I see what you're saying. It's kinda like how I believe a character like The Shadow should not be updated to the present day when the remake gets rolling. Otherwise, it'll be hard. Same with Doc Savage, or whomever. John Carter of Mars as an American soldier fighting in Iraq wouldn't work.
I do believe that if this new Phantom movie had elements of an African Civil War, it might be more relevant to today's audience. It'll be tricky because it might be touchy. Then again, there's some create leeway since The Phantom's homeland is fictitious.
It'll be tough because you don't The Phantom to be too grounded (that's why the Singh Brotherhood needs to be involved), tacky or heavy. It still has to be fun.