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On Minorities, Comics, and Film


Speaking of pre-colonial Africa, it pisses me off to no end that in the discussion about Marvel making a Black Panther movie, people (mostly white) keep talking about how “unrealistic” it would be for there to be a remote advanced African civilization. Aside from how insulting it is to imply that the Norse gods are actual beings from another dimension is more realistic, it completely ignores the numerous prosperous African empires and kingdoms of the past

But these same people have no problem with the idea that, in the DC universe, the most advanced civilization in Africa is a nation of simians.

I said this before and it remains true: The more race, semiotic, feminist, and queer theory I read and digest, the less I enjoy mainstream comic books and the conventions/institutions behind them.

Here’s a thing that me and Son of Baldwin talked about.

I’m no grand expert on pre-colonial (sub-Saharan) African empires or anything, they were just mentioned in my high school world history class, and I suppose it was foolish of me to assume that they got mentioned in other people’s history classes too.

I ask you, what is the point of Wikipedia, or indeed the entire Internet, if people aren’t going to check their bold, sweeping statements against basic historical fact? If you Google “History of Africa”, the very first result is a Wikipedia article with that same title.  Via the page’s Table of Contents, you can easily click down to 500-1800 CE, and get a nice overview of all sorts of thriving civilizations from that era.

Would it really require an impossible mental leap to present just one remote African civilization that had fended off foreign interlopers and continue to advance on their own?  Moreso than asking the audience to believe that Norse gods are actually just aliens at the other end of a wormhole, and that some kind of super-steroids can keep a man from freezing to death for 70 years?

And of course, there is no logic to the idea that Black Panther isn’t “iconic” enough or a “core” part of the Marvel Universe.  He was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.  He debuted in Fantastic Four.  He was an Avenger way back in 1968.  And are we forgetting where the vibranium of Cap’s shield comes from?  Black Panther and Wakanda are an intrinsic part of the Marvel Universe.  It’s a shame they’ve forgotten that.

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