Posted on December 2, 2022

Wearisome Wakanda

Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, December 2, 2022


I’m tempted to make a joke about the new Wakanda’s greatest enemy being people who can swim, but I won’t. Wakanda Forever, the sequel to Black Panther, is pathetic. Literally. I pitied the actors, writers, and above all the movie-goers who apparently love this series. The black nationalism and anti-white scorn are mediocre. We should be thankful Disney and other conglomerates will never appeal to white identity in the same way. If this is how non-whites get self-esteem, you have to feel sorry for them.

Black Panther may have been hostile to whites, but at least there were real characters, a compelling story, and construction of a plausible world (at least for a comic-book movie.) This film needs almost three hours to work out its racial cliches. The film’s plot holes, pacing problems, and tedious exposition make you feel every minute. This must be the most boring movie I’ve ever seen.

Critics gave Black Panther overwhelmingly positive reviews, perhaps out of fear or political obligation. Wakanda Forever’s reviews are just as excited — I suspect it’s pure politics.

Wakanda Forever finds the mythical black superstate in mourning because King T’Challa, the Black Panther, is dead. Without T’Challa to fight it off, the rest of the world wants Wakanda’s “vibranium,” the metal that powers its weapons and technology.

Racial portrayals are heavy-handed. All whites are bad, with one exception, CIA Agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), who is tolerated because he betrays other whites. Wakanda and the pseudo-Mayan underwater kingdom of “Talokan” are the most powerful nations in the world, but the film also implies whites that want to reintroduce colonialism. This must be the way many non-whites think: Whites are weak and goofy but still oppress everyone.

The film may be falling back on cliches to fill the void left by the unexpected death of the star of the first Wakanda movie, Chadwick Boseman. The film begins and ends with tasteful tributes to Boseman that do not interrupt what little plot there is. It’s everything in between that is a wreck.

At the end of the first film, King T’Challa announced Wakanda would open to the world. The king rejected isolationist traditions and chose peaceful outreach instead of empire. His character had development.

In the new movie, that’s all gone. Instead, now-Queen Ramonda contemptuously tells the United Nations that Wakanda will not share vibranium. France, for some reason using “mercenaries” instead of soldiers, tries to steal the stuff, but Wakanda’s all-female (and bald) elite guard easily defeats the all-white band of thieves. Queen Ramonda parades the embarrassed French captives before the UN, and tells the world good luck finding vibranium.

Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda. Credit: MARVEL STUDIOS/WALT DISNEY PICTURES / Album

Americans find vibranium on the ocean floor, but they meet antagonist Namor, leader of a mythical Latinx sea kingdom, who leads his underwater forces against an American base, killing everyone. In a movie that spends a lot of time mourning Wakandan casualties, slaughtered white Americans get as much attention as dead mosquitos.

Tenoch Huerta as Namor. Credit: MARVEL STUDIOS/WALT DISNEY PICTURES / Album

Stupid American whites can’t even find vibranium by themselves. They need the young black female supergenius, Riri Williams, who built a vibranium-finding machine while still a student at MIT. She speaks Ebonics and ghetto slang, but she’s so smart her professors can’t keep up with her, and no one can even copy her machine. Wakanda didn’t need the machine; she invented it as a lark. “To be young, gifted, and black though, right?” she says.

Namor sneaks across Wakanda’s heavily guarded borders and tells Queen Ramonda she must find the person who designed the machine. It’s not clear why Namor thinks capturing or killing this person would stop other countries from looking for vibranium.

Shuri, the dead T’challa’s young sister, and elite woman warrior Okoye go to America and find the genius, who is disappointed she’s not being recruited to work for Wakanda. Instead, she’s to be taken to Wakanda to keep her safe. The FBI and local police try to catch the three women, but they escape. There is a chase with police cars being blown sky high, presumably killing everyone inside.

