Whether it be Marvel or DC, superhero movies have typically highlighted cinematic universes centered around white men fighting to protect the West — until now.
Marvel’s 2018 breakout movie, “Black Panther,” released in the middle of Black History Month, is the first blockbuster film featuring an all black leading cast.
“Black Panther” takes place in the fictional country of Wakanda located on the African continent. Wakanda is Africa’s best kept secret. It is the most technologically advanced country in the world and the home of Vibranium, the world’s most treasured metal. They also have a king that possesses superhuman powers.
The film is visually surreal. Colorful sunsets shroud over a bountiful mountainous land that is clad with skyscrapers which act as canvases for Afrocentric art. Additionally, the costuming for Wakandan tribes are bright, intricate and alluring. The dress of each tribe incorporates stylistic elements of real cultural groups, paying homage to African culture.
The king of Wakanda is the Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, who has a duty to undo his father’s wrongs which ultimately leads to the development of his nemesis, a half-Wakandan half-American from Oakland, California named Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan.
Killmonger’s compelling retaliation to his oppressive conditions during his childhood make his character sympathetic and relatable, adding another dimension to the film’s dramatic plot. Killmonger’s story also allows the “Black Panther” narrative to create a call-to-action for oppressed people worldwide to fight for equality.
“Black Panther’s” portrayal of female power makes this movie even more intense and likeable. The king’s sister Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, is the country’s top tech wiz who builds the Black Panther’s fashionable, indestructible super suit and saves lives with her ability to heal using Vibranium technology.
The country and the Black Panther both rely on a fierce army of female warriors that fight and kill with smooth fearlessness. Particularly, Okoye, played by Danai Gurira, literally slays people while she slays her looks.
The Marvel film is still a PG-13 superhero movie that is made to appeal to 10-year-olds and 30-year-olds alike so the writing does feel like it is meant for immature audiences here and there. However, although the insertion of occasional comedic relief was a tad corny, it does not come across as tacky but surprisingly funny instead.
“Black Panther” is one of those movies you must take your little brother or sister to see. It celebrates heritage and blackness in a way that has never been seen before. This film’s debut marks the first time children of color get the opportunity to see a superhero in a leading role that looks like them.
I can’t wait to see the Halloween 2018 costumes that Black Panther inspires.