This story first appeared in the February 2018 edition of The Hilltop.
“Black Panther” flaunted the charismatic qualities that make Marvel fans flock to the theater. For months, excitement grew among fans of superhero movies, particularly African American fans.
Finally, Marvel made room in lead roles for both people of color and women.
In the film, a power struggle develops involving not only the rightful ruler of the African nation Wakanda, but also addressing the technologically advanced society and those who may – or may not – have access to it.
Not only did it portray an array of impressive visual effects, dramatic fight scenes and an intricate storyline, it also challenged its audience to think in a new way. Beckoning a discussion about the significance of representation in media, the film is considered a landmark by many – especially for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Picking up where “Captain America: Civil War” left off, “Black Panther” followed the story of King T’Challa, facing adversity after being crowned the king of Wakanda following his father’s death. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the panther, is challenged by Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) for his position as king.
With a 97 percent critic rating and 77 percent audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film far exceeded my expectations and was without a doubt my favorite Marvel movie to date.
The film also boasts the fifth largest opening weekend of all time with ticket sales pushing $235M.
The vibrant colors and African culture depicted in “Black Panther” were the aspects that, to me, placed it above MCU’s previous films. My appreciation stemmed from its refusal to shy away from providing African American and female leads, as well as sticking to the amazing music, colors and plot Marvel delivers.
More than simple representation in the cinematic universe, however, this film was not afraid to touch on the unequal representation among women and minorities in the real world.
The plight of 2 million brothers and sisters of African origins was not ignored.
The film brought back into the limelight the brutal history and unfair present that African Americans face today.
This movie displayed a vibrant and beautiful blend of African cultures, giving not only the MCU, but superhero films as a whole a new look at diversity. Costumes, tribal masks, music, food and customs were equally authentic and original.
Another controversial issue brought to light to be discussed and picked apart over the course of the film was that of immigration and foreign aid. With the technological and economical resources available to the country of Wakanda, the characters seemed divided on whether they should be doing more for the rest of the world that they are hiding from.
Should they be bringing in refugees? Sending out medical teams? Building relief centers?
Or should they stay hidden from the turbulent world and protect their own as they always have?
Like most controversial issues, both sides are criticized before finding a compromise. Overall, while not shying away from controversial or sensitive issues, the film has a gentle answer to most of them.
“Black Panther” provided the entertainment of its precursors from Marvel, falling behind only “The Avengers” in opening weekend sales, yet added a thought-provoking aspect for viewers in the process.