France’s defence 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”.
In a tweet on Sunday about the film that came out in November in France and the US, Sebastien Lecornu “strongly condemned” the similarity of a fictional group of villainous mercenaries to French armed forces members.
The plot of the movie 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 scene depicts mercenaries captured by Wakandans after they attacked an outpost in Mali.
“I am thinking of and honouring the 58 French soldiers who died defending Mali, at its request, in the face of Islamist terrorist groups,” Mr 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 neighbours 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.