change the condition of blacks either in Africa itself or in the diaspora. It is merely a chance for a target audience and all those others drawn by curiosity to sit in the darkness for two and a half hours and dream of some other better world.

  7. It was elevated by a well realised and empathetic villain in Michael B Jordan.

    Other than that it is an average outing in the MCU.

    Finale at the end felt a bit small and domestic – like the fields of Rohan in LOTR.

    Should build a better sequel though.

  8. Etsukik

    I am stunned at the critical opinion if this film, admittedly I have no interest or personal investment in MCU films but it doesn’t stop me enjoying the likes of GOTG or Ragnarok, this however was yet another run of the film origins story. It was perfectly fine but in the end left me rather bored and waiting for it wrap up in all the predictable ways. Boseman however was good and gives a much needed subtlety and nuance to a rather bland stereotypical role.

  9. I thought it was insulting to black people, not liberating.

  10. I do not understand why this film is so lauded.

    It is VERY ordinary in my opinion.

    I know some people will not like what I say but I think the only reason for its praise – just like the other equally much-praised Get Out – is the fact that it was a film made and starring predominantly people of colour.

    But this cannot be a reason why a film is good or not – it is irrelevant in terms of the film itself. This film was nothing new or innovative, was thoroughly predictable and full of cardboard cut-out characters.

    if it was made without the ‘Black issue’ then I do not believe either this or Get Out would have received anything like the attention & praise that they have. As it is I believe critics and the film business were and are terrified of a backlash should they say anything negative about it.

    • Pa Donald

      I was with you until the final paragraph.

    • I think both films are praised not just because of casting choices and the race of the directors, but because the blending of social issues with the plot was done well without being patronizing or overbearing. The films both acknowledge past injustices without playing into the victim mentality. In Get Out, Chris is the victim but must use his own force of will to escape the Armitage family’s house. He escapes from his (heavy handed) bondage and isn’t helped not from a historically apologetic white policeman officer, but a fellow black man helping out a friend no one we would would listen. Black Panther has a similar message revolving around lost identity of a forgotten son and the realization that black people with means can helping elevate other black people from poverty and ignorance through education and learning.

      Both films speak to the black identity and serve as a call for greater fraternity and mutual support from the black community

  11. I took my kids to see it in South London where I was literally the only white person in the audience. It was a strange, initially uncomfortable but ultimately rather wonderful experience. I think my views on the film were changed by the realisation that for most of the audience I was experiencing a feeling that they are used to and they were experiencing something I took for granted. It was a joyous whooping and hollering afternoon. I loved the film and the experience.

  12. Carroll

    The less said about the rules of Wakandan succession, the better. A super-advanced civilisation, where the ruler is the best one at winning a fight, with no checks and balances whatsoever? I’m OK with the invisible country in Africa thing, but I’m not having that. Every time the king starts looking poorly, the population must be absolutely bricking it.

  13. I thought this film was crap. A lot of the Marvel movies are fun to sit through but this was so boring. I liked the bit at the beginning set in 1992 because it made me laugh but apart from that it’s just two more hours of generic stuff.

    A similar thing happened with the Wolverine movie Logan the other year. I was really looking forward to that one but I thought that was a bit shit as well. At least it was better than Black Panther.

  14. Bryanna

    I found it quite interesting, Kilmonger as an African-American coming “home” to a culture he doesn’t understand and doesn’t belong to (i.e. the savannah scene with his dad) and promptly destroying it to further his own imperialistic designs. This reflects the film-making itself, which merged various African cultures together to make a patische “pan-African” wakanda that looks suitably Africany to African-American audiences, in order to sell a film and make money.

    I find myself wondering if this theme was intentional, considering how deeply it runs throughout the movie, and why no one in the press picked up on it.

    • As a black person, I found the movie entertaining from the superficial level, but from a deeper perspective, it was somewhat gut wrenching. Fortunately that part of it wasn’t didactic so it didn’t take away from the entertainment value of the movie.

  15. Elly Hargis

    I thought it was actually a bit mocking of Africa. It only has Wakanda as advanced because a special meteor landed there, then has those people act quite primitively in how they choose to be governed.
    The slap a load of cliches all over it – bright cloths, rhinos, hammed up Zamunda accents.

    It was a good film, entertaining, and great there was a majority black cast and director, hope they get more opportunities. But I don`t think the film itself is especially empowering for black people any more than Thor is for Scandanavians.

    • Absolutely correct. I hated the colourful clothes, the weapons that looked like spears (really ??) the rhinos, the leader chosen by fighting (what – no democracy?) and worst of all the faux African accents.

