For years, Marvel Comics published one of the most progressive portrayals of Africa in the world. Their superhero, the Black Panther, was a super-genius king who could kick ass but who also ruled his country, Wakanda, which became something of a character in its own right. Rather than the standard portrayal of an African country as a war-torn hell-hole (see DC Comic’s Unknown Soldier series) Wakanda was a cradle of technology and awesomeness.
A techno wonderland, you get the feeling Wakanda was invented by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee as a rebuttal to the prejudices of their fans. First seen in 1966, Wakanda was a miracle of technology, full of labs, scientists, vast wealth, and, in a nod to reality, a precious natural resource (vibranium) that was both the source of its wealth but also a lure for Western powers who are constantly invading or trying to invade Wakanda.
Then, in last year’s big Marvel event, Avengers Vs. Sorry I Just Fell Asleep, Wakanda got destroyed by a tidal wave. The result? Now it’s poor and disease-ridden, just the way the Western media likes its African nations. But, I guess this is just part of getting the Black Panther movie onscreen. As the Marvel Studios co-president said in 2012 , it was a very hard sell to show audiences a successful, thriving African nation like Wakanda. It was far easier to convince them of the reality of Asgard, land of the alien Norse people.