'Where Is Your God Now?' 3 Religious Objects of Worship in 'Black Panther'
Marvel's latest superhero movie, "Black Panther," proves surprisingly religious. Previous films like "Thor" (2011) and "The Avengers" (2012) use the language of "gods," but this term mostly refers to powerful beings like Thor and Loki — characters as opposed to deities characters worship. "Black Panther" changed that.
Rather than featuring this kind of character based off of a pagan god, "Black Panther" shows main characters praying to religious beings who remained offscreen, or invoking their aid against one another. Below, PJ Media has compiled a spoiler-free set of references for the three beings "Black Panther" characters worship or pray to.
1. "Glory to Bast!"
At the beginning of the film, the old king T'Chaka (John Kani) tells his son T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) about Black Panther's home country, Wakanda, in a flashback. After a meteorite made of vibranium — an extremely valuable substance — struck Africa, a warrior shaman had a vision "from the panther goddess Bast."
Bast is the earlier version of a better-known goddess Bastet, the Egyptian cat-headed goddess of warfare in Lower Egypt, while Sekhmet is the parallel warrior lioness in Upper Egypt. Later, Bast became Bastet, the protector of cats.
In the Marvel comics, Bast is a male god and the son of the Egyptian sun god Ra. He is a member of the "Ennead," extradimensional humanoid beings worshiped by the ancient Egyptians — so they are similar to the Norse gods like Thor and Loki, who are not strictly gods in the Marvel universe, but rather human-like beings on a higher plane of existence.
References to Bast run throughout "Black Panther." Main characters greet one another with the statement, "Glory to Bast!" When hoping for a miracle, characters say, "I call upon Bast," effectively praying to the goddess.
2. Glory to Hanuman!
Wakanda consists of five tribes, one of which is estranged from the other four. The Jabari tribe rejects the rule of the Black Panther (the superhero is also the nation's king) and they worship a separate deity, the ape god Hanuman.
At one point, the leader of the Jabari tribe, M'Baku (Winston Duke), challenges T'Challa for the throne of Wakanda. In declaring his challenge, he declares, "Glory to Hanuman!" In the middle of the fight, he goads T'Challa, saying, "Where is your god now?"
In the Marvel comics, the Jabari tribe worships a gorilla god called Ghekre. They follow the White Gorilla Cult, which contrasts with the Black Panther Cult.
"Hanuman" is the name of a Hindu deity in the epic Ramayana and other Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, and Sikh texts, notably in the Mahabharata, one of the central texts of Hinduism. His theological origins in Hinduism are unclear, but he has been associated with Indian nationalism, heroic valor, and devotion to his personal god. In later literature, he is the patron god of martial arts, and symbolizes the virtues of self-control and service to a cause. He is portrayed as a monkey.