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Marvel's Avengers - Black Panther: War for Wakanda is a fun and joyous next chapter in the Marvel video game universe. Naturally, you'll want to compare this depiction of the titular character and his home of Wakanda to its cinematic counterpart. There are a few similarities, but what the devs have built here goes beyond just another DLC. This new expansion is a celebration of diversity in the Marvel world.
We sat down with Christopher Judge (the instantly recognisable voice of Kratos from God Of War) to talk about him taking on the role of Black Panther in the DLC:
When I watched Black Panther for the first time in the cinema, I just fell in love with its portrayal of Wakanda and African culture. It was a colourful world, rich in history and despite it being fictitious, it felt very real and true. War for Wakanda follows in the MCU's footsteps and although it's following the source material a little more closely, it still captures the beauty of African culture. But don't just take it from me. When chatting with one of the narrative consultants behind the expansion, Evan Narcisse, he had this to say on it.
"I think one of the big imperatives here was to create an iteration of Wakanda that felt distinct unto itself... So one of the things that you'll see and hopefully feel in the game is that there's a different sense of Wakandan culture and history in this game that gets expressed through aesthetics."
And the aesthetics are absolutely stunning. The designs of the outfits on the characters reminded me of some of the traditional Algerian clothing. Although Evan described this expansion as being less of a fusion of African culture, it's still all very much African culture. And just like the film, it's made me want to go away and completely reinvigorate my wardrobe with more traditional outfits.
This expansion isn't just a celebration of diversity, but also a celebration of independence. Ulysses Klaue is the central antagonist and in many ways, what he's doing in this game is very much what has happened historically in the real world. Klaue is determined to steal vibranium, an element which is unique to Wakanda and its people. The way in which he attempts to take it isn't dissimilar to how the Western world colonised places in Africa to take their resources.
"Klaue is coming to scavenge natural resources that don't belong to him from a place he is foreign to, that is actual history on the African continent that happened. And I think, again, like I said, it's always been the subtext of Black Panther stories. So it's, I think, there is a strong thematic, like pillar in that regard with this story and war for Wakanda," Evan explains when discussing the story of War for Wakanda.
Only last year, I spoke about the importance of Marvel's Avengers with Kamala Khan, an American Muslim, playing the central protagonist. Here I am once again, reiterating the importance of this game because it has doubled down on its representation with the release of Black Panther: War for Wakanda.
There's a very real moment in the game, when you're exploring Wakanda. In the hallway of the hub building you'll come across Kamala and Clint having a conversation about being a minority. Clint comments on the fact that since arriving in Wakanda he's had a lot of people staring at him to which Kamala explains that it's because there, he is the minority. Clint doesn't like this feeling of being watched by everyone, but Kamala explains that while there might be people who look at you negatively, there's a thousand more who will smile at you.
While the gameplay itself in War for Wakanda is a lot of fun, it's really the representation that it brings which makes this a standout expansion. It'll have you wishing for a standalone Black Panther game so that we can continue to celebrate this incredible world and continue to give center stage to some of Marvel's diverse characters.
Crystal Dynamics continues to pave the way when it comes to representation and it's one of the many reasons I continue to enjoy Marvel's Avengers. There aren't many triple A games out there which truly celebrate the diversity of our world, so I'm thankful that this is something that's out there. It's pretty inspiring to me as an adult so I can only imagine how younger minorities might view this game. Seeing someone like them be celebrated, praised, and center stage.
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