When Black Panther premieres this week, audiences will be introduced to the glorious city of Wakanda — a technologically advanced city hidden within the heart of the Africa. Wakanda is not only home to Black Panther and his people, but the powerful metal Vibranium. Vibranium is what gave Captain America his super shield, it’s also what gave Vision his body. Vibranium has other powers too, for instance, it infuses the heart-shaped herb that gives Black Panthers their powers. Based on the comics and a look at the trailers, it would appear that both T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) will be in pursuit of this herb and the power it gives to become the true King of Wakanda.
Mysticism in Wakanda
Despite it’s technological advancement, mysticism plays an important part in the lives of Wakanda and its inhabitants.
Forrest Whitaker plays Zuri, a shaman and one of T’Challa’s most trusted advisors. He plays an important in the ritual of the heart-shaped herb.
The Heart-Shaped Herb
In the comics, the heart-shaped herb is believed to have been a gift from the Panther God, Bast. The herb is a symbol of both power and strength in Wakandan lore. It grows in vibranium enriched soil in Wakanda. In order for someone to become the next Black Panther, he or she must cover their bodies in the juice of flower — something akin of taking the “waters” in Dune. According to the Marvel Wikia Database, the flower can grant the new Black Panther the following powers:
The user gains enhanced speed, agility, strength, endurance, healing and senses to Super-Soldier levels. The user’s senses are enhanced so they can now see in total darkness, track any scent, and hear an enemy’s heartbeat.
In the comics, Killmonger, attempted to make a synthetic version of the flower, which gave him powers similar to that of Black Panther. This could be what Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger attempts to do in the film, especially since his suit is almost identical to that of T’Challa’s. Killmonger’s body is also badly scarred in the trailer, which could be from trying the real heart-shaped herb and getting rejected by it. If Killmonger is trying to become the next Black Panther instead of T’Challa, then it looks like the film will not just be a superhero movie, but a film about royalty, succession and the power of mystically achieved ascension to the throne.
All of these elements and more will be front and center in Black Panther when it hits theaters on February 13 in the U.K. and February 16 in the U.S.