      Far from being empowering, I thought that it insulted black people/

  16. Loved it. Not a massive fan of superhero films, but this one, I did enjoy.

  17. Mitsuko

    It’s a decently entertaining popcorn film with some good art driection but nothing more.

    I know I wasn’t the only person to actually find its politics fairly disturbing when you break them down. There’s a fairly direct comparison that can be made of the actions taken by the hero – i.e. collaborating with the CIA to overthrow Killmonger, who like it or not made himself the rightful ruler fair and square – to Mobutu in the Congo in the 60s.

    They made the villain gratuitously violent and ‘thuggish’ to discredit his genuine greivances about the treatment of black people under white supremacist capitalism.

    Also, I thought it was pretty disgusting that they chose to link the real-life movement attempting to repatriate museum artifacts to their land of origin, to violent terrorism. I wonder how many Disney executives are patrons or on the board of Museums that are currently under pressure to return the exhibits they stole?

  18. Joseph Cernik
    Joseph Cernik

    A good essay. The issue raised of an obligation to help provides an interesting insight.

  19. Wonderful piece.

  20. I really enjoyed it, and then it became incredibly and shockingly brave.

  21. Are we to believe that Wakanda could have easily saved those of the African Diaspora around the world so easily?

    And are we to dismiss the struggles of African Diaspora from the past four to five centuries in order to look toward one nation as some kind of “savior” trope?

  22. j

    Great article! Loved how you analyzed the film in a different angle and focused on the negative aspects of isolationism. You did a great job at connecting the film to our real world and emphasizing the importance of helping others in need.

  23. When a beautiful and fantastic(al) film is completely unbelievable (duh, its a super-hero movie) the main value of an article like this one is to provoke…
    thinking about bigger issues than those one might have contemplated while being so thoroughly entertained.

  24. Yvonne Tapia
    Yvonne T.

    I think it is awesome you pointed out the morals behind Black Panther, and whether or not it should really be praised. I think T’Challa should definitely help other countries in need, but at the same time one can see why he would not want to get involved. Other countries’ leaders would be sure to retaliate. It it an never-ending question whether it is for better or worse to involve yourself in others’ matters.

  25. Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

    Thank you for discussing this I too found this an interesting aspect of the story – which I also loved as it provide depth and complexity to what could have just been a stereotyped “fantasy land”

  26. M. L. Flood

    This is a very intriguing look at the moral conflicts of the movie, and the subject is very well thought out and researched. Your information is thorough and well put together; this was very enjoyable to read!

    I am a huge Marvel fan and “Black Panther” is one of my favorite movies in the franchise. I think when it comes to T’Challa’s morality, it’s important to remember the comic books. When he first appeared in “Fantastic Four” #52 (1966) he confronted this moral conflict and decided the Black Panther’s powers would be better used for humanitarian efforts. He left Wakanda, joined the Avengers (1968), and became the Black Leopard. He didn’t return to Wakanda until 1973. Yes, the movie deviates, condenses, and changes T’Challa’s story. Although Wakanda does resist embracing these humanitarian efforts at first, by the end of the film they set in motion humanitarian works with the rest of the world. I think it’s important to remember that T’Challa’s origin is not set in the movie, but in the comics, and has a different development.

  27. Gliese436B

    This was a very interesting read, well-exploring and discusses a lot of key social and cultural issues, well done.

  28. hazalse

    Black Panther is one movie that reveals an enormous amount of references the more you look at it. I am currently doing research as part of cultural studies. I really appreciated your article.

  29. I enjoyed Black Panther and thought the female leads were the most impowering leads we have seen in a while, now is Captain Marvel. This film gave a lot of hope to many young African Americans out there and made them feel like they can accomplish anything as their story was finally being told.

  30. I enjoyed Black Panther and thought the female leads were the most empowering leads we have seen in a while, now is Captain Marvel. This film gave a lot of hope to many young African Americans out there and made them feel like they can accomplish anything as their story was finally being told.

  31. This is the core conflict of the movie. Killmonger wanted to use the resources of Wakanda to help people. But if he’d gotten his way, many people would have died, including many Caucasians who did not actively contribute to institutional racism.
    As you mentioned, when Black Panther was created, America was grappling with the morality of getting involved in the Vietnam War. We gave resources to people who didn’t have them, and we regretted it. Wakanda didn’t want to repeat that.
    You are right about the humanitarian issues of the movie, but the answer is not complaining that the governments of first-world nations should do more. Everyone who feels like people need help is capable of helping those people themselves. Many churches are full of people who choose generosity over selfishness, and their combined efforts form a movement that makes a difference in the world.

