Wakandacon, a three-day Afrofuturistic convention that celebrates Black culture, was created last year by siblings and Chicagoland natives Ali, David, and Matt Barthwell. They were inspired by the futuristic society depicted in Marvel’s comic book series and box-office hit Black Panther to curate a space for Black creatives that recaptures the communal magic of Wakanda. At the heart of the convention is the concept of Afrofuturism, an artistic and cultural framework for imagining tech-savvy, self-determined futures for Black communities.
First of all, I was lucky because I got to go. I was lucky to hear Joe Quesada introduce the film, not only because he was amusing but he was gracious enough to thank the event planners before he thanked the Hollywood bosses. Trust me, as someone who has worked events for more than 20 years, it’s unusual when someone says “Thank you.” He also thanked all the people who worked on the books, the source material for the movies.
And I was lucky because of the audience. The people in Manhattan’s Ziegfeld Theater on Tuesday were Marvel (and Disney) employees, freelancers, and their plus-ones. It was the kind of audience that cheered the coming attractions (Ant-Man), of course. They cheered the created-by credits. They cheered Stan Lee. From their cheers, I could tell that I picked up all the Easter eggs, thrown in for the fans in the audience by the fans who made the film.
The film. How was it? There may be SPOILERS, depending on how you define the term, although I will try to avoid the big ones.
If you haven’t seen the first Avengers movie, you might have some problems jumping into the plot of this one. If you haven’t seen any of the Iron Man, Thor or Captain America movies, you may miss a few key character developments. And if you didn’t watch Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this week, you missed the set-up.
None of this was a problem for me. I’m going to guess, given the name of this site, that it isn’t a problem for you either.
The plot, as you might surmise from the title, concerns the creation of Ultron, using the Infinity Stone from Loki’s staff (from the first Avengers movie) and Tony Stark’s tech. Ultron runs amok, and the rest of the movie involves our heroes trying to stop him/it. As they do, they first fight and then team-up with Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. In the process, many, many places suffer severe damage, including Wakanda.
(During the fight in Wakanda, our heroes must deal with the local police and, later, the military. In both cases, the first faces we see in uniform are white. Given current events, this took me out of the narrative for a beat.)
If I approach this review with my English class lessons, it is difficult to describe. There is no single protagonist, no character who has a transformative story arc. My future husband, Robert Downey, Jr., and the other heroes with their own film franchises (i.e. Captain America and Thor) do very little other than fight and trade quips, once they get past the exposition parts of the dialogue.
Instead, the revealing character moments belong to the Hulk, to Hawkeye, and the Black Widow. If anything is going to rile up the fanboys, it is the changes the movie makes to Hawkeye. Since I haven’t followed the character in the comics (although I’ve enjoyed a bunch of the new version), I wasn’t offended. I think it works for the character in the movie. It explains a lot about his relationship with Black Widow.
Here’s my favorite thing about the version of the Black Widow we get in these movies, a part of her character I credit to Joss Whedon (based on Buffy and Firefly): she not only holds her own with the male characters, but she has relationships with them that are collegial, not romantic. She is, first and foremost, a friend and an ally. While there seems to be some suggestion that she and Bruce Banner might click, even that possibility comes from the trust and respect they have for each other as teammates, not hot bodies.
Ultimately, The Avengers: Age of Ultron suffers from the fate of most middle films in a trilogy. There can’t be a real resolution because then there would be no need for the third movie. Still, there are a lot of pretty people doing a lot of pretty spectacular things, with plenty of explosions and lots and lots of fight scenes in exotic scenery.
Go. You’ll have a good time. Just don’t try to write an English theme about it.
She willingly wrote on a wall, when she had to have known that wouldn’t end well. She’s a nun. The Bible tells us the writing on the wall is an ill omen. As a nun, Maggie believes in the Bible devoutly and wouldn’t want to contradict its Word. When Sister Maggie wrote on the wall, she must have known bad things would happen. But she did it anyway?
Why? Because she thought she was making a political statement. And if she didn’t, Daredevil v4 #6 wouldn’t have had a story.
Margaret Grace was the mother of Matt (Daredevil) Murdock. Because of complications from postpartum depression, she abandoned her family while Matt was a baby, adopted a new name, and became a nun. (Yes, it’s a longer story, but as I don’t want a longer column, we’ll let it go at that.) Recently, she, Sister Barbara, and Sister Leora went to a military base in Riverdale, an affluent section of the Bronx. They had information the base was testing illegal and immoral chemical weapons. Something was up in the Bronx and they wanted to batter it down, so they did something to bring the matter to public attention by spray painting peace slogans on the base’s walls.
They were arrested, brought before a secret military tribunal, and told they were being extradited to Wakanda. In case you forgot, Wakanda is a small west African nation formerly ruled by T’Challa, the Black Panther. When Wakanda kicked T’Challa out, his sister Shuri became its queen. Shuri was a lot harsher than T’Challa.
