The Pioneering Black Sci-Fi Writer Behind the Original Wakanda

MIT rarely allows Hollywood films to be shot on their campus. So it was a surprise when an email went out in 2021, alerting students that a film titled Summer Break would be filming at the school. Turns out, this was the working title of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

But something else was special about Wakanda Forever’s filming location. The MIT scenes were shot a stone’s throw from where, a century before, Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins worked at the Institute. Hopkins is credited with inventing the setting that eventually became Wakanda in her science fiction, but her name isn’t widely known.

“She was a powerhouse, an innovator and an intellectual dynamo.”

Let Us Now Praise Brutal Women

Suddenly, massive blockbusters resolve around the power of a woman’s body, to a greater degree than its sexualization. These brutal women are the wickedly, unapologetically powerful characters redrawing the genres that so long excluded them—and doing so not as novelties, but as icons.