(Note: This post contains light spoilers for a joke in “Black Panther”)
The African nation of Wakanda in “Black Panther” sports the most advanced technology on Earth, and it keeps it to itself, lest it fall into the wrong hands. For other characters coming from the rest of the world, though, stuff in Wakanda looks like it comes from the future.
“Black Panther” even makes a solid joke about the idea of fully possible stuff in Wakanda being the realm of science fiction movies everywhere else. One of the best jokes in the movie is about a piece of clothing that, in another movie, literally comes from the future.
Fairly early on in the movie, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) prepares to go on a mission as the Black Panther to hunt down Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), a black market arms dealer who stole a bunch of Vibranium from Wakanda.
Before he heads out on his mission, however, T’Challa gets some new gear from his brainiac sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), who serves as engineer and gadget guru for the king. Like Q to James Bond, Shuri outfits T’Challa in a bunch of new stuff, but not before making fun of his traditional, low-tech sandals.
Shuri offers T’Challa something better in the realm of footwear: Shoes that automatically tighten on the wearer’s foot. She notes that they’re like “those shoes from that old movie” their dad, King T’Chaka (John Kani) had told them about.
The movie Shuri’s talking about, of course, is “Back to the Future II.” In that film, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) travel forward in time from 1985 to 2015, where Doc hooks Marty up with futuristic Nikes. When he puts them on, the shoes automatically adjust, prompting Marty to exclaim, “Power laces! Alright!”
In our world, it’s 2018, and the “Back to the Future II” dream of self-tying laces is still mostly a fantasy. Nike did produce a limited run of the design from “Back to the Future II,” providing a pair to Fox. It also unveiled athletic shoes with power laces in 2016 that consumers could by — at a cost of $750 a pair.
With Wakanda so far ahead of the world in everything, it’s a wonder the nation doesn’t export a few of those future items to the rest of the world. It could make a killing bringing Marty McFly’s shoes to the rest of the MCU.