Wakanda forever: Barack Obama deepfaked into ‘Black Panther’


The deepfakes just keep on rolling. A YouTube creator with the handle Sham00K, the same account behind the Will Smith “Matrix” video, has overlaid Barack Obama’s face onto Chadwick Boseman’s Marvel superhero Black Panther, Futurism reports.

Obama’s likeness appears in scenes from the 2018 blockbuster film. Most notable is the scene where T’Challa delivers a speech to the United Nations about how Wakanda is ready to connect with the wider world. It’s a familiar depiction as Obama memorably (in real-life) addressed the United Nations several times.

What’s more, Sham00K used the AI-powered social media account Stable Voices to synthesize Obama’s voice. There are also some really cool scenes, like the one of Black Panther emerging from the burning Royal Talon Fighter. Overall, it’s an apt homage to both the “Black Panther” film and the former president.

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Presidential Personalities

Unsurprisingly, Sham00K isn’t the first person to use Obama in an altered video. Who could forget Jordan Peele doing his famous Obama impersonation atop an AI-altered video? Peele and his production company made the video way back in 2018 without the aid of Stable Voices. Who needs it when Peele’s impersonation is so spot on? Peele’s Obama skit also makes a Black Panther reference (“Killmonger was right”) and utters the phrase “Donald Trump is a dipshit.”

Speaking of which, deepfakers seem to be nailing presidential personalities in their videos. Recently, a YouTube account called Ctrl-Shift Face inserted Donald Trump’s face into a scene from AMC’s hit show “Breaking Bad.”

In it, Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman is deep faked as Donald Trump to tell Aaron Paul’s character Jesse Pinkman, who the deepfakers cleverly portray as Jared Kushner, how to launder money. The video, dubbed “Better Call Trump,” also uses Stable Voices to enhance its realism.

Stable Voices has had a lot of fun at Trump’s expense. If you need a good laugh in these troubling times, check out the “A Stable Genius Explains” series. There are some good videos like “A Stable Genius Explains Rain” or “A Stable Genius Explains Walls.” There is also Stable Voices’ take on Donald Trump as Ralph Wiggum—although that’s a little insulting to the bumbling but beloved Simpsons character.

Not a Stretch of the Imagination

Though the “Black Panther” AI video and others are a lot of fun, deepfakes can also be dangerous. There has been a lot of concern at the highest levels of government that altered videos could aid criminal activity. Leaders and lawmakers are especially concerned that fake videos could influence voters. Recently, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that makes deepfakes illegal in California during election season.

While altered videos can be used for ill-gotten gains, making them illegal is problematic for free speech reasons. As the world has seen, deepfakes can also be funny or even informative. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to think about Barack Obama as a superhero—or Donald Trump as a criminal.

As such, lawmakers should more carefully consider their stance on deepfakes as more widespread legislation is likely to take hold.