One of the MCU’s defining features at this point is how it carefully answers questions while adding numerous questions in return. Marvel’s latest book release, The Wakanda Files, tries to shed light on where things stand heading into Black Widow. Troy Benjamin is game to explore all the corners of the cinematic universe, and there are secrets literally in the margins with the Kimoyo Beads included with this tome. It’s impressive and comprehensive to boot. Every MCU fan that can’t stop obsessing over the Marvel Studios brand's minutiae will likely be thrilled to have this book handing heading into 2021.
There’s a scientific basis for the whole exercise. Benjamin frames the entire book as a collection of Shuri’s notes compiled around Wakanda from Black Panther and the Avengers, who grow more numerous by the day. She has field notes, transcripts of voice recordings, and literal texts from these movies' very fabric. As a bonus, Wakanda Files tucks in some exciting concept art from these wild characters. The Black Panther’s younger sister wants to get to the bottom of everything. It becomes clear while reading that this coalition of heroes could have sorely used her in Avengers: Endgame.
For the fans still reeling from Endgame’s wild ride, Shuri stuffs this tome to the brim with details about the Infinity Stones, Tesseracts, and the details that lead the Avengers to that point. Those who feel like The Incredible Hulk didn’t get its due will be surprised to see a good chunk of the sections on Bruce Banner focus on the film's events. But that’s the beauty of this volume; everyone gets at least a passing mention on this tumble through Marvel history.
While perusing that history, it is funny to note that some of the interactions that happen in these pages are colorful enough to wish that they had occurred in the films themselves. Special shouts out to the Wakandan government, scolding their princess for remotely controlling a car in Black Panther. Other highlights include Falcon asking for some help with his suit and Tony Stark casually mentioning that he was poking around time travel before any of the Thanos business got rolling. It all feels like Palpatine returning in Fortnite rather than in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Cool stuff, but it would have been awesome to see on-screen.
So, The Wakanda Files is a great gift for hardcore MCU fans. If you don’t have that corner of your brain where the timeline of Bucky being captured by Hydra and eventually becoming the Winter Soldier full, there is some fun to be had. While this is mostly beefing up the 20+ movies that came before it, these sorts of deep dives are entertaining because there’s so much room for insight in the margins.
The Wakanda Files is published by Epic Ink, written by Troy Benjamin, and available now for $60.