We’ve got another easy one this week.
When Black Panther came out just over a year ago, it created huge waves throughout the genre of superhero movies and the broader pop culture. If the Academy Award for Best Picture was awarded simply in terms of cultural legacy, Black Panther unquestionably deserved the trophy that Green Book regrettably took home. But we’re not here to talk about that (besides, many far more qualified than I have already detailed the importance of Ryan Coogler’s African superhero epic). We’re here to talk about how Black Panther effects our existing Marvel timeline, and the answer isn’t nearly as earth shattering.
Like last week’s entry on Thor: Ragnarok, this is going to be a short one, so let’s get to it.
But first, the rules…
Rule #1: Only the movies are canon.
Rule #2: Title cards are always true.
Rule #3: References to dates in spoken dialogue are always true unless they conflict with rule #2.
Rule #4: Written dates that are prominently displayed in the world are usually true, unless they disagree with rules 2, 3, or each other.
Rule #5: Props and background objects that can be tied to a specific date almost never count.
The film opens with a brief history of Wakanda, and while no explicit dates are given, we’re given kind of a broad overview. Wakandan society was born out of the discovery of an ancient impact site where a vibranium meteorite struck the Earth and changed the ecosystem around it. At some point before slavery and colonization came to Africa, Wakanda isolated itself to protect its society from the outside world.
We jump forward to 1992 and the death of N’Jobu at the hands of king T’Chaka.
We jump forward again to the “Present Day,” which, thanks to a news report we can immediately clarify as summer of 2017 – one week following the events of Captain America: Civil War.
The 30 years here is almost certainly in reference to N’Jobu working with Klaue to steal vibranium back in 1992. That’d technically be only 25 years, but you round up and it’s close enough. Besides, we should be used to this by now given the genuinely bizarre rounding at play with regards to how long Captain America was on ice.
A bit more information on the history of Wakanda, albeit from a decidedly unreliable source. “Thousands of years,” though, is vague enough to be broadly accurate either way.
If we’re meant to take this literally, this would mean T’Chaka had only been king for a short time before Klaue’s infiltration into Wakanda and the subsequent killing of N’Jobu.
As we’ve come to expect with these, Black Panther takes place over the span of roughly a week. There’s the opening attack scene, T’Challa’s coronation the following day, the mission to Korea the day after that, the return home two days later, Killmonger’s coup, and T’Challa’s efforts to reclaim the throne.
And that’s it. Another quick one, which is something of a mercy 18 weeks deep into this project. But Feige giveth and Feige taketh away, and I’m worried this easy streak ends next week with Avengers: Infinity War.