Afrofuturism Meets Black Panther.

Date of Event



Afrofuturism Meets Black Panther.

Brief Description

The film "Black Panther" is the combination of authentic African cultural references, science fiction and technology, specifically in the main character, T’Challa. He represents the Afrofuturism framework because he is embedded in African tradition and technology. T'Challa defies stereotypes, supports black liberation and projects the future possibilities of the Black community.

Extended Description

Upon researching Afrofuturism, I was able to develop a relatable perspective about the combination of authentic African diaspora culture, science fiction and technology, specifically in the film character, T’Challa, from “Black Panther.” He fits the afrofuturism framework because he is embodies African tradition and technology. With him as the main protagonist, people of color are able to dream and fight for a society no longer bonded to oppression. The term is a reminder of the past, and a vision of the future similar to T’Challa’s role in the film. Not only does T’Challa display a royal and honest representation of the African culture, but he defies stereotypes, supports black liberation and projects on the future of the black community. The audience will continue to admire T’Challa as a superhero, as long as film producers continue to drench him in ancient African traditions and Black identity.

The film, Black Panther, goes beyond the afrofuturistic construct, mostly to illustrate a technologically savvy, inclusive future, while exposing the colonial power structures that have historically denied African culture the space to grow and flourish in the world. The film never fails to highlight his black beauty and intelligence, as well as the societal success. He holds the weight of Wakanda on his shoulders, especially since they are so discreet in geography. He has to learn to cope with his fathers’ lies, while defeating Killmonger. I felt that his most afrofuturistic scene, came at the end of the film, when he decides to open his country up, to the rest of the world.

T’Challa becomes King of Wakanda, which to the rest of the world, isn’t much of a big deal. Simply put, they have been able to become the only African country to not be colonized. This means, all their natural resources have been protected by their past generational leaders, like King T’Chaka. Wakanda had an asteroid, with a super metal, from space impact a mountain. The super metal vibranium is the source of the power in their country. Using this rich resource, they have been able to advance constantly in science and technology. King T’Challa has ensured the equal distribution of resources and technology. Vibranium beads heal bullet wounds, while their bulletproof suits absorb and store the energy of hostile blows.

Had Wakanda been colonized, their livelihood would look completely different. In the film, they have livable housing, food, water, and transport, without the “traditional” organizations that are seen in today’s modern society. T’Challa leads by example and relies on his community members and staff heavily. He demonstrates what the black community is able to produce without the influence of other institutions and races. This is a subtle way of attempting to dismantle racism through the media, by asking the question, “what if slavery had never happened?” and “how far can people of color (African descent) go, had they not been colonized and dehumanized?” The main point of the film, Black Panther, is to expose the different lives of people of color, and to demonstrate the differences in the separate worlds of being black: the American black vs. the African black. In other words, we were watching a heroic, traditional black oriented society, while living in a colonized society with systemic racism. The whole storyline is a movement well needed in today’s society – socially, politically and artistically. With an African American character, holding the most crucial role in a film solely about the success of Black people, it is no wonder many people felt a need to reclaim their black identity after watching “Black Panther.”

The afrofuturistic film took place in the East African home of Wakanda. While this location is fictional, the small country has avoided white colonizers by seeming poor for centuries. Beyond this, we still have more findings that represent afrofuturism in the leader T’Challa. Everyone has equal technological access, women are seen as equal members of society, and the nation has such a major role in helping citizens, especially since the nation is powerful itself. General Okoye is a woman, yet seen as the most powerful warrior in Wakanda. Another woman that has a relationship with T’Challa, and is embedded in African tradition, is Nakia, a Wakandan spy who frees Nigerian oppressed people. Most black feminine characters think or behave nothing like these women do, let alone are they respected by a king like T’Challa. The role of T’Challa continuously goes against stereotypes about communities of color. Having no white supremacy, no institutionalized racism, and no other colonial structures did not turn the country of Wakanda into a savage house. In fact, the Pan-African identity and traditions became rooted in each character, especially T’Challa. It is definitely necessary for people of color just to have a way to connect to their shared racial struggles and their resistance to colonization.

In order to reimagine the past, one must be able to accept their history and move on. In the film’s opening act, T’Challa takes a purple flower elixir and enters an ancestral plane, which is populated by Black Panthers who are either ancestors, and/or past leaders of Wakanda. In the scene, he is wearing all white (a representation of the American black; traditional dress code for that sort of service), and stares at the purple sky and fascinating trees until his father appears in front of him. His father says to him, “Stand up; you are the King now.” Following this, King T’Challa spends much of his time trying to honor his father’s legacy of isolation policies. While this may fall into traditional practices, personal principles created a dilemma for King T’Challa. This scene plays a major role in the revisioning and reproduction of the Black identity. The unbreakable bond between T’Challa and his father’s role as a leader and father, are inseparable. Past knowledge allowed the Prince to become King, but current circumstances forced him to uphold his father’s legacy, as long as he could, until his country became at risk.

If we analyze T’Challa’s character, both as king and Black Panther, we can understand why afrofuturism is important and significance of the uproar in the AA community. T'Challa is assured and eager as Black Panther, yet conservative and unsure as a king. He is a long-overdue role-model and superhero. After reimagining the past, the future seems easier to imagine. While there were many conflicts throughout the film, T’Challa's were the most personal and heavy. He had to break away from country's policies and family legacy for the greater good of his people, or sacrifice the well-being of citizens, to keep certain structures in place? Still, by the end of the film, our protagonist, along with Divine Feminine (all women army), and the CIA, take care of the terrorists/traitors of Wakanda, at the price of his country’s isolation.


African Continent

Student creator name(s)

Dionis Polanco

Afrofuturism Canon


Item sets