I found the issue of Power to have been dealt with in a strange way in “Black Panther”.
While watching the film and maintaining a mental database of continuity, I decided to forget that category altogether and chalk it up to “suspension of disbelief”:
The term suspension of disbelief or willing suspension of disbelief has been defined as a willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and believe something surreal; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment.
I had to read this page syfy.com/syfywire/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-tribes-of-black-panthers-wakanda to get my ideas together for this article, as much of this wasn’t made clear in the film, either because it wasn’t relevant to the main issues or it landed on the cutting room floor to get the film down to two hours and fifteen minutes TRT.
Vibranium was first deposited in Wakanda by a meteorite 10,000 years ago, and absorbs sound waves and other vibrations, including kinetic energy. Absorbing sound waves, vibrations, and kinetic energy makes this metal stronger.
The powers of the person who is the Black Panther are derived from the Heart-Shaped Herb that was exposed to Vibranium radiation.
Also, according to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vibranium#Wakandan_variety, its radiation has also permeated much of Wakanda’s flora & fauna, including the flesh of the White Gorilla eaten by the members of the White Gorilla Cult, which we can assume to be M’Baku, but would have ruined his “vegetarian” snap on Ross in the film.
Vibranium seems to be the source of Wakanda’s wealth, prowess, and technology.
For some reason in the film they’re sending spies, the War Dogs, all over the world to spy on I don’t know what. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
If I had had spaceships and cloaking devices and underground cities and magnetized railways and the ability to virtually drive vehicles and and and and and and and, I wouldn’t give the first damn what anybody else in the world was doing because if the caused a problem, I could just vaporize them. 😀
In fact, in the final battle of the film, this is what N’Jadaka is trying to do.
In the comic book version, N’Jadaka’s father was found to be treacherous, so his entire family was excommunicated.
In the film version, N’Jadaka’s father, for some odd reason I certainly can’t fathom, as he was the brother of the king, was a War Dog spying on America and stationed in Oakland, California.
It already doesn’t make sense to me that N’Jadaka’s father would have already been incredibly rich, yet still going on dangerous missions like being stationed in a ghetto slum for some odd reason to spy on people with inferior technology and zero ability to harm Wakanda because they can’t even SEE Wakanda because of the cloaking devices that make the entire kingdom appear to be a deprived African area.
So in the final battle in the film version, N’Jadaka is trying to fulfill his father’s idea of arming all of the oppressed people so they can overthrow their oppressors.
This is when Shuri enables Ross to remotely fly a plane that destroys the planes with the Vibranium weapons on them.
So if disseminating those weapons would have changed the balance of power, Wakanda could have done that at any time during their history as soon as they got up to speed with technology.
However, the goal of Wakanda was hiding. Isolationism. I discussed this in the “Us & Them” section of billcammack.com/2018/02/19/black-panther-film-discussion-part-02-blacks-africans/.
Wakandans didn’t really give a damn about what was happening to anybody else in the world who wasn’t Wakandan, including Africans and American blacks.
N’Jadaka was different, though, because a) his father was interested in the plight of American blacks, b) all of his friends he grew up with after his father was killed and he was stranded in the slums of Oakland were American blacks, and c) according to the film version, N’Jadaka had never seen Wakanda, which means that his mother had to be American, or at least not Wakandan, though we can assume she was an Oakland local, as that’s where his father was stationed as a spy.
So amongst other things, N’Jadaka was mad that Wakanda wasn’t utilizing it’s prowess to force change on oppressive situations because the oppression was occurring to HIS people and not THEIR people, being that he was only half-Wakandan.
You. Had. One. Job.
Besides wanting to avenge his father’s death, N’Jadaka wanted to take over Wakanda so he could use their resources to destroy all the people he felt should be destroyed.
Somehow in the film, he’s telling Klaue to take him to Wakanda but then kills Klaue (and his own girlfriend in the process), and still makes it to Wakanda anyway. o_O
I guess Klaue had a map in his pocket. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
When he gets there, he demands a challenge for leadership.
