Even though Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was released in the US and France back in November, on February 11, 2023 French journalist Jean Bexon discussed similarities between the military uniforms worn by film’s corrupt mercenaries and France’s army in the 1991 Gulf War.
On Twitter, he wrote: “In the latest American Marvel production (Black Panther Wakanda Forever), the evil French mercenaries operating in Mali are dressed as Operation Barkhane soldiers.”
Alongside the tweet, Bexon included a clip from the film that shows a group of soldiers with their hands tied behind their backs. They were donning uniforms similar to those of French troops deployed in Africa’s Sahel region and were being brought to the United Nations in Geneva.
French defense minister Sebastien Lecornu replied to Bexon about how disrespectful he believes the portrayal of the mercenaries was in the movie. He also retweeted the clip.
For those unfamiliar with the franchise, the storyline is about a fictional African country dealing with Western nations who want access to its metal resources.
Lecornu’s complaint was written in French but stated: “I strongly condemn this false and misleading representation of our Armed Forces. I think of and pay tribute to the 58 French soldiers who died defending Mali at its request against Islamist terrorist groups.”
For France, this topic is especially delicate. The country finished its withdrawal from Mali last year after almost a decade of fighting Islamic extremists adjacent to regional troops.
Most recently, France announced it plans to withdraw troops from Burkina Faso—which is located in West Africa—after demands by military rulers to do so. However, there are about 3,000 French soldiers still deployed in the Sahel region.