Welcome to ... the Wakandaverse
SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Today we celebrate the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the thirtieth and final film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the American media franchise and shared universe based on characters that appear in the stories published by Marvel Comics. Phase Five of the MCU kicks-off in February 2023 with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
We’ve previously speculated about how the behemoth that is the MCU might enter the Metaverse and maximise the value of its intellectual property with virtual experiences. But today we’re focusing on the Black Panther franchise and its associated mythology.
As of today, there have been two standalone Black Panther outings in the MCU, with the titular hero having appeared in another six Marvel movies. Combined, this provides a good foundation on which to imagine a future “Wakandaverse”, a virtual Metaworld, where fans of the movies and characters can socialise with like-minded fans, explore areas inspired by Black Panther mythology, compete in competitions, and buy exclusive merchandise and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
In 2018’s Black Panther, we’re introduced to the Wakandan tribes, the home and folklore of each could easily fill a virtual “Metazone” for future Metaverse explorers to enjoy. While all tribes are represented in the film, it is the mountain-dwelling Jabari Tribe who take up the most screen-time. The Jabari Tribe are traditionalists, who respect the past, and have adopted a more primitive lifestyle. Based on these characteristics, the Jabari Tribe zone would be a good place to house the Wakandan archives, which contains all references to Wakanda and the Black Panther in Marvel digital and print comics, or a Museum of Black History for visitors to explore. Fans could even learn Xhosa, the South African language used by actors in the Black Panther films.
The Border Tribe, known for breeding White Rhinoceros, are tasked with defending Wakanda from potential invaders. Perhaps the Border Tribe zone could be a place for visitor to enjoy some Wakandan Esports. Rhino racing anyone? Certain members of the Border Tribe practise scarification, adorning their faces with various scars and brands. Fans of the films may want to design their own body art, to be applied back in the real world.
The Merchant Tribe are responsible for the majority of Wakanda's trade and the crafting of clothing, artifacts and pieces of art. It therefore makes sense for the Merchant Tribe zone to house a Wakandan Meta-market, an M-commerce sector where people can buy or sell Black Panther-related products in the Metaverse. Perhaps a Black Panther coffee mug to be collected back in the real world, a Black Panther inspired skin for your avatar, or some fan-art created by fans, for fans. The possibilities are endless.
We assigning the River Tribe zone as the gaming zone, a place where vistoris can enjoy some immersive white water rafting, or perhaps some capture the flag-type competitions between tribes? Finally, we have the Golden Tribe. As the tribe who united the Wakandan tribes in Black Panther mythology, we see it fitting for the Golden Tribe zone to act as the social hub of the Wakandaverse, a virtual space where fans can socialise with one another, and their heroes.
Black Panther also introduced us to the ancestral plane. Before becoming the King of Wakanda and fully inheriting his powers, Chadwick Boseman’s character T'Challa must take a ritualistic step into the ancestral realm and receive his ancestors’ blessing. The ancestral plane zone could be a place for self-reflection and meditation and a place to remember or commemorate loved ones.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever sees the kingdom of Wakanda fighting to protect their nation from invading forces in the wake of King T’Challa’s death and from anti-hero Namor the Sub-Mariner’s undersea nation of Talokan. This provides an additional zone for fans to explore, one inspired by Mesoamerican mythology and Aztec culture, with its own social, gaming, commerce, esport, and learning opportunities.
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