This was most likely the most perplexing element of power in the film. 😀
According to syfy.com/syfywire/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-tribes-of-black-panthers-wakanda, the challenge for leadership comes up every single year.
This doesn’t make any sense, as in the film, T’Challa’s father had been king for like forever.
Also, T’Challa’s father was old as dirt, and owed Moses a quarter from the good ol’ days.
How could it be possible that a physical challenge happens every year, and T’Challa’s father remained king until he was killed in “Captain America: Civil War”?
As you can see, T’Challa was already Black Panther at the time of his father’s murder.
The comic book version makes MUCH more sense:
The time came when the great king fell. Ulysses S. Klaw was a Dutch scientist who coveted the Vibranium resources of Wakanda. His ancestor Klaue tried to assault Wakanda in the 19th century and failed, but Klaw received intel from Strucker and Hydra guiding him to Wakanda’s walls. Using mercenaries and his own sonic technology, Klaw attacked the country and T’Chaka rode out to meet him. T’Chaka was killed in the struggle that followed, but Klaw was disarmed by the mighty warrior Zuri and young prince T’Challa drove him off with his own weapon.
Upon his death his brother S’yan ruled in his steed until his son T’Challa was old enough to take the throne.It took many years before his son could get revenge on his fathers killer.
In the comic version, T’Challa became Black Panther when he was physically able to wrest control of Wakanda from his uncle.
In the film version, his uncle died like before the beginning credits were finished, and was never a Wakandan ruler.
So we have to assume that at some point, T’Challa’s father abdicated, and T’Challa was most likely HANDED Black Panther status instead of having to fight for it.
It wouldn’t make sense for T’Challa’s father to still be the king, yet take the chance that someone not in his bloodline was the protector of Wakanda.. Although Okoye was protecting T’Challa, so pretty much SHE was the protector of Wakanda. o_O
So let’s assume that T’Challa had been given Black Panther status and nobody had challenged him out of respect to his father, who was still the king until “Captain America: Civil War”.
That would have made this challenge actually the first challenge, not an annual challenge.
M’Baku steps up and somehow loses this fight.
According to the comic version, M’Baku would have had Black Pantherish powers because of consuming the irradiated flesh of the White Gorilla.
This would have meant that draining T’Challa of the Black Panther powers would have resulted in an easy win for M’Baku.
Instead, the film decided to have them fight one-on-one, which is patently ridiculous. 😀
As far as I remember, there was not one single scene where T’Challa was working out or training in combat.
Let’s say there was ONE scene of that.
That doesn’t make any sense if the way you can lose control OF THE ENTIRE COUNTRY… EVERY SINGLE YEAR… is if you lose one fight to some dude.
T’Challa’s ONLY JOB should have been to maintain his status as the best fighter possible WITHOUT the Black Panther powers.
There is NO WAY his fight with M’Baku should have been that close, and no way N’Jadaka should have kicked his ass so easily and effortlessly.
That’s like putting money in a bank vault and leaving it unlocked.
Also, the yearly challenge had already occurred, and T’Challa made an exception when he found out he had a cousin.
Can he even do that? 😀
If you can say you’re going to have challenges whenever you want, you can say the next challenge won’t occur for the next five years, or never.
We see this when N’Jadaka tells them to burn all of the herbs that create Black Panthers.
The people are like “We can’t do that” and he’s like “I said to do it and I’m the ruler” so they did it instead of getting killed by him and the herbs being burned anyway.
So there are no checks and balances AT ALL against someone taking over the entire kingdom by winning a physical fight. 😀
Loyalty To What? o_O
This leads to an interesting exchange where I think Nakia tells Okoye look we’ve got to get this Killmonger dude TF up outta here, and Okoye says she’s loyal to Wakanda.
ok. That’s valiant and respectable and all that, but what IS Wakanda? o_O
Is Wakanda the heritage and understanding that y’all have all been through for the past 10,000 years since Vibranium arrived?
Or is Wakanda some dude that has the same blood as you, but none of the heritage, and none of the culture?
How TF are you going to follow some dude that you just met like YESTERDAY because he won a physical fight?