Why did Wakanda care about a simple act of vandalism? Wakanda had purchased said base from America through some “highly clandestine, highly illegal” and untraceable transactions so it could engineer illegal weapons there “free of U.N. oversight.” The women “brought undue attention” to the base and nearly embarrassed Wakanda. Because the base was owned by Wakanda, it was “Wakandan soil within America’s own borders,” Wakanda claimed its law applied. Wakanda wanted to be sure the women were “suitably punished” so it had them quick-step extradited.
Of course Shuri’s also stupid. When conducting illegal arms manufacturing on a military base which you own because of a “highly illegal” transaction, you probably want to avoid any attention. Sure the nuns spray painting peace slogans brought some unwanted attention. But snatching them up and extraditing them in an illegal hearing where the women didn’t even have attorneys, isn’t the wisest course of action. Once word of what had happened leaked out – and as we saw in Daredevil v4 #6, word did leak out – the women would become a cause célèbre and that would only attract more unwanted attention.
Wakanda’s wiser course of action would have been to shut down the base – which it did anyway – then not press charges. Sure the women could make public statements, but they had already made public statements and were ignored. With the base no longer in operation, they wouldn’t have been able to prove their accusations. The matter would have blown over. But once the media got word that the women who tried to alert it to the base’s operations and then vandalized the base have disappeared, it would investigate.
So Wakanda didn’t follow its wiser course of action. Ever since Shuri took over, Wakanda has been ruled by its more dickish fringe. Its government is Shuri with the fringe on top.
Pointing out that Wakanda has more dicks than lunch with messrs. Nixon, Cheney, Grayson, and Butkus isn’t my main purpose, here. It’s a fun sideline, but my main purpose was to explore Wakanda’s claim that the military base was Wakandan soil, not American.
There is a common misconception that embassies are foreign soil. They aren’t. The embassies still the soil of, and under the jurisdiction of, the host country. Embassies are afforded special privileges by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which is why the host country can’t enter a foreign embassy without permission of the country represented by the embassy. But the embassy itself is not foreign soil.
If you commit a crime in an embassy, it will be the law of the host country that applies and the host country which prosecutes you, not the country whose embassy you were in. (Please note, I’m using the hypothetical you. I’m not advocating that you actually go out and commit a crime.)
In the same way, American military bases in foreign countries are not generally American soil. America doesn’t own the land on which the bases sit. It still belongs to the host country. America may lease that land, but when the base shuts down, the land reverts to the host country.
Look at Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba. Gitmo is on Cuban soil, not American soil. America leases the land on which Gitmo sits through a perpetual lease which dates back to 1903 and is the result of the Spanish-American War. But Gitmo is Cuban soil. That’s the primary reason America put the “military combatants” in the global war on terror in Gitmo’s detention center, because it’s not American soil so American laws, such as the writ of habeas corpus, don’t apply there.
The only difference here is that Wakanda didn’t lease the military base, it owned the base after illegally purchasing it from America. That does make a difference. When America purchased Louisiana and a whole bunch of other land from France in 1803, that land, which was formerly French soil, became American soil; lock, stock and beignets. After the sale, it was subject to American laws. So it is possible that, because Wakanda owned the base, the base was considered Wakandan soil.
I’m not an expert on this sort of law, but I did some quick research. And while I couldn’t find a definitive answer, what I did find indicated the rules of what is foreign soil differ when a military base sits on land that is owned by the country establishing the base as opposed to land that the base leases from the host country. So maybe the base was Wakandan soil.
Or maybe not. Lieutenant N’banta, the Wakandan military attaché, said Wakanda purchased the base through an illegal sale. An illegal sale could not properly convey legal title, so I’m not sure Wakanda actually owned the base. If I buy a stolen watch from a vendor on the corner, the watch is not legally mine. (Note, I’m also using the hypothetical I. I’m not confessing to a crime, either.)
However, even if the base was Wakandan soil and the nuns were subject to Wakandan law, Wakanda didn’t have the legal right to extradite them the way it did. While they were waiting to be extradited, they were jailed in Ryker’s Island. That is US soil. As long as they were on US soil, the nuns were was subject to US laws, including the laws governing extradition.Under US law, persons being extradited must be afforded due process of law. That includes the right to a public hearing and effective assistance of counsel. It doesn’t include a secret military tribunal before judges whose faces are hidden at which the detainee has no counsel.
The story explains the reason the three women were extradited without any of their constitutional rights was because Wakanda bribed a US General Eaglemore. (Really, General Eaglemore? Was General Patriotact taken?). Eaglemore helped Wakanda implement the illegal proceedings. So, while the extradition was wrong, the story wasn’t wrong. People, including generals, are bribed into doing highly illegal things all the time. A story isn’t wrong, when it shows something that actually happens happening.
Doesn’t really matter, either. In Daredevil v4 #7, Daredevil snuck into Wakanda and through his own bit of diplomacy – which was every bit as questionable as that shown by Wakanda earlier – secured the release of the three women. Then Daredevil and the three sisters all went home, nun the worse for wear.