Black Panther is a unique movie for a couple of reasons. One of those reasons is it’s setting. The film largely takes place in Wakanda, a country in Africa.
Now a movie taking place in Africa certainly isn’t unique. Nor is a movie taking place in a fictional country in Africa all that unique. What makes this particular situation unique is that while Wakanda may be fiction (yes, Ben Shapiro, you are right about that part,) the world around it isn’t. The country exists on the same planet as New York City, Los Angeles and Europe.
That’s pretty unique. But what exactly is Wakanda?
Wakanda, officially known as The Kingdom of Wakanda, is a country said to be located at the point in Africa where Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia meet. This area in real life is also known as the Ilemi Triangle, which is a area of disputed land claimed by both South Sudan and Kenya.
The country fits into the Marvel Universe because of it’s boundless supply of Vibranium. Vibranium comes from a meteor that crashed into the area that would become Wakanda long ago. The Wakandans took to worshipping the mountain where the Vibranium was located, forming the Cult of the Panther, a tribute to “their native predator, the black panther, which guarded the sacred mountain.”
In order to protect this precious resource, one that is “stronger than steel, but only a third of the weight, as well as being completely vibration absorbent,” Wakanda became devotedly isolationist, walling themselves off not just from their neighbors in Africa, but the entire world.
Wakanda also became incredibly technologically advanced and has used those technological advancements to not just build the Black Panther’s suit, but help the country hide from the rest of the world, all of which would love to get their hands on the Wakanda’s invaluable resource.
According to Marvel lore, Howard Stark, the father of Tony Stark/Iron Man, discovered Wakanda and it’s surplus of Vibranium in the 1940’s. Stark used what he found to create Captain America’s shield, a scene that was depicted in Captain America: The First Avenger.
“It’s stronger than steel and a third of the weight. It’s completely vibration absorbent.”
“How come it’s not standard issue?”
“That’s the rarest metal on Earth. What you’re holding there, that’s all we’ve got.”―Howard Stark and Steve Rogers
Vibranium appeared again in the second Avengers movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, when the scientist Ulysses Klaue, who had stolen a stockpile of his own, sold it to the film’s villain, Ultron, who used Vibranium to build his army. It has also appeared or been talked about in a few other Marvel movies, with part of Iron Man’s suit being constructed with Vibranium.
Wakanda was first seen at the end of Captain America: Civil War, as the Black Panther had taken Captain America and Bucky Barnes home to hide from Iron Man.