How Captain America used isiXhosa for the Black Panther

I think we can all agree that Captain America: Civil War is a kickass movie. It has balanced action, a huge cast of heroes who take part in a battle royale and a story that manages to be both epic and personal. A really fantastic film. 

A highlight of Civil War is the introduction of a new Spider Man, played by Tom Holland. But it’s seeing the Black Panther in action that really sells the movie. The prince of Wakanda has his own story arc, setting up Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa before his own solo movie. As a South African, watching him speak Wakandan and realising that I didn’t need subtitles to understand him was magical. That’s because the language of Wakanda is largely isiXhosa. I guess you could say that it just clicked in as a natural fit. “The language we used for Wakandan is called Xhosa,” Civil War codirector Joe Russo told Entertainment Weekly

That’s massively important. We have got our own terrible history of abuse, violence and apartheid: a history that will still take many years to heal. And then you’ve got Wakanda, a fictional nation, which is the polar opposite of what South Africa has been through. 

In the comics, Wakanda is not only home to the Black Panther but also the most technologically advanced country on the planet. It’s a nation that has never been conquered, having easily fought off the likes of Dutch, British and American forces over centuries: countries with shady governments that would stop at nothing to destabilise Wakanda and claim the vibranium ore that is found only in that land. It’s one of the reasons Wakanda was for many years an isolationist country, before it began reaching out and attempting to better the world, giving it a future that lies in the stars. 

Civil War is going to be an important movie for the entire continent. To see a hero who echoes the best of Africa, a warrior-king in vibranium threads who, in a way, embodies the lessons taught by Nelson Mandela on compassion and action, is inspiring. It makes me want to pump my fist up and shout RSA! RSA! RSA! 


The Black Panther movie is scheduled for a February 2018 release date, alongside Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, Thor: Ragnarok and others in the third phase that stretches into 2020.

This article was first published on lazygamer.net on 6 May 2016. 

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Covid-overflow hospital in ruins as SIU investigates

A high-level probe has begun into hundreds of millions of rand spent by the Gauteng health department to refurbish a hospital that is now seven months behind schedule – and lying empty

Q&A Sessions: ‘I should have fought harder for SA vaccine’...

Professor Salim Abdool Karim talks to Nicolene de Wee about his responsibility as head of the ministerial advisory committee tasked with guiding the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

More top stories

Children may benefit when parents share their digital gaming...

Digital games can provide forums for diverse groups of people to come together, which is especially important while our physical activities are restricted

‘No one took us seriously’: Black cops warned about racist...

Allegations of racism against the Capitol Police are nothing new: Over 250 Black cops have sued the department since 2001. Some of those former officers now say it’s no surprise white nationalists were able to storm the building

Pay-TV inquiry probes the Multichoice monopoly

Africa’s largest subscription television operator says it is under threat amid the emerging popularity of global platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime

​No apology or comfort as another Marikana mother dies without...

Nomawethu Ma’Bhengu Sompeta, whose funeral will be held this weekend, was unequivocal in calling out the government for its response to the Marikana massacre
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…