*The blockbuster hit “Black Panther” was one of the highest-grossing movies in Marvel Studio’s history, earning a whopping 1.3 billion dollars in the box office, according to BoxOfficemojo.com. The movie has been a considerable source of pride in the African American community, and some experts have signaled the film as a beacon of opportunity for more Black producers and directors in film.
However, several of the large movie studios and conglomerates in Hollywood have been notorious in recent history for lifting scripts, without giving credit to authors for their creative and intellectual properties. It’s almost standard fare for the film and music industries. With the foregoing in mind, the question on the table is … is the blockbuster hit “Black Panther,” produced by Marvel Studios, one of the biggest movie studios in the world, guilty of stealing the script from an existing African tribe? Saint Michael of the Gikuyu Nation of Africa, an ambassador of Mt. Kenya, says an emphatic yes.
Michael, an Ambassador of the Gikuyu Tribe and Gikuyu Civilization (www.yamumbi.com), maintains that Marvel Studios engaged in “criminal conduct,” and “illegally appropriated the idea of Black Panther from the tribe in Africa.” In a statement issued on blackpantherlawsuit.com, a site that is “not a lawsuit site,” but a “criminal report” site, according to Michael, they maintain that Marvel/Disney Studios “indoctrinated the public for 53 years to believe that Wakanda was 100% fictitious, but now there is proof registered for with the federal government that the fundamental building blocks of the story belong to Mt. Kenya.”
“The similarity that connected the two (Mt. Kenya and Black Panther) was actually observed in the Black Panther movie,” said Saint Michael, “when you see him drinking the extract from the sacred herb.”
Michael, who is a producer and songwriter, was involved in making hits for several recording artists. He decided to diversify and enter the commodities industry in Africa. While there, in 2015, he began an association with the Botswana tribes, which led to his associations to the Gikuyu Nation of Mt. Kenya. He learned their traditions and their history, including tribal secrets protected by ancient norms and family traditions. In March, 2016, he received an appointment letter from Samuel Kamitha, Chief Messenger, Voice, and Custodian of the Gikuyu Nation, who was trained from the College of Seers, an ancient tribal tribunal which consists of elders designated to protect the sacred traditions and wisdom of the tribes. Michael later became one of the elders … an ambassador entitled to speak on the tribe’s traditions, customs and affairs. And now he’s using his voice to protest a wrong- the unauthorized use of their traditions in a mass-produced movie.
At issue- a conflict of interest, at least. According to Michael, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, creators of the Black Panther character for the Marvel comic book series, worked for the military and had access to the tribe’s ancient secrets, the genesis of their action against Marvel Studios.
“Through the colonial period (of the Gikuyu Nation) the information leaked into Jack Kirby’s hand, and Jack Kirby turned around and misappropriated it, through creations that were in the Black Panther comic, which became the Black Panther movie,” said Michael. “When that type of expressive conduct that is displayed there in that issue (the comic book explanation of the beginnings of Black Panther), when that is corroborated by material evidence, such as the source work found on www.yamumbi.com, it qualifies as a statement against interests, an incriminating statement, so it’s admissible in court,” said Saint Michael. “It establishes motive and intent of Jack Kirby to give credit to the Jiru people.”
When Michael, who was trained in the ancient customs of the Gikuyu Nation screened “Black Panther,” he was stunned.
“It was blatant, it’s an obvious thing,” said Michael, who noted the similarities of Mt. Kenya and Black Panther immediately. ”When the movie first came on, the very first thing you observe in the Black Panther movie is the story of Mt. Kenya. The very first thing I see is exactly what I’ve been teaching people for two years prior to that.”
At press time, the attorneys for the Gikuyu tribe maintain that Marvel/Disney “has their hands caught in the cookie jar,” and that action, starting with government charges of wrongdoing is part of the remedies the Gikuyu Nation are seeking.
Calls and e-mails to attorneys of Marvel Studios and Disney were not returned as of press time.
For more information regarding the action, visit www.blackpantherlawsuit.com.