Right now, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is out. The film closes out Marvel’s experimental and divisive fourth phase of its cinematic universe, features much of the first film’s cast again and, once more has a major person present in a small circumstance.
Specifically, in the form of the Shuri character’s A.I. companion Griot. Griot came into being to help her in her lab, is more limited than Tony Stark’s Ultron, and is voiced by South African Trevor Noah of The Daily Show fame. Noah previously joked to Stephen Colbert he was initially asked to lead the franchise by director Ryan Coogler only to tell him he was too busy, declined being the villain due to not wanting an abundance of ripped dudes on set and then, chose the A.I. due to its ubiquity.
“I’m like, ‘I will be the voice of the computer in the background, the computer that runs everything’ — every spaceship you see is me. A lot of people think I just did the lines there, but I’m everything. I’m the ship as well. They got me in to play the ship.”
Of course, this is not the first time someone has appeared under the radar in a project. Dialogue from John Wayne was distorted and used early on for an alien voice in Star Wars, Star Trek creator Gene Rodenberry’s widow Majel appears in the 2009 film as the voice of the ship’s computer and Spielberg himself comes through on a radio in a certain sequence of his Jaws big break, too.
While none of these figures turned their minor moments into bigger stardom, it is possible Noah could in the future. His tenure on the franchise which rocketed him to stardom is coming to an end, A.I.’s have a history of becoming something more in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Griot role fits with his background in entertainment and being connected to the powerful via The Daily Show. In African history, the actual title refers to a traditional historian, storyteller, poet or musician. They would serve as an advisor to royalty, would have a wealth of knowledge in their heads and would often pass down information via the oral tradition.
More to (potentially) come. For now, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a hit we gave four stars out of five to in our review. It marries spectacle and heart, avoids being tasteless and also respectfully touches on the legacy of Indigenous cultures. Basically, though Namor may be an antagonist, it is hard to fully root against him and his people in spite of all they do through the story.