While hapless Americans can’t catch the three black heroes, Namor can. Leading his people on a whale, he captures Shuri and Riri Williams. Okoye escapes but returns to Wakanda empty-handed and in disgrace. She begs for a chance to die “serving my country and throne.”

Namor gives Shuri a tour of his underwater kingdom and explains his Latin American origins. Evil Spaniards brought smallpox and a “bigoted dogma,” which ruined his people. They took a drug made from a plant infused with vibranium, which turned them blue and gave them the powers to build a secret new kingdom beneath the sea. Since Namor’s mother was pregnant when she took the drug, Namor can operate both in the sea and on land. He can also fly and is practically immortal.

His people call him the “Feathered Serpent God,” the same title the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl held. The kingdom is called Talokun, a reference to the Aztec paradise Tlālōcān. If Wakanda is the idealized black kingdom, Talokun is the pan-Hispanic kingdom. The film spends a lot of time in this paradise, but it doesn’t match Wakanda. It’s just scenes of blue people swimming around, like a knock-off of Avatar.

When Namor’s mother died, he buried her in her native soil. There he found Spanish conquistadors whipping people. He dutifully slaughtered them all. He wants an alliance with Wakanda against the “surface people,” who are the white nations that have “conquered people for resources.” One suspects Shuri might be open to this, but Namor also wants Riri Williams dead so whites won’t be able to find vibranium. Williams is black, so Shuri can’t agree to that.

Back in Wakanda, the queen turns to T’Challa’s former girlfriend Nakia to rescue her daughter Shuri. Nakia rescues both Shuri and the black genius Williams, but kills some of Namor’s people. Namor unleashes a flood against Wakanda, destroying the capital and killing the queen. Namor says he’ll give Wakanda a week to reconsider his offer of alliance.

Luckily, Wakanda now has two young female super geniuses. Together, Shuri and Williams create an artificial version of the “heart shaped herb” that gave T’Challa, the original Black Panther, his power. Shuri takes it and gains its strength. Eager for vengeance, the new Black Panther rallies her nation for war.

Somehow, Shuri also has also become a skilled martial artist, but Actress Letitia Wright isn’t a credible action star. Led by this uninspiring champion, the film’s climax is a boring battle between two small groups. Despite supposedly being the “most powerful nation on Earth,” the Wakandan army has only a few technologically advanced airships and a few dozen warriors.

Angela Bassett and Letitia Wright in Wakanda Forever. Credit: MARVEL STUDIOS/WALT DISNEY PICTURES / Album

Somehow, Shuri overpowers Namor but spares him because she recognizes that both peoples just want to live in peace. Wakanda will protect the secret of Namor’s undersea kingdom. But what was the point of the war? Just to save Riri Williams? Were the deaths of many others (including the queen) a worthy sacrifice? If Wakanda is going to have an alliance with Namor, why fight at all?

There is a larger context. In the first movie, King T’Challa had the choice between his girlfriend Nakia’s peaceful outreach and Killmonger’s militarism. The king chose an open hand instead of closed fist. However, in Wakanda Forever, Wakanda lectures the rest of the world about its power, keeps the most valuable mineral in the world for itself, and sets up an alliance with a secret kingdom that claims sovereignty over the entire ocean so it can hoard vibranium. It launches violent missions against other countries.

Shuri does spare Namor’s life, but only because their two peoples are united against (white) colonialism. At the end of the movie, Namor says Wakanda will have to fight alongside Talokun, presumably against the West. We never see China, India, or other non-white powers looking for vibranium.

What about the United States? Agent Ross is a recurring white character, who work with Wakandans. He feeds them information, and helps them take away Riri Williams, though she’s the only person who can build the machine America needs.

It’s because he thinks Wakandans are better than Americans. “The Wakandans saved my life,” he says to his boss at one point. “They’re good people. . . . Ever thought what we would be doing if the U.S. was the only country in the world with vibranium?” His boss responds that she dreams about that — presumably world domination and exploitation. Eventually, Agent Ross is arrested for treason. Black Wakandan superwoman Okoye frees him — and kills a lot of white people while she’s at it — but not before laughing at him and calling him a “colonizer in chains.”

