Will There Ever Be a Kurdish Superhero?
Marvel’s long-anticipated film “Black Panther” arrived on the world stage this week. Black Panther, the first known superhero of African descent, was introduced to readers of the “Fantastic Four” in July 1966.
In the original Black Panther story, T’Challa (also called the Black Panther) is the king of Wakanda, and he owns a mine containing the most powerful metal on Earth, vibranium. T’Challa invites the Fantastic Four to Wakanda so he can check out their technology. He then challenges each of them to a fight and beats them one by one. However, he did not count on the Human Torch’s friend Wyatt Wingfoot, who saves the Fantastic Four from the Black Panther’s traps.
After this, it is revealed that the Black Panther is, in fact, a good guy, and we learn his back-story. For hundreds of years, his ancestors lived in Wakanda, and his father, King T’Chaka, was the protector of his lands. A bad guy named Klaw came to Wakanda with his own weapons to steal the vibranium, and he killed King T’Chaka. Even though T’Challa was still a child, he got hold of Klaw’s weapons and drove him away. He then got his superpowers from a special plant, and gained the panther’s agility, strength, and heightened senses. His costume is made of vibranium.
The Black Panther film, directed by Ryan Coogler, touches on this story. It explains the story of Wakanda’s history quite well, except in the movie, T’Chaka is killed while speaking at the United Nations, and the story takes shape from there.
The first film about an Africa-born superhero has a lot to teach us, but “Black Panther” is not the first film about a Black superhero. That honour belongs to Robert Townsend, who wrote, directed, and starred in the historic 1993 superhero comedy, “Meteor Man”. Even so, with a budget of $200 million, 90% of the cast is of African descent, most of the film takes place in an African country, and the film is really good.
Fans of the Marvel cinematic universe, or MCU, are going to love the movie. Despite a few weaknesses in the script, it is full of underlying messages. At the same time, it has a lot of similarities to previous MCU films, and the actors do a wonderful job.
The opening scenes are very good, but after this, there are a few problems. Compared to the origin stories of the first four superheroes before the Avengers, it might be said that the Black Panther had to grow up rather quickly. But anyway, this film will always have a unique place in cinematic history, and it’s a must-see production.
Until recently, in the United States, Black people were treated as second-class citizens. They had very few rights throughout most of American history, and they still face a great deal of inequality and hardship today. This brings Turkey’s Kurds to mind, whether we want it to or not, because the similarities between African Americans and Kurds are undeniable.
The first Black superhero appeared in the United States right in the middle of the most violent years of the Civil Rights movement. In the first story the Black Panther’s plan is upset by an ordinary young white man, but even he does not get very far.
The Kurds do not yet have a superhero. In earlier articles, we talked about the Turkish superheroes in various comic book franchises around the world, but none of these franchises has yet created a Kurdish-origin superhero.
Still, we need to mention some Kurds who appeared in one issue of a Marvel comic. In “Wolverine Origins” issue number 47, written by Daniel Way, Wolverine, his son Daken, and the Hulk’s son Skaar come to Ankara in pursuit of Wolverine’s father, Romulus.
However, just when the trio has cornered Romulus, they are attacked by Kurds. Wolverine tells everyone the attackers are Kurdish. The setting is depicted much like Ankara (with a Red Cross ambulance instead of a Red Crescent ambulance as the one mistake), and the Kurds are wearing traditional clothing when they start their battle against the three heroes.
In the comic book, most people in Ankara are depicted wearing coats and ties, so it is not really clear how a band of Kurds wearing traditional dress and carrying rocket launchers suddenly appears in the middle of the city. Also, the last surviving Kurdish attacker straps on a bomb and blows himself up shouting “Allahu akbar!”. Turkey’s Kurdish rebels, however, began as Marxist-Leninists and now advocate a form democratic confederalism.
In other words, Kurds are shown as bad guys. They do not just attack superheroes; they are suicide bombers. It is not known why Daniel Way depicted Kurdish people like this, but we hope that Kurds one day get the superhero they deserve.
Before ending this article, there is a bit more I would like to say about the Black Panther because this superhero’s story has quite a few subtle messages in its pages.
Henry Dumas was a Black poet, writer, and teacher who lived in New York from 1944 until 1968. He was tremendously influential in the Black Aesthetic Movement and on African-American poetry. Unfortunately, when he just 33 years old, he was shot and killed by transit police on a subway platform.
There was only one short AP news story about the murder, which said that the police killed a Black man carrying a knife. This would have been completely out of character for Dumas, but very few people knew this at the time. Almost no one paid attention to the murder, but Henry Dumas was not forgotten.
In the opening of the third issue of “Black Panther 2016”, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates brings the Dumas story back to life by including the writer’s most important poem, “Root Song.” This has great significance for some.
Who knows, perhaps one day a Kurdish superhero will emerge from the lands of Kurdistan, with the words of Kurdish dissident writer and intellectual Musa Anter among the drawings. Is this a dream? Dreams are still beautiful, and there is always the possibility they will come true.