THE UNSUNG NEW HERO OF DISNEY’S STREAMING GIANT
On December 10th, Disney held its annual Disney Investor Day, unveiling a smorgasbord of new films, tv shows, and projects for 2021 and beyond that left fans hungry for what is to come. The event made one thing very clear: the future of Disney and perhaps entertainment as a whole has found its home in our homes through streaming services like Disney+. A multitude of projects, such as several new Star Wars shows and movies like Lightyear, were announced all to release on Disney+ on the day of release. However, one little project with no ties to ongoing Disney, Marvel, LucasArts, or Fox series has gone under the radar, and this little project that could be the most inspiring new property to come from this day. The project is an animated TV series called Iwájú, set to release on Disney+ in 2022.
Iwájú is important not only because it is one of the few wholly original projects to come out of the dozens of announcements, but also because it will feature black African characters written and created by an African team. Iwájú will be made in partnership between Disney and African comic book publisher Kugali Media. While little is known about the story, we can see that there is a strong resemblance to and possible inspiration from the Afrofuturism featured in Black Panther. The show will be set within a futuristic African society and focus on the future as a concept with black leads helming the story. The word itself, Iwájú, means “The Future” in Yoruba.
Disney’s decision to work with Kugali is an exciting step for black storytelling in mainstream media. Kugali is an entertainment company that, for years, has utilized comic books and art to amplify African history and futures through their stories. Now, with Iwájú, they have a chance to inspire black fans all over the world with an inventive new world and story.
Afrofuturism is a fresh new genre blending black stories with traditional, futuristic science fiction. While Black Panther popularized this trend, Iwájú is breaking new ground as the first mainstream television show working within the genre. 2022 might be a long way off, but Disney’s partnership with Kugali on this new show spells a promising future for African storytelling in our media.