The racial marketing is clear. Hispanics now have a Marvel fantasyland, alongside blacks’ Wakanda and an Asians paradise in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. There’s no diversity in any of those places! They are true ethnostates. Whites have nothing of their own in the world of Marvel, and not even in Middle Earth in the new Amazon series. There are plenty of white characters, but no white settings, and main characters who used to be white are gradually being killed off or replaced with non-whites. If “representation” and “being seen” really matter, white children are being told they exist only as goofy weaklings who have no country, culture, or mythology.

In contrast, even the villain in Wakanda Forever is a triumph for Hispanics. The Spanish are demons and the Indians are angels. “[E]ven with his [Namor’s] miscalculations,” said Vox about Wakanda Forever, “it’s hard to walk away from watching the movie without sharing Namor’s sense of pride in what he has built for his people.” Can you imagine Vox saying that about any white character building something for “his people”?

The film ends with a brown-black alliance. Cruz Castillo of the National Hispanic Media Coalition wrote this about Wakanda Forever: “Black and brown communities going hand-in-hand, pulling one up and the other pulling the other, you know . . . . I think that’s the progress. I think it’s going to change everything.”

Star Tenoch Huerta Mejía, who plays Namor, has been complaining that Hispanic television is too white and that “Mexico looks on the TV like a Scandinavian country.” (Actually, Hispanic television has fewer Somalis.) Mr. Mejía is also promoting the idea that “America’s a continent” (instead of a country) and that “we’re all of us, we’re Americans.” (I predict that Americans calling themselves “Americans” will soon be considered offensive).

Where do whites fit into all this? Could we see an evil version of a whitetopia popping up so Namor and the new female Black Panther have someone to fight? Not likely. Even an implicit white identity, like being American, is no good. When Marvel began with The Avengers in 2012, the United States military didn’t cooperate because the heroes — not even Captain America — were fighting for America. They fought for a shadowy international organization. Wakandans, of course, fight bravely for the all-black nation they love. And when Queen Ramonda berates the UN, it’s the first time I can remember a movie showing the General Assembly in a bad light.

We probably won’t see evil, fantasy all-white nations. Any collective white representation, even a negative one, might give whites the wrong idea. But Western countries with white politicians, soldiers, and bureaucrats will no doubt be the Black Panther’s next enemy. She can slaughter individual whites, but there can never be a “white country,” no matter how evil.

What’s the effect of Black Panther on blacks? Much as it may thrill them, it’s the same phony, lap-dog “black nationalism” of Keith Ellison, Hank Johnson, and the later Malcolm X. It’s all part of the system, sustained by white guilt and white money. When blacks buy a movie ticket from Disney, it’s hardly a blow for autonomy. If black nationalists weren’t too busy screaming “Wakanda Forever!” they would be insulted that Big Mouse is making millions on non-white racial fantasy.

There can never be a movieland white identity. A plausible white villain could always become an antihero. We can feel sorry for blacks, Hispanics, and other groups searching for meaning at the movie theater. Disney and other corporate media can’t deal with our identity because our movement is serious — a threat in the way nothing else is. Non-white nationalism is bread and circuses to keep the rabble calm. Our culture is not a costume; you can buy a Black Panther mask at Walmart.

Racially conscious whites work towards something new in the real word. Black (and now Hispanic) children are getting their self-esteem from fantasy that only highlights real-world failures. Why can’t blacks build Wakanda?

White identity can’t be turned into a grift, a marketing scam, or cheap entertainment. We pay a high price for what we do, and that makes our movement real. Modern “civil rights activism” is a farce.

In Wakanda Forever, non-whites have become a consumer market tapped at will. It is harder to get whites to think collectively, but that will lead to greatness in the real world. We don’t need to invent heroism or accomplishment.