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Who Is Toussaint in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever?

CBR 11/20/2022 J.S. Sailes
© Provided by CBR

The following contains spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, now in theaters.

It's nearly a cliche to say that fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are accustomed to expecting a massive tease at the end of each new installment. They willingly and patiently wait through the swaths of names of those who made the movie they just witnessed in hopes of catching a tidbit that will hold them over until the next. As expected, fans continued the tradition when watching the highly anticipated Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. And while many expected to see a tease that expanded the MCU's world, few could have guessed the massive and touching reveal they'd witness.

While in Haiti, Nakia introduces Shuri, Wakanda's newest Black Panther, to T'Challa's secret son. While talking to his aunt, the boy calls himself Toussaint before revealing he has a secret. Toussaint is his Haitian name, but his true name -- his Wakandan name -- is T'Challa. Of course, this name is in honor of his late father and the great leader of his native country. However, it's likely many of the swaths of fans who came out to see Wakanda Forever did not realize that the Haitian name also has a significant meaning. Let's discuss the story behind Toussaint L'Ouverture, the Father of Haiti, and how T'Challa Jr. can live up to the legacies of both of his names.

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Who Is T'Challa's Haitian Namesake, Toussaint L'Ouverture?

Toussaint was born in Saint Domingue, modern-day Haiti, in 1743 when the island was still under colonial rule by the French. Saint Domingue was considered one of the most important trading areas in the entire world. That was thanks to the integral hand the island, split in half by French and Spanish rule, had in the supply of sugar to the world. That massive supply of that sugar was, of course, cultivated at the hands of enslaved peoples. And the only place in the world at that time that held more slaves within its borders was Brazil.

Born to educated slaves who helped him learn French in addition to his native languages, Toussaint proved himself to be gifted and was able to free himself and join Saint Domingue's small social class of wealthy free people of color. In 1791, slave revolts began across Saint Domingue and were often funded and supported by the Spanish. Not because Spain wanted to give them freedom but in hopes that doing so would destabilize the French's control of the region. And it was here where Toussaint became a Spanish military officer and a prominent leader. He would, however, switch his allegiances in 1794 when France's National Convention abolished slavery in its colonies. In the following years, Toussaint capitalized on the chaos of the French Revolution and became the de facto leader of Saint Domingue, thanks not only to his military leadership but political prowess.

Toussaint placed his people on the path to independence but ultimately was unable to see his vision come to fruition. After Napoleon's coup in 1799, the new ruler of France wanted to reinstate his power over the region. By 1802, Toussaint had gained control of the entire island for France by driving out Spanish control of the eastern Santo Domingo region. But that didn't stop Napoleon from launching an attack, arresting Toussaint and bringing him back to France. And it was there, while his people continued the fight for freedom, where Toussaint died in 1804.

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How the Story of T'Challa's Son Can Honor Legacies

While it is not a direct line, one can be drawn between Toussaint and T'Challa's stories. T'Challa had set his people on a new path of outreach motivated by anticolonial ideals. And yet, due to real-world tragedy, he was taken too soon and unable to see his vision become a reality. Thankfully, T'Challa's son is here to carry on his legacy and has the potential for great stories of his own.

While Shuri currently holds the title of Black Panther, there is no reason that the MCU can't explore the young T'Challa's journey to becoming a strong leader. In fact, he is in an interesting position, being placed between two worlds, similar to where Toussaint was when he first gained freedom. T'Challa is stuck between a fantastical and majestic nation rife with unlimited possibilities and the country he was raised in, which is still struggling with the ramifications of imperialism and poverty. An exploration, whether in a movie or a series, of T'Challa bridging the two countries and lifting his peoples, like his namesake, is a story worth telling.

To see T'Challa's son make his MCU debut, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now in theaters.

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