While perhaps not the best Marvel movie ever (my vote still goes for the last two Captain America films and Avengers 1 and 3), it’s perhaps safe to say that Black Panther was the most important Marvel movie ever made. And it not just because it starred a mostly black or even because of its female empowerment, but rather because it went a long way to changing the perceptions that people have of Africa being a continent that is only reliant on the first world to survive.
It was also a movie that wasn’t afraid to embrace African heritage and culture and show that it can co-exist with a modern technologically savvy society. It was a movie that the world needed and its release in a time when racial divisions are on a high was a heartfelt reminder that the colour of our skin or language we speak has little bearing on who we are as people. And also that Africans can play just as much a part of changing the world as all the other economically stronger countries.
And it also got to give little-known language outside of South Africa, isiXhosa and its accent, a good showcase to the world. That last part though might never have happened had Marvel stuck to their initial plans which was to give Wakandans a British accent. Chadwick Boseman, who plays the role of T’Challa (a.k.a. Black Panther) revealed the news on a recent The Hollywood Reporter Podcast and how he had to fight against Marvel’s first decision and insist on authentic African accents:
They felt that it was maybe too much for an audience to take. I felt the exact opposite — like, if I speak with a British accent, what’s gonna happen when I go home? It felt to me like a deal-breaker. I was like, ‘No, this is such an important factor that if we lose this right now, what else are we gonna throw away for the sake of making people feel comfortable?’
And obviously it was the right decision to make. While a British accent might have been better on the ear for the majority of Western audiences, it would’ve only perpetuated the idea of African colonisation and considering that Wakanda, as a fictional country, is meant to be a tech-savvy country that fully embraces its African roots it just wouldn’t have felt authentic and would’ve robbed the characters of part of what made them so special and unique to the movie world – their “Africanness”.
We can be grateful that sanity prevailed at Marvel and that it got to create a movie like Black Panther which the world can now look back on as a triumph. The world needed to see Africa at its best and thankfully every aspect of that, including the accents, was delivered through Wakanda.
Last Updated: September 4, 2018