France’s defense minister has denounced the way he says French soldiers deployed in Africa appear to be depicted in the Marvel Studios superhero film “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” as “false and misleading.”
Minister Sebastien Lecornu “strongly condemned” the similarity of a fictional group of villainous mercenaries with French armed forces members, in a tweet published Sunday about the film, which came out in November in France and the U.S.
The plot of the film involves a fictional African country, Wakanda, faced with Western nations seeking to control fictional metal resources across the continent.
A scene from the film retweeted by the minister shows a group of soldiers with their hands tied behind their backs, wearing uniforms very similar to those of French troops deployed in Africa’s Sahel region, being brought before the United Nations in Geneva. The movie scene depicts mercenaries captured by Wakandans after they attacked an outpost in Mali.
“I am thinking of and honoring the 58 French soldiers who died defending Mali, at its request, in the face of Islamist terrorist groups,” Lecornu added.
The issue is sensitive in France, which completed its withdrawal from Mali last year after nine years fighting Islamic extremists alongside regional troops. Tensions have also grown over the past year between Mali, its African neighbors and Western nations after Mali’s transitional government allowed Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group to deploy on its territory.
France has recently announced it is withdrawing troops from Burkina Faso this month following a demand by the West African country’s military rulers.
About 3,000 French soldiers remain deployed in the Sahel region, many of those based in Niger and Chad.