Marvel Studios is coming under fire — and this time it’s for alleged “propaganda”.
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The Walt Disney Company (and its Marvel Studios media machine) own the crazily popular Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). This cinematic universe of Marvel superheroes has been a public and fan favorite ever since Robert Downey Jr. debuted as the eponymous Iron Man/Tony Stark in the now-iconic Iron Man (2008). The Avengers (2012) directed by Joss Whedon followed, solidifying this superhero-heavy, epic crossover saga into general knowledge.
Now, Marvel Studios is getting called out by government officials, with their Marvel Cinematic Universe being described as a form of American “propaganda”. In fact, it was the latest Marvel Studios film that got highlighted — last year’s King T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) sendoff, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022), featuring Wakandan Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), T’Challa’s mother, sister Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright), General Okoye (Danai Gurira) of the Dora Milaje, T’Challa’s lover and War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) dealing with various interpretations of grief. Wakanda Forever also starred Martin Freeman (Everett Ross), Winston Duke (M’Baku), as well as Florence Kasumba (Ayo) and Michaela Coel (Aneka), as other key Dora Milaje warriors.
Related: ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Post-Credit Scene Explained
It may seem surprising to some that a show like Black Panther 2 would be considered American “propaganda”, as the movie’s action mainly takes place in the fictional countries of African Wakanda and Talokan — however it is important to note that the issue in contention was brought up via journalist Jean Bexon, who raised the point in a Twitter thread, that was later picked up by an official in the French Government. Bexon posted a clip of Wakanda Forever featuring a scene that took place in the MCU’s version of the United Nations (UN), which he titled “Propaganda”, claiming that the “American Marvel production” showed “evil French mercenaries”. He additionally highlighted the fact that the director Ryan Coogler was “African-American” — implying that this was a mode of American “propaganda” to portray the French in a negative light:
(translated) 📸 |Propaganda – In the latest American Marvel production (Black Panther Wakanda Forever), the evil French mercenaries operating in Mali are dressed as Operation Barkhane soldiers.
(continued) African-American director Ryan Coogler sets the frame for the sequence in Ansongo, Mali in the Gao region.
Le réalisateur afro-américain Ryan Coogler pose le cadre de la séquence à Ansongo au Mali dans la région de Gao. pic.twitter.com/K2fNgpZka1
— Jean Bexon (@jean_bexon) February 11, 2023
On top of claiming that this “geographic choice was not innocent”, Bexon goes on to accuse the American “Marvel Disney production” as “tak(ing) care” to “clearly designat(e)” France as the bad guy, showing that they wanted to “monopolize Wakandan resources” in the film.
(translated) France is clearly designated as a nation wanting to monopolize Wakandan resources in the outpost located in Ansongo, in the Gao region of Mali. Here, the Minister of Foreign Affairs 🇫🇷 is in the UN courtroom.
(continued) The Marvel/Disney production took care to equip the “French-speaking paratrooper mercenaries” (sic scenario) with outfits worn by our soldiers in Mali. Those who play the role of the bad guys are thus dressed like our soldiers from the Serval/Barkhane operations.
La production Marvel/Disney a pris soin d’équiper les “mercenaires parachutistes parlant français” (sic scénario) avec des tenues portées par nos soldats au Mali. Ceux qui tiennent le rôle des méchants sont ainsi habillés comme nos militaires des opérations Serval/Barkhane. pic.twitter.com/vyyRI02xTJ
— Jean Bexon (@jean_bexon) February 11, 2023
In response to this thread by Bexon, the prominent French official Sébastien Lecornu, France’s Minister of the Armed Forces, appeared in agreement with the accusations of American “propaganda” that painted France in a bad light. He “strongly condemned” the “false and misleading representation” of French Armed Forces, bringing up the fact that the French military had defended the area depicted in the film, in the past:
(translated) I strongly condemn this false and misleading representation of our Armed Forces.
I think and pay tribute to the 58 French soldiers who died defending Mali at its request against Islamist terrorist groups.
Je condamne fermement cette représentation mensongère et trompeuse de nos forces Armées.
Je pense et rends hommage aux 58 soldats français qui sont morts en défendant le Mali à sa demande face aux groupes terroristes islamistes. https://t.co/KpnFIcatPt
— Sébastien Lecornu (@SebLecornu) February 12, 2023
The tweet in question immediately went viral, garnering a whole host of comments — with many calling Lecornu out for being “four months late” and taking things out of context. The most liked reply to Minister Lecornu pointedly asks:
(translated) What are you going to do concretely? Call for a diplomatic boycott of Wakanda?
Tu va faire quoi concrètement ?
Appeler au boycott diplomatique du Wakanda ?
— Vilain Syndicaliste (@MarxFanAccount) February 12, 2023
Do you think American “propaganda” exists in Marvel films like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever? Share your thoughts in the comments below!