Wakanda Forever. It’s not just the name of an upcoming movie or a phrase synonymous with Marvel’s Black Panther. It is a promise to Black and brown people everywhere, particularly those in the Global South and more specifically in Africa, that no matter what adversity may come, we will not be defeated. We are forever.
There’s no denying the emotion that came with Marvel’s release of the trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. We were choking back tears on every watch — and we’ve watched it no fewer than six times. It’s of course an ode to the late Chadwick Boseman, whose voice we can hear every time we read the phrase that came to be the title of the movie.
We acknowledge and celebrate that; but it is also a reflection of what it takes to move forward. The trailer highlights that often, the world won’t wait for you to heal before it delivers another blow to your mission for safety and social justice.
We think every Global Citizen should watch the Black Panther trailer at least once (or more!), because we simply cannot get the important messages it carries for Global Citizens and the world out of our minds. In just over two minutes, the trailer helped us mourn, made us feel, and drove us to want to take action.
Here are some of the reasons we think it’s essential viewing for Global Citizens.
1. It Gives an Honest Perspective on the ‘Strong Black Woman’ Trope
There was nothing better than watching Black Panther in 2018 and indulging in the epic Black women leaders and supporting characters in the film. You’d be lying if you said you didn’t pick up on the fact that one of the movie’s biggest themes was showing the world just what Black, African women are capable of.
However, in comparison to 2018, the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer has showcased a more vulnerable side to the women we have come to see as absolute pillars of strength. Queen Ramonda, Shuri, the Dora Milaje (Wakanda’s women warriors), and Nakia are all shown in states of pensiveness, hurt, and mourning at the beginning of the trailer.
What’s important about it though, is that it also continues to show that their vulnerability does not take away from their strength, particularly in the final shots of the Dora Milaje springing into action against a new enemy.
The strong Black woman persona is and always has been an enemy of progress towards bringing poverty to an absolute end. While describing someone as a strong Black woman sounds like a compliment — acknowledging that she’s always up to fight, defend, and sacrifice, and doesn’t need support or assistance — it’s a one-sided view of Black women that makes them seem as if they do not need resources or assistance to help drive progress.
The trope refuses to look at Black women as the versatile and multi-faceted human beings they are, rather characterizing them as untouchable and not-to-be-messed with. But what does this have to do with poverty, you ask?
Well, Black women, particularly those in the Global South, are among the most vulnerable to extreme poverty and its impacts. Yes, women are strong — but if that’s laid out as a defining characteristic, it detracts from the urgent need for greater support required for women to access the resources and assistance needed to make the systemic changes needed to end extreme poverty.
Women may be able to fight, protect, and sacrifice, but in a world that has always prioritized whiteness and maleness, individual strength is often not enough to lift women out of systemic adversity and poverty.
What Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has done is remind people that while Black women can handle everything that comes their way, it does not mean they are cast from stone, and that they do not need support from time to time in order to face their biggest challenges.
Queen Ramonda (played by Angela Bassett) is the only person who actually speaks in the trailer, and it’s a powerful two sentences that highlight this exact point.
“I am queen of the most powerful nation in the world, and yet, my entire family is gone,” she says. “Have I not given everything?”
2. Tems’ Cover of ‘No Woman No Cry’ & the Celebration of African Artists
Firstly, we just want to shout out Nigerian singer, Tems for continuing to put Africa on the map. First a BET award, and now her voice leads one of the most anticipated trailers of 2022. Not to mention that we’re already seeing her name linked to Beyoncé’s upcoming album. We can’t get enough of her.
It’s not often that African voices are heard, let alone that they get the opportunity to lead major blockbuster film trailers. Tems’ rendition of Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry” not only reflects the tone of the trailer, but in the bigger picture, reminds the world that now is the time to propel African artists into the global spotlight.
Tems is not the only one doing Africa proud in the name of Wakanda Forever — the first three songs from the official soundtrack have been released, and we can look forward to the voice of Ghana’s Amaarae in the movie too.
African talent deserves global recognition and attention, which is vital in ensuring the world sees the continent as more than a place of poverty. While poverty may exist on the continent, it is not something to pity, but rather a challenge that needs to be addressed.
With Africa’s artists and talents showing what we can do despite poverty, the perception of the continent will change and those with the greatest resources can see investing in Africa’s development as an opportunity and not charity.
3. It Shows That a Social Justice Hero’s Legacy Is Just as Important as Their Living Impact
There’s no denying that King T’Challa (played by Chadwick Boseman) was a hero who championed the protection of his people above all, a true social justice advocate who showed the rest of the Avengers that Africa’s fighters are a force to be reckoned with, and the rest of the world that he was willing to step up to defend what is right.
The passing of Chadwick Boseman (a hero and inspiration in his own right) has taken T’Challa away from us; however it has not taken away the fighting spirit for justice that he left behind. His legacy speaks volumes, and in the trailer, while most of the characters are in mourning, you can see the celebration of his life and the inspiration that his legacy brings to the people of Wakanda.
This brings to mind how the likes of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and so many more may have left the earth, but their legacies still remain and continue to propel those left behind to seek justice and call for peace.
4. It Showcases a New Actor From the Global South
More narratives about Global South characters is what we like to see, because representation matters. The trailer introduces a new character: Namor the Sub-Mariner, the ruler of Atlantis, played by Mexican actor, Tenoch Huerta.
While we see in the trailer that he is an antagonist, the casting is key, as not only has the Black Panther franchise worked to propel the excellence of Black actors into the global spotlight; now it’s doing the same with Latin American actors.
Huerta gave a moving speech (both in English and Spanish) ahead of the trailer being shown for the first time at San Diego Comic-Con, spotlighting the importance of diversity and inclusion in Hollywood.
“I come from the neighborhood, and I am here thanks to inclusion. Without inclusion I would not be here,” he said. “A lot of children are in their neighborhoods looking at us, dreaming of being here. And they will get it.”
5. It Highlights how Africa Is Constantly Fighting in Defense of Its Land
The premise of the movie, which is laid out quite clearly in the structure of the trailer, is the fight to protect what belongs to Africa and her people. The reason that may sound familiar, is because, although Wakanda is a fictional Africa country, the storyline is Africa’s very real plot that has been playing out for centuries.
In the wake of King T’Challa’s death, the country’s leaders must step up and fight to protect Wakanda from invasion. This is not a new narrative, with this year alone having highlighted shocking accounts of Tanzania’s Maasai people fighting eviction from their rightful land.
In 2021, meanwhile, we saw South Africa’s Khoi San defending their land against major corporation, Amazon, which sought to build a new headquarters on Indigenous land. These are recent examples, but we’ve seen the same story many times over in Africa’s history.
It is crucial that these narratives be shown on major platforms, helping the audience see what injustices around the world can look like, and reminding people that these battles are still very much ongoing.