In last year's Captain America: Civil War, we had our first tantalizing glimpse at the nation of Wakanda, which fans across the world wanting more. That desire will finally be fulfilled in next year's solo Black Panther movie, which will finally allow us to dive into the mysteries and wonders of the 'El Dorado' of Africa. Over in the comics, Wakanda has a rich history as one of Marvel's most beloved nations, uniquely combining technological advancements we can only dream about with sorcery and mysticism.
The first trailer for Black Panther has given us our best look yet at the MCU's version of Wakanda, and it's certainly a nation of technological marvels. But will it also feature the sorcery and the mysticism that fans of the Black Panther have come to know and love?
Sorcery And Magic In The Marvel Cinematic Universe
The #MCU was born in science; as a result, last year's mystical #DoctorStrange took great care to establish a scientific basis for magic and sorcery in the MCU. Astrophysicist Adam Frank from the University of Rochester — a lifelong Marvel fan who consulted on Doctor Strange — explained:
"It very much is a science issue: what is the multiverse? While we have four forces in our universe [gravitational, electromagnetic, strong and weak nuclear], others may have more. They've taken the idea of other universes with different laws, and worked them into the Marvel Universe."
Doctor Strange introduced a whole new multiverse, including powerful extradimensional entities that can intervene in human affairs. So far, we've only seen the monstrous Dormammu; is it possible there are beings out there who would offer blessings and boons to humanity? If so, that easily creates a way to weave in one of the most fascinating concepts of the Black Panther comics.
The Initiation Ritual Of The Black Panther
In the MCU, it appears that the Black Panther's initiation ritual is heavily influenced by the legends of El Dorado, where a tribal chieftain who is coated in gold dust and bathes in a lake. In the comics, though, you have a very different ritual — one which involves the Black Panther seeking out the spirit of the Panther God. It is the Panther God who bestows a blessing upon any would-be Black Panther, transforming them into something more than man. The Panther God could easily be envisioned as yet another extradimensional entity, albeit one who desires the best for Wakanda.
“People who read the comics would be familiar with the Heart-Shaped Herb and the ceremonies that surround that. That’s partially spiritual. We certainly don’t call it magic, but there’s Vibranium that has been interwoven within that soil and that land for thousands of years, so there are other things going on with it.”
I love the careful, cautious way Feige explains that. He explicitly states that the rituals and ceremonies are partly "spiritual," but implies it's as much because of vibranium absorbed by the plants as anything else. It's possible that ingesting the vibranium-rich herb won't just grant the Black Panther special abilities; it could well open up his consciousness to other planes of existence, leading to a brief encounter with the Panther God. Given Black Panther is a political thriller rather than a supernatural adventure, my suspicion is that this won't be explicitly noted; rather, it will be subtly hinted, with the casual viewer only realizing that there's a spiritual dimension to all this.
Personally, I wouldn't expect Black Panther to wholeheartedly embrace the mystical side of the comics. That said, if this film is truly going to pay homage to the characters and concepts that fans have loved over the years, then it simply has to allude to them. Doctor Strange prepared the way for that kind of science-based approach to magic and sorcery, and I'll be very surprised indeed if Black Panther doesn't follow the same pattern — albeit far more subtly.
Do you think 'Black Panther' will have a supernatural side to the film?
(Source: Entertainment Weekly)