  32. Pamela Maria

    Excellent writing and very thought-provoking. I think an analysis of this film is an excellent way to address moral ethics since its epic Black cast helps to defamiliarize “normal” Western behaviour that viewers are accustomed too.

  33. I believe T’Challa’s choice at the start of the film to not share Wakanda’s wealth and technologies was a comment on the sense of community and nationalism that is present in the world that has negative connotations. Because it certainly can have negative connotations onto the rest of the world. This is why many push for a sense of community in the world as a whole. One of the main principles of community is protection of that community and the safest approach would be to preserve what the community has.

  34. Now, I realize that this movie disappointed some fans due to the lack of a lot of action happening throughout the film, unlike other MCU films, however, I think that what makes a great movie, regardless of genre, isn’t necessarily the action, or how the actors look, but character, and this movie delivers. T’Challa was a great protagonist with relate ability, and likability that stayed consistent with what we saw in Civil War, and built upon it. I liked all of the other characters, including T’Challa’s sister and his ex-girlfriend. Killmonger is the main villain of the film, and deserves credit for his simpathy for others of his race who’ve suffered discrimination from Eurpeans through history up to the present.

  35. Liam J. Blackley

    I loved how this film didn’t try to say that all the world’s problems could be eliminated by getting rid of white imperialists. Wakanda still has its own problems. I especially loved one line where Martin Freeman’s character goes to Wakanda (being the first white man there is a very long time) and is immediately labeled “colonist” by the smartest character in the Marvel’s universe. The movie is stating that racism isn’t an issue that is caused by white people. Killmonger’s plan is very imperialist, planning to conquer all white nations by staging a popular black revolution. Seeing all these familiar themes played out by a black cast really cast new light on them, because they felt fresh but still relatable. The country’s conservative attitude with the isolationism also ties in to this, because it is showing Wakanda as socially outdated but technologically ahead.

  36. Your emphasis on Wakanda’s isolationist ways of being is an interesting thing to focus on. While part of me viewed it mostly as a plot device to explain why Wakanda hadn’t largely affected how the world developed within its history as a technologically advanced country, it is a thing we have to examine independent of the “it’s just a movie” ideology. That said, I understand and recognize the reasoning of the Wakandans. Their allegiance wasn’t based in race, it was based in tribes and nationality. This makes me think of the Native Americans who weren’t necessarily friends with other Native American groups simply because they were from a similar spot on the map. We have to remember that race is and always has been a social construct. There’s no biological evidence that race exists, that’s just basic anthropology. So viewing Wakanda simply as a government that chose to protect its national interests rather than help others and endanger their own inhabitants, I get it. Their allegiance was to their people rather than to the world, and while it can be viewed as selfish or even lacking in morality one must recognize that what is moral is subjective. Nothing is so simple as good and bad, but rather we live in the distinct gray area called human life.

  37. I was sort of under the impression that Wakanda seeming isolationist and preoccupied with its own affairs at the beginning was the point. The characters talk over and over again about how the leaders in Wakanda don’t always live up to their responsibilities, either to their own people (i.e., T’Challa’s father and uncle) or the world at large (hence why Nakia(?) feels she has to go and assist refugees from other countries herself).

  38. In terms of the film, I think it easily addresses the problems of isolationism you’ve discussed as one of the major themes. The scene in which T’Challa confronts his father and the rest of the ancestors, he not only scolds his father for abandoning Killmonger as a child but calls out all of his ancestors for the generational fear that led to Wakanda ignoring the needy.

    The introduction of Killmonger into T’Challa’s life (as well as Nakia back into his life) was the catalyst for recognizing the problem on a wider scale. Killmonger understood the wrong in isolating yourself and took action to help the people he saw were suffering, but for him, that meant hurting anyone that stood in his way. Nakia saw how to help the needy the right way, but, at the time, that meant separating herself from the rest of Wakanda. T’Challa is the combination of both of these thoughts, using Wakanda’s resources to help those in need, not through fear, but through communication and brotherhood.

    Though the film has its flaws, I don’t think Black Panther’s take on isolationism was one of them. Not only did it explain why some may want to believe in isolation, mostly equating it to fear and self-conservation, but through T’Challa’s arc, the film explores what it takes to break the generations of fear, what can go wrong if we don’t, and what can happen when we do.

  39. In the beginning of the film black panther come to the rescue of victims of human trafficking in his own country. Later on in the film, when I thought back to this scene, i think it was horrifying. Because he knowingly keep his people in hell just to keep up pretences for saving himself and the people in Wakanda. Its so unfair.

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