WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Marvel’s Black Panther, in theaters now.
There has been a lot of hype about Wakanda’s advanced technology leading up to the release of Marvel’s Black Panther film, and for good reason. In the comics, this East African nation has been depicted as a land of scientific wonders since its introduction in 1966 in Fantastic Four #52. In that issue alone, we see Black Panther and his countrymen utilize cutting-edge communication equipment and surveillance gear, polarity rifles, titanium handcuffs and night-vision goggles to neutralize Marvel’s First Family.
Since then, T’Challa and his Vibranium-rich country have progressed at a rapid pace. The rare metal is used in almost every application imaginable and has made many of Wakanda’s breakthroughs possible. So, it’s satisfying to see director Ryan Coogler and his team portray a live-action Wakanda that faithfully adapts that rare balance of tradition and futurism. Below we highlight all of the innovations depicted in the film, as well as in Marvel Comics’ Avengers: Infinity War Prelude, which in some ways ties into Black Panther.
The aircraft seen in this film seem as if they’re pulled from Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze’s run on the Black Panther comic; the individual “feathers” are the most obvious similarity. The small ship Okoye pilots is called a Royal Talon Fighter, which in the comics looks like a conventional jet fighter, but we aren’t told much more about them.
In Avengers: Infinity War Prelude, we see what happens directly after the events of Captain America: Civil War. It shows T’Challa taking Zemo away in a ship that looks like something out of Star Wars or Alien, rather than anything that has been in the Black Panther comics or is in the movie. It’s likely artist that Tigh Walker had not seen the film, or even concept art, when he drew this issue. However, it sure would be fun if this wild design showed up in Avengers: Infinity War.
The first time we see Wakanda, we witness maglev trains and cars zooming around a city. Later, there’s another high-speed train in the Vibranium mine. In Coates and Stelfreeze’s relaunch of Black Panther they established that, “Vibranium absorbs sound and kinetic energy, but that energy stays locked within the vibranium itself […] scientists can tap into this stored energy and use Vibranium as a limitless power source, and this powers all Wakandan technology.” So, this is likely the premise Coogler and his collaborators were working from when making this film.
The only other vehicle we’ll touch on is only briefly mentioned, but seems to be a clever Easter egg. When Shuri tells Everett Ross that she wants him to remote-pilot a Talon fighter, she tells him, “It’s like riding a hover bike.” This is almost certainly a reference to T’Challa’s skybike from Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr.’s 2005 run on Black Panther. The hover bike was similar to Hawkeye’s trademark ride, but of Wakandan design.
In the film both Shuri and Everett Ross use the Kimoyo bead behind their ears to remotely pilot a car and a Talon, respectively. In the comics, T’Challa has taken control of and landed a commercial airliner, but it was with his Kimoyo card. However, the hard light interface that appears for the Kimoyo bead wearer to “drive” is something new created for the film.
It’s made clear in this film that CIA Agent Everett Ross would be dead if his care had he been left to Western medicine. However, the genius of Shuri and her medical Kimoyo beads keep im alive. While Kimoyo cards were introduced during Christopher Priest’s late-1990s run on Black Panther, Kimoyo beads and bands are new additions to the lore, introduced in 2016 by Coates and Stelfreeze.
The Kimoyo card is a highly advanced PDA, while the Kimoyo bead is a computing module programmed with specific purposes. When several beads are banded together, they can be used for myriad applications. The Kimoyo beads Shuri places behind the ear were created for the film.
Shuri and the Wakandan Design Group also pulled off a miracle by deprogramming James “Bucky” Barnes. While her revolutionary work is only alluded to in the film and in the post-credits scene, Avengers: Infinity War Prelude goes into much more detail. We see how Shuri creates a one-to-one digital representation of Bucky’s brain so she can test theories without risking harm to the physical tissue. And after months of work, she comes up with a algorithm that is able to “flush the influence of the trigger words out.” It’s right after she explains this to T’Challa that Shuri claims she is smarter than Tony Stark.
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