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Film review: Marvel’s “Black Panther” highlights Black excellence

Photo+courtesy+of+Disney+Studios
Photo courtesy of Disney Studios

Photo courtesy of Disney Studios

Photo courtesy of Disney Studios

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“Black Panther” is the most universally accessible Marvel film to be released while also being the most socially conscious.

This film follows T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the new king of the African country of Wakanda, and as such, the new Black Panther, a hero that is wildly powerful. As he adjusts to his new position, he and his trusted allies must face incredibly strong adversaries with the very fate of their country at stake.

Wakanda possesses the only mines that have access to the strongest metal in the world, vibranium. Because of that resource, they are able to create a society far superior to everywhere else. What to do with that resource becomes the baseline conflict of the film.

Looking at the Marvel Cinematic Universe from afar can be incredibly intimidating. All of the characters with interwoven story lines and complex backstories can be a tough pill to swallow for a newcomer. Luckily, “Black Panther” provides just enough exposition at the very beginning making anyone able to watch it without skipping a beat.

Photo courtesy of Disney Studios

With “Black Panther,” comic book loyalists will feel wholly satisfied and at the same time casual viewers will be more than pleased.

Ryan Coogler has written and directed two other brilliant films, “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed,” both lead up to his greatest work to date, “Black Panther.” Like “Black Panther,” both films feature black protagonists while carrying important underlying messages.

The film was a cinematic masterpiece when it comes to its visuals and special effects. The entire world within Wakanda was created from scratch and on screen looks as if you could travel there tomorrow. Technology in Wakanda is advanced far beyond what the world can even dream of and the special effects that make that reality come to life is impressive in its own right. In one scene, the Black Panther and his adversary, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), are fighting as they plummet off of a cliff. The scene is so well made it’s easy to feel like you’re watching this happen in real life.

For the first time, a major motion picture turns the lens on the black experience without any white influence. As a whole, “Black Panther” is a celebration and much needed representation of traditional African customs including but not limited to dance, music, attire, and dialect. The costumes seamlessly switch from traditional African patterns to the hero attire most commonly associated with Marvel’s films. The heartbeat of each scene comes from a masterfully crafted soundtrack from the mind of Kendrick Lamar.

Coogler took this opportunity to highlight those that have been underrepresented and ran with it. A teenage black girl, played by Letitia Wright, is the head of all technological advancements in Wakanda. The army guarding the royal family of Wakanda is comprised of strong warrior woman, the General which is played by Danai Gurira. T’Challa’s love interest Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) is strong willed, independent and highly skilled. “Black Panther” took every opportunity available to highlight black greatness shining the light especially bright on black women.

Photo courtesy of Disney Studios

In the film, T’Challa is the royal legacy of his father. At the same time, the outstanding cast is a legacy in itself. It has been a long fight for the opportunity to have a worldwide platform to highlight black excellence in every way possible.

The existence of Wakanda also serves as a metaphor for many African countries today. What the world sees as desolate and in despair, the citizens see it for what it truly is; capable of great things and powerful.

The country of Wakanda is far superior to everywhere else on Earth. Their influence could assist people in ways unimaginable, but with that they run the risk of their peaceful way of life being destroyed. The central conflict in “Black Panther” is the struggle with responsibility. Is it the responsibility of Wakanda to provide aid to those in need? That same question can be applied on a grand scale in today’s world with the countless humanitarian crises happening across the globe and those in the position to help.

It also addresses the conflicts that are infinitely present across the globe. While Wakanda has traditionally stayed away from creating conflict unless absolutely necessary, the world has waged war around it. With T’Challa’s proclamation “the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers,” a larger call for peace is heard that can easily apply to the world we live in today.

Overall, “Black Panther” sends a message about hope. Hope for one to reach their full potential as well as hope for the world to come together as one.

King T’Challa said it best when he pronounced to the world, “we need to start seeing each other as one tribe.”

1 Comment

One Response to “Film review: Marvel’s “Black Panther” highlights Black excellence”

  1. Ntoki on February 16th, 2018 8:21 pm

    I’m eager to see the new Black Panther movie, but I find myself reading articles about it with a growing degree of unease. It’s wonderful that folks around the world seem so eager for an Afrocentric movie. As one who has lived briefly in South Africa, and traveled the continent widely I’m delighted that the world would be interested in the amazing cultures and peoples of Africa, especially in SS Africa. But when people begin to imply the movie is a celebration of African excellence represented in the nation of Wakanda, I have less warm feelings. Because – spoiler alert – Wakanda is not a real country. Not only that, there is nothing remotely like Wakanda anywhere in Africa. In Asia or the West, yes, but nowhere in Africa. There is no advanced success story in Africa. There are lots of reasons for this – exploitation, colonialism and the toxic influence of tribalism all contribute. But the reality is that no African country makes it even into the top 50 most advanced economies of the world. Resource rich Botswana (based on PPP Per Capita GDP) is the best and it staggers in at number 71 globally, South Africa at 89, and the next is Namibia at 102, the rest of the continent lags at the bottom globally.

    It’s embarrassing when your continent is seen as a greenhouse for failed states, but even worse if you’re told we have to make up total fictions (like Wakanda) to have any African successes to celebrate. I’m not sure what all this means, but getting excited about celebrating totally fictitious achievements makes me uneasy. We’ll see what comes of it, I suppose. But I fear it won’t lead to good, serious, hard conversations about what’s gone wrong in SS Africa and how we can help to salvage a continent.

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Film review: Marvel’s “Black Panther” highlights Black excellence