Black Panther and Legal Theory (woo!)

Black Panther is cool. T’Challa is cool. There is an undeniable sense of cool about how the story is presented and delivered through character design, concept, art style among other things. You know what’s not cool? The political structure of Wakanda (at least in the first volume).

Wakanda seems to be set up in a legal positivist- esque manner. For those who don’t know, Legal Positivism is the idea that the law is the law: essentially every citizen of a nation is legally obligated to follow the law regardless of any moral problems with it because legal positivists think that the law and morals should be kept completely separate. Monarchies tend to fall largely into this category: there is one head that can make decisions on behalf of the body (the nation).  Now, the decisions can be beneficial or detrimental to the body, but if the head makes it law, then the body must follow it because it is the law. This is a very loose definition of legal positivism, but you get the idea. (If you want a better idea, I dare you to read “Leviathan” by Thomas Hobbes)

Now, legal positivism isn’t inherently bad, it is just a way of looking at how the law functions (or should function) in any given society. It can be good if the leader is generous, writes well thought out laws and always makes decisions with the people’s best interests at heart. However, In Wakanda’s case, T’Challa seems distanced and not truly in touch with his people’s problems. This is where it appears as though the king is delivering kingly judgement on the poor victimized people when T’Challa goes out to quell rebellions (again, especially in vol. 1). It almost looks like a classist system oppressing the poor and denying them their voice: a.k.a: not cool.

Anyway, that’s where my mind took me this week. I’d like to see more of Wakanda in the future, although you readers may not want to hear where my mind goes when I figure out what their justice system looks like.



2 thoughts on “Black Panther and Legal Theory (woo!)”

  1. Hi Janna, this was post was awesome I learnt a something about Legal Theory – which isn’t something I expected to learn about when I joined this course so thanks! I think my biggest issue with Wakanda’s political/legal system is the lack of democracy/accountability that comes with monarch-based systems.
    Also, how T’Challa places himself as a scientist first is fine and obviously a source of personal conflict for him… but I get the impression that he considers this to be more noble/worthy position than ruling a country which unfortunately impacts negatively on his people by making him this ‘distanced’ ruler you mention. I would be interested to know how the science-oriented nation of Wakanda treats/encourages/discourages those favouring less scientific pursuits (I guess some of the treatment or skepticism Changamire faces could point to this).


  2. Hey Janna,
    I really enjoyed reading your post. I found the political background and structure of Wakanda quite confusing and it made it hard for me to understand the comic. After reading your blog I think I have a better understand of how it works and may need to go back and reread. Thanks!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s