If N’Jadaka had been part of the culture, he would have deserved an opportunity just like M’Baku did.
Except WTF was M’Baku going to do as king? 😀 haha He’s a warrior, not a king. He might be king of the warriors, but that’s an entirely different job.
In fact, when they offered M’Baku the last herb, instead of taking it, he informed them that T’Challa was still alive, and they should give it to him.
This is another breaking of 10,000 years of customs because now there are TWO Black Panthers.
In fact, if you can do that, how come they didn’t have SEVERAL BLACK PANTHERS THE ENTIRE TIME??? o_O
So are you loyal to the people of Wakanda, or are you loyal to the idea of Wakanda?
I respect Okoye for doing her duty, but her duty was based on nonsense.
They ended up having their own brief Wakandan Civil War because of this.
In fact, Okoye’s boyfriend, Get Out was fighting against her.
I wonder how much ***HE*** had to work to get back in after THAT fiasco! 😀 HAHAHAHAHA
“You tried to run me over WITH A RHINO!”
“Well… You see….. What had HAPPENED was….”
The Spirit Plane
I also didn’t get what effect going into the spirit plane had in N’Jadaka’s case. More suspension of disbelief there.
When T’Challa goes into the spirit plane… TWICE… He sees previous Black Panthers, *not* his ancestors.
Even if his ancestors WERE the previous Black Panthers, they’re the only ones there. His entire ancestry isn’t there, AND the first time you see them they’re actual panthers. The second time, they’re humans.
When N’Jadaka goes to the spirit plane, he sees his father.
His father was *NEVER* a Black Panther, according to the film.
According to the comic book, his father WAS the Black Panther until T’Challa defeated him and took the throne.
In fact, when N’Jadaka went to the spirit plane, he should have seen NOBODY, or he should have seen the same set of previous Black Panthers that T’Challa saw.
Also, T’Challa was having a conversation in real-time with his father, as an adult.
N’Jadaka seemed to be in a flashback, as he was a child discovering his father’s dead body and holding the book of information about Wakanda.
All that aside, the points of the scenes were properly made, which was that T’Challa was fighting for his heritage and N’Jadaka was fighting for his father and himself and that’s it.
This is another reason why power shouldn’t have been turned over to N’Jadaka. He wasn’t interested in or connected to ANYTHING about Wakanda and had an entirely different agenda.
It’s like that movie where a foreign country installs an American President who makes a daily ass of himself and drags the reputation of the USA into the mud with him on purpose, while stealing as many American resources as he can before he’s found out.
Ross (Bilbo Baggins) was obviously a token character.
I’m glad he was in the film and he played his part well, but he seemed to be utilized mainly as a representative of a point of view other than Wakandan Africans and American blacks.
The power he had in the film was being an ace fighter pilot.
The power he thought he had was interesting, when he was telling T’Challa how things were going to happen and poked him and almost got his block knocked off by Okoye.
Right after that demonstration of Ross’ lack of power, N’Jadaka blasted through the wall of the precinct, saved Klaue, shot Ross almost to death when he dove to protect Nakia, and bounced.
So Ross had no power against the good guys and he had no power against the bad guys.
And then the good guys save his life.
And then he gets chumped off by M’Baku with the “vegetarian” snap.
He DEFINITELY displays valor when he stays in the pocket when he’s under fire while piloting the virtual plane. Propers for that! 😀
It’s possible that Ross’ ultimate use in the film is as a liaison between Wakanda and wherever else, as he’s aware of Wakanda’s secrets and can speak for them without spilling the beans and he’ll have the clout of an American operative when he speaks.
I forgot.. He was completely ineffective in the casino scene.
Perhaps Ross’ lack of power was the point, making the actual superheroes’ powers clear in comparison.
In the casino, Ross had a gun and a briefcase. Meanwhile, Okoye dispatched quite a few gun-toting perps extremely easily with her spear.
Nobody knows where Ross even WAS when the team was chasing Klaue in South Korea.
It’s kind of like it’s nice you think you have power, but you actually don’t. 😀
Having said that, Ross’ character was also utilized to demonstrate unity.
