Wanted; Wakanda’s High-Speed Rail

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

The debate about high-speed rail is too focused on cost. As a result, the high-speed rail authority has spent a lot of time trying to make the project cheaper, not better.

That’s not working—the costs will always seem like a lot. The better approach is to focus on awesomeness. Since it’s going to cost a lot, it’s gotta be something special.

Fortunately, we have a vision of such a high-speed rail: the one that serves Wakanda, the possibly fictional African nation ruled by the Black Panther in a move of the same name. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should: it’s great. It also offers a compelling vision of futuristic design.

There are important things about this high-speed rail network. First, it goes right into the heart of the city, and doesn’t sit on the outskirts of downtown (that’s a lesson for Bakersfield, which has at times balked at a truly downtown-centered station). And it links nicely with other transport, including a system of hovering streetcars.

The high-speed rail is also technologically advanced – it uses mag lev, but in some sort of hyperloop way that’s not explained. The power of the mag lev is totally sustainable, and yet powerful enough it ends up – spoiler alert – affecting the powers of the movie’s villain, who comes to Wakanda from Oakland.

Since the film’s director and executive producer are both Californians, I’ve wondered whether the defeat of a California-based villain by an infrastructure project is some sort of larger comment on the Golden State’s infrastructure failures.

All this runs on the element that Wakanda has used to make itself rich—vibranium, a metal that exists only in Marvel comics. So an exact copy isn’t possible. But as California enters a new governorship, let’s not just save high-speed rail. Let’s make it something truly awesome.

Comment on this article


Please note, statements and opinions expressed on the Fox&Hounds Blog are solely those of their respective authors and may not represent the views of Fox&Hounds Daily or its employees thereof. Fox&Hounds Daily is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the site's bloggers.