“Wakanda Forever” Evokes Maroon Images From Slave Revolts & One Sacred Black Utopia
The trailer for the latest Black Panther movie, Wakanda Forever, landed this past weekend. Ryan Coogler, with his outsize vision of Black grandiosity and high art, is an auteur to be reckoned with. His first attempt rendering Black Panther, a mythic but marginal hero in the Marvel Universe, staked him among Hollywood’s elite talent. It seems like Coogler has reloaded the clip with learned experience from directing the blockbuster Creed franchise and a general urgency to improve.
Coogler, who’s an Oakland kid, was also forged in the irons of Black nationalist thought in the same way I was, as the Brooklyn son of a Rasta. Pro-Black and Pan-African theory coursed through our households like stewed kidney beans, burnt-sugar-garlic-gravy, and Nag Champa vapors. I’m a stone’s throw away from Brooklyn’s Marcus Garvey Boulevard (Harlem has its own), and a short walk from Toussaint L’Ouverture Way, East Brooklyn avenues that clutch Caribbean political theory and Black hero worship tightly. As these neighborhoods continue to gentrify, driving up rent prices to accommodate the Black and White bourgeois classes, their identity markers fade ever slowly. The bold, bright traditions of Afro-Caribbean battles won, and the psychic groove of dancehall, Kompa, and salsa beats won’t give way easily to bespoke cafés and earnest book hubs.
That heritage stronghold comes from the Maroons who rebelled in Jamaica and Haiti and struck deep-seated fear in White colonizers. And that fear still rattles White supremacy now because it suggests that if and when Black folks feel fed up, violent retribution and separatism will be the result.The Maroons provided a tangible example of how rapidly the anti-colonial Black imagination reworks, reshapes, reinvents, and reproduces hope. The symbolic Wakandan resource “vibranium” is just Black resilience in comic strip form, an infinitely renewable, impossibly powerful link to the Earth and all its gifts.
Coogler’s Wakanda Forever trailer favors this symbolism with unflinching respect for that suggestive power…