As much as Wakandans are clearly “us” versus “them” (“them” being anybody who isn’t Wakandan), they’re also willing to forge alliances with people like Ross and Bucky Barnes.
We’ll get to this in the “messaging” part of this series, as it’s a complex interaction for T’Challa to side with Ross & other “Colonizers” and fight against N’Jadaka’s plan to turn the tables and wipe them off the face of the Earth with Wakandan Vibranium weaponry.
Defenders Of The Faith
M’Baku’s character was interesting because although he challenged T’Challa for the throne, he ended up being the most loyal to the spirit of Wakanda.
N’Jadaka never had it in the first place, and Okoye sided with the rules over the spirit of the kingdom.
In the comic book version, all of that happened differently, which leads to creative decision-making as far as the film plot.
M’Baku apparently rejected the technology aspect of Wakanda and adhered to its original tribal format.
He and his crew were strong, whether we’re going to attribute that to the White Gorilla or not, and they were loyal to the people who mattered.
I don’t think he should have challenged for the throne because his only use was within Wakanda.
T’Challa on the other hand is a diplomat who has learned from his father who was a diplomat as well.
You can’t have M’Baku addressing the United Nations. 😀 hahaha
Having said that, I don’t know what the purpose of warriors was in Wakanda as they seemed to have a clearly defined border between “us” and “them”.
All of the surrounding areas would have been brutally subdued thousands of years ago in order to keep the border peaceful.
There also wouldn’t have been a reason for outsiders to attempt to attack Wakanda because it was cloaked and nobody knew they had anything but dirt.
Similar to Ross’ character, M’Baku probably represented a concept, such as you may be a brute, but we honor and respect you as a valued member of our society even though you can’t move in the outside world the way we do.
We’ll get to that in the “messaging” section as well. 😀
Gross Domestic Product?
As far as the power of money or commerce, I have no idea what Wakanda’s economy is.
Supposedly, Vibranium costs $10,000 per gram, and Captain America’s shield is mostly made out of Vibranium.
So maybe they’re selling small amounts of Vibranium for googobs of money to responsible users.
I can also see them using Shuri’s technology to create devices that don’t include Vibranium, but are valuable to other countries and sold through a shell corporation so they aren’t aware that the source is Wakanda.
Generally, however, I don’t understand how their economy works unless they’re so rich at this point that they don’t need an economy and everyone within their kingdom is supported by a UBI:
A basic income (also called basic income guarantee, citizen’s income, unconditional basic income, universal basic income (UBI), basic living stipend (BLS) or universal demogrant) is typically a form of social security or welfare regime, in which all citizens (or permanent residents) of a country receive a regular, liveable and unconditional sum of money, from the government. The recipient is not required to work or look for work, and the payment is given independent of any other income.
Personally, I think it was just left out of the film entirely, as how Wakanda remains afloat isn’t really important because if they wanted to, they have the technology to take whatever they want from whomever they want at any time.
The fact that they’re isolationist instead of colonizers themselves indicates that they aren’t concerned with whatever wealth or lack thereof exists in other parts of the world.
In fact, I would have been happier with the War Dogs being distributed throughout the world as people running the companies selling Wakandan products than to imagine that they were spying on inferior countries who had no chance of attacking a kingdom they didn’t even know existed.
N’Jadaka’s father was killed specifically because he was trying to illegally distribute Vibranium.
It isn’t really important to the story, but I think it would have been valuable as far as images & inspiration to have shown how and why Wakanda was prosperous and give kids ideas about how to start and run their own businesses.
It also isn’t clear how since Wakandans are being portrayed to the world as a bunch of nobodies, why T’Challa’s father was speaking at the United Nations to begin with when he was murdered in “Captain America: Civil War”.
Was Wakanda a world power or not? o_O
I think that’s the main question because technologically they were, but they focused their resources on hiding instead of making a difference in the world, which is a large part of what spawned Killmonger to begin with.
Continued in “Black Panther” Film Discussion [Part 06: Origin]…