“From one icon to another” read a caption promoting a recent collaboration between Marvel’s Black Panther and the estate of slain rap star Tupac. But for followers and fans alike, there were questions about the correlation between the Marvel superhero and slain rap star, with many calling a co-tribute to the two a massive reach.
The nine-piece collection, available exclusively at POP by Foot Locker, combines branding elements of Black Panther with Tupac’s images and album art, relying heavily on his posthumous album title, Until the End of Time (which, admittedly, does play well off “Wakanda Forever”). And as Marvel Licensing SVP Paul Gitter told ComicBookMovie.com:
“The intersection of music and Black Panther is such a vital part of that property, so it is fantastic to co-brand with an influential artist like 2Pac on a new collection of Marvel apparel.”
Now, last time I checked, Tupac’s music wasn’t featured on the Black Panther soundtrack, so what’s the connection here? Well, many have noted the rapper and actor was raised as a “cub” of the Black Panther Movement by activist mother Afeni Shakur—though according to Stan Lee, the comic has no correlation to the movement and reportedly predates the civil rights organization. In fact, Tupac’s name wasn’t even African; he was named after an 18th century Peruvian revolutionary.
So, whose bright idea was this questionable co-branding? That still remains a mystery, but if the estate cosigns it, all we can do is shrug. That said, there seems to be plenty of merchandise available—a few pieces have already gone on sale—so make of that what you will.