Black Panther is probably one of the Marvel movies that surprised the most our generation these last years. Directed by Ryan Coogler, it is without a doubt one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. Unfortunately, the main actor in the film, Chadwick Boseman, suddenly passed away a few years ago, making the director review his plans for the future of the Black Panther franchise. How can we do Black Panther without Black Panther? Well, producers just have to find a replacement, no? No, it was much harder than that because of the lore surrounding the franchise.
However, after a lot of work through the years, the sequel finally came out: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”. The film was not acclaimed like the first one but had great success and some amazing mise en scene. It was a nice story to be told and at the same time, a beautiful homage to Chadwick Boseman. However, there’s a scene that the French Defense Ministry didn’t like at all for multiple reasons. For him, this scene is like “propaganda” because the film depicts the French Troops in a bad way, and also, with very controversial military uniforms.
A False And Misleading Representation
In ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’, this scene takes place in Ansongo in Mali, where the French troops have intervened in the Serval and Barkhane operations. These operations were meant to protect the Malian population from terrorist groups and 58 French soldiers died in them. But this is not at all what ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ depicts in this scene, It’s even the contrary. In this scene, France is depicted as a country that wants to steal the Wakanda resources. But for the French Defense minister, the problem is not the context, because after all, this scene is pure fiction, the problem is that French soldiers are wearing these particular military uniforms that they used to have for the Barkhane operation that was, as a reminder, supposed to help protect the Malian population from terrorist groups.
And that’s why the minister Sebastien Lecornu was very angry at that scene: “I strongly condemn this false and deceptive representation of our armed forces, I am thinking of and honoring the 58 French soldiers who died defending Mali, at its request, in the face of Islamist terrorist groups”. He then added: “no revisionism can be allowed about France’s recent actions in Mali: we intervened at the county’s own request to fight armed terrorist groups, far from the story told in the film, namely a French army coming to pillage natural resources”.
Je condamne fermement cette représentation mensongère et trompeuse de nos forces Armées.
Je pense et rends hommage aux 58 soldats français qui sont morts en défendant le Mali à sa demande face aux groupes terroristes islamistes. https://t.co/KpnFIcatPt
— Sébastien Lecornu (@SebLecornu) February 12, 2023
However, the minister said he was “not calling for withdrawal or censorship on a work of art”. For him, freedom of speech in Art is very important and he just wanted to make a point and justify why he was angry at that scene. He just wanted that to never happen again and remember the movie staff that they should pay attention to every detail, to not spread misinformation on real events that could hurt people that really died or even the family of those people who sacrificed their lives for a country.
An Even More Complicated Context These Days
The problem here isn’t only the misleading uniforms. Many people might wonder why the French Defense Minister was “so angry” seeing this scene from ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’. After all, as he said himself, It’s just a work of Art. Well, It’s because there are also many political issues between Mali and France these days.
Once French Troops left Mali in 2020, the country called Russia’s Wagner mercenary group to reinforce its army. After that, tensions started to appear between France and Mali, as pro-Russian accounts were spreading propaganda cartoons against France online. Little by little, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast decided to follow this lead, turning their back on France by also becoming partly allies to the Russian mercenary group. And of course, with the actual tensions between Russia and the world these days, this scene does not please anyone.
Of course, Ryan Coogler’s intention wasn’t to go that far, he just wanted to show the fictitious power of Wakanda in the film, nothing to provoke France or anything. But sometimes, you even have to predict the future if you don’t want to annoy a country, and that’s what happened in this particular case.