Marvel debuted the first teaser trailer for Black Panther last night and one facet of the video that has stuck with people is just how technologically advanced the city of Wakanda is.
Wakanda, which was first introduced to Marvel Cinematic Universe audiences last year in Captain America: Civil War, is the home of Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and the Wakandan people. In Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, the country was recently established, at long last, to lie on the coast of Lake Victoria. But in the MCU, no one knows exactly where, or perhaps, what Wakanda is.
It’s a question that comes up in the trailer for Black Panther, followed by a description from Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman), the CIA operative who made his debut in Civil War.
“It’s a third world country,” Ross proclaims. “Textiles, shepherds, cool outfits.”
Except that it’s not. Wakanda is, and always has been, the most technologically advanced nation in Marvel comics. This is due in large part because of how isolated Wakanda is from the rest of civilization. Without any influence — or interference — from other nations, Wakanda was able to develop its own unique technology, and that’s what’s at the forefront of the trailer.
Here are a couple of examples, broken down in GIF form:
From the aircrafts that the Wakandan people pilot to the weaponry they equip themselves with, the technology is like nothing that anyone else around the planet has seen. One of the most interesting aspects of the technology created by Wakandan minds is how close it resembles nature. Brian Stelfreeze, the artist who has been drawing the most recent line of Black Panther comics, told PopSci that keeping the technology futuristic while still embracing nature and the pre-technological roots of Wakanda was always intentional.
“I think of Wakandan technology as organic technology. Most of their tech mimics nature because it comes from nature. Wakanda was a tremendously warring nation, with a very feudal time early on. But after a while proper borders were established, which ushered in a time of peace. Peace time shifted concerns from war to agriculture, from agriculture to early days of knife and spear-building to developing exotic materials. Rather than coming from industry, Wakandan tech came from agricultural needs — using organic tech to build machines.”
That sentiment is at the heart of what the trailer is trying to introduce when defining Wakanda. At the heart of the Wakandan technology is a woman named Shuri (Letitia Wright), the sister of T’Challa (otherwise known as Black Panther) and the head designer of all the fancy gadgets seen in the trailer. It’s an important role for both Wright and the film, the actress told Interview Magazine, for reasons that stretch beyond Black Panther.
“She’s princess of Wakanda, but also she designs all of the new technology there,” Wright said. “She has an innovative spirit and an innovative mind, and she wants to take Wakanda to a new place … And that’s good for other people to see, especially for young people to see, because it’s like, ‘Look, there’s a young black girl who loves technology and she’s from Africa.’ It’s something refreshing.”
Having a futuristic-inspired nation of Africa has meant quite a bit to fans, many who tweeted about how cool it was to see the skyscrapers standing tall in a part of the continent that’s consistently mis-characterized as not having modern urban spaces.
Wakanda is proud of its heritage and chooses to honor many of the traditions and customs of its ancestors while being futuristic.— No Relation (@TheCosby) June 10, 2017
Real talk. Love the Black Panther Trailer. Coogler nailed Wakanda as bright and vibrant city that keep a balance with it roots. I got chills— Covfefe the Wiener (@heyitsaaron) June 10, 2017
Wakanda was really looking like paradise in that Black Panther trailer.— OXTAIL GAWD (@ThatDudeMCFLY) June 10, 2017
Most of Black Panther is set to take place in Wakanda and, with a number of fans already obsessed with how the city looks and what it represents, it’s important for director Ryan Coogler to get it right. Much like Asgard and figuring out how to portray the city that birthed and raised Thor, Wakanda is more than just a setting.
Black Panther will be released on Feb. 16, 2018.