(CNN) — France’s Defense Minister has slammed Marvel’s movie “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” for what it calls a “false and misleading representation” of French troops.
“I strongly condemn this false and misleading representation of our Armed Forces,” French defense minister Sébastien Lecornu tweeted on Sunday.
In the franchise’s second installment, which was released in France in November 2022, the people of Wakanda — a fictional African country — are trying to protect the nation’s resources from foreign powers. During the movie, a group of mercenaries is caught stealing resources belonging to Wakanda.
The defense minister’s reaction comes after a French journalist on Saturday pointed out the similarities between the camouflage uniforms of those mercenaries in the movie and those of the French troops who operated in Mali for almost ten years.
“I think of and pay tribute to the 58 French soldiers who died defending Mali at its request against Islamist terrorist groups,” Lecornu said on Sunday on Twitter, responding to the journalist.
“While all the other elements of the film are fictional names and places there is a clear designation of France. The French military is painted as being involved in pillage of resources of the country and of course that is unacceptable,” a French Defense Ministry spokesperson told CNN in a phone call on Monday.
“We are not asking the studio to remove the movie or anything, on the other hand it is the role of the minister to defend the French military who were engaged in Mali to defend the country against terrorist groups,” the spokesperson added.
France, which is a former colonial power, first entered the Sahel region in January 2013 at Mali’s request and launched Operation Serval, a United Nations-sanctioned ground and air operation against Islamist militants.
The mission was succeeded in August 2014 by Operation Barkhane, a broader French anti-terror initiative targeting Islamists across the Sahel, including in Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.
But the relationship between Mali and French-led forces has deteriorated since the 2020 coup d’état and the subsequent establishment of a military junta in Mali, especially after the deployment of Russian mercenary group Wagner in Mali at the end of 2021.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced in June 2021 that the mission would be replaced by a more international effort, and Western troops began withdrawing from Mali in February last year though they remain in Burkina Faso.
CNN has reached out to Disney for comment.
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