The backdrop of Wakanda

Black Panther showed up on Netflix recently, meaning I had to re-watch it so I could get into Wakanda again.

I enjoyed the movie the first time, but liked it even more the second time. Partly because I was able to focus more on the backdrop to the story, if you will.

The costumes

Apparently the Maasai traditionally clothing inspired the outfits for the Dora Milaje*

There’s a specific character for me where the costumes stood out on the second viewing: Shuri, played by Letitia Wright.

Shuri is T’Challa’s little sister. You get the sense that, although brilliant, she’s fairly young. The costumes play a part in giving that impression.

Her clothes fit with the more traditional clothing of other characters, but they have a modern teenager vibe to them as well.

Of course, I also love the Dora Milaje — the entirely female royal guard. They are fierce and feminine. And I appreciate that the filmmakers didn’t take the costumes in the titillating direction that many others would have.

Wakanda itself

Yeah, the futuristic underground lab/storage/final showdown locale was cool. But it was the city above ground that caught my eye.

It’s a modern city with skyscrapers and bustling traffic — and even at least one spot of graffiti, but the (CGI) materials used and the design of the skyscrapers connect it to the landscape around it and the people who live in it.

It seems we have this cookie-cutter idea of what a modern city should look like, and this riffs on that and subverts it.

The future

And maybe that’s what really appealed to me about the backdrop of Black Panther.

It presents a different vision of the future — our relationship to our various cultures, our relationship to our environment and our relationship to each other. And it’s a vision I like.  It resonates.

Though one of the most subversive — subverting? — lines in the movie is from M’Baku who’s being portrayed as the big, angry ape man, which plays on these outdated ideas about Africa. He’s threatening to eat someone…then says ‘Just kidding, we’re vegetarians’, decimating that stereotype. Okay, I might also like that because I’m a vegetarian. Nah, it’s still brilliant.

If there are any readers out there from the (great big diverse) continent of Africa, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the physical world created in the movie.

*By Andreaambia [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

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