SPOILER ALERT: Since this is a summer of superhero movies I figured it would be proper to post something else about superheroes. This post contains SOME spoilers for the Marvel Cinematic Universe summer hit movie, Avengers: Infinity War. If you have not seen it, you can still feel free to read this post. If you have seen it, I think you’d appreciate this perspective on the movie.
Well, the cat’s out of the bag: King T’Challa is dead, or dead-ash. I was absolutely stunned! Especially because I was so excited to see Avengers: Infinity War! I left the theater being angry at Thor, angry at Star Lord, but above all, angry at Marvel!
My first gripe was with the major fight scene. Why did this infinite war have to occur in Africa?? Hasn’t Africa suffered enough at the hands of colonizas? The only country in Africa not colonized did not satisfy people. They must just come and destroy Wakanda by hosting a war there, abi? See them see trouble o! My second gripe was, obviously, T’Challa’s demise. They made us fall in love with him and root for him and want more of him. And then bam! It almost felt like they just had to kick a black man down from his ladder of ascension or pull the rug from under our feet. We just got T’Challa!
Once I calmed down, some five hours later, I thought to myself, perhaps they chose to kill T’Challa not because he is black, but because it would hurt the most and make us want to come back for part two, thus making them more money. Think about it. T’Challa was the newest and most adored Avenger in recent months. How else do we explain Marvel’s sudden decision to move up the release date for Infinity War after seeing the success of Black Panther? As my annoyance further abated, I realized Falcon also perished in this movie. Nevertheless, it made no sense to me that neither the only other centenarian nor the 1500 year-old-god of thunder seemed worthy of death by dusting, but rather it was the beloved, young, cool, smart, handsome, and vibrant leader of Wakanda that fit the bill for Thanos’ innie-minnie-miny-moe game of selective eugenics.
But this got me thinking of real life. Now that King T’Challa is dead, doesn’t that mean Shuri is queen? What would that look like? How would she respond to that? Would she become the new Black Panther? Did she even survive “the purge”? Is she ready for the mantle? Who will oversee her technological enterprise? Or will she incorporate that into her duties as the reigning monarch of Wakanda? More so, how will Mbaku respond? Would he take this as another opportunity to ascend to the Wakandan throne or will Shuri abdicate her right to the throne to Mbaku?
It will be interesting to see if Marvel will incorporate this into the storyline. It will be interesting to see the decisions Shuri makes and how she matures into her role as queen. I would like to see how Wakandans respond to her being the leader, especially since the only rulers we have seen of their nation have been men.
There are only three nations in real life Africa that have monarchs as heads of state. And of course, there have been African women in leadership and there currently are some. Still, Shuri’s leadership may have poignant lessons for Africa and even for Marvel. It seems there is still apprehension towards black women being in leadership and towards changing the political sphere to welcoming the younger generation and women. After all, it was the president of my own country that said his wife belongs in the other room. We see politicians refusing to step down or scheming their way back into power. Some African leaders are talking heads with minimal change agency. If Marvel does choose to explore this part of the story, it could potentially mirror what we see in real life Africa or have positive implications for real life Africa. I hope we get to see a unified country mourning its king and supporting the crowning of a new queen rather than another civil war and unrest resulting from this situation. I hope we see a peaceful transition of power in the key areas of government. Either way, I maintain my Marvel Cinematic Universe boycott unless they #BringBackOurTChalla. Until then, all hail Queen Shuri!