In what some critics, like CBS, are calling a monumental event in pop culture, the newest addition to the Marvel franchise is already making its mark. With its record-breaking box office weekend, becoming the fifth highest grossing film of all time, and having one of the biggest debuts in cinematic history by an African American director, Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther” is a film that will not disappoint.
Taking place after the events of “Captain America: Civil War” the Black Panther, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), prince of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, returns home after the death of his father so that he may take his rightful place as Wakanda’s king. As the now King, T’Challa first endures the obstacles of running his beloved country before his rule is suddenly tested when he’s drawn into a major conflict by the mysterious Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). This not only puts T’Challa’s country in danger, but the whole world is at stake. With help from loyal traditionalist guard General Okoye (Danai Gurira), CIA operative Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman), his innovative 16-year-old sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), and undercover spy ex-girlfriend, Nakia (played by oscar winning actress Lupita Nyong’o), T’Challa will do everything in his power to save the day before it’s too late.
Overall one of the most striking things about this film is its aesthetic. The costumes, designs, and scenery were all well done and absolutely breathtaking. One of the most challenging components I could see coming from this was the development of Wakanda, a country that doesn’t actually exist and I can imagine a lot of work went it into creating this fictitious nation. In the end, it definitely paid off and came out really fantastic. Almost every detail that went into making this, such as the capital city and the nature of the Wakandan people, were all well thought out and culturally significant as they tie to different African cultures.
One of the biggest things about Wakanda is that, in the Marvel universe, it has been hidden from the world since, basically, the beginning of time. This is because Wakanda’s main resource is a vast supply of vibranium, a fictional metal that is also the strongest in the world. This resource has caused the people of Wakanda to form an isolated and rich civilization, much like Atlantis or El Dorado, but it’s also helped them become extremely technologically advanced. So, going back to the details in creating this, the production crew really had to step it up with their creativity as to what they could do with said vibranium. From it though, they were able to create a thriving utopian futuristic world with various never-before-seen inventions and technology.
Something I particularly enjoyed about the development of Wakanda was the fact that the film didn’t just stay in one city. The audience gets to see other parts of this fictional nation, learning about their different tribes and the diversity among the people themselves. By doing this, audiences see the strong love for their country that the characters all share.
As for the characters, they were all well developed and interesting. I don’t think there was one dull person in this film. Boseman’s character really captures someone who is struggling not only with the death of a beloved family member, but the responsibility he must take on. That being said, some of the strongest characters in this film were the women. General Okoye, Nakia and Shuri are all examples of diverse and powerful women who get the job done. Okoye’s a vastly skilled warrior that’s in charge of all the other royal guards, who are all women by the way, and Nakia’s a worldly spy who’s also this overall amazing savior of the people. When Nakia’s introduced, spoiler alert, the first thing the audience sees about her is that she’s trying to save a bunch of enslaved Nigerian women. If these women weren’t amazing enough, there’s also Shuri, a brilliant inventor who’s in charge of all the different types of technological advancements within Wakanda, such as being the creator behind her brother’s new and improved suit.
The female representation in this film was really exciting to see, but more importantly, this film’s black representation was on point. The film was a celebration of African culture. It addresses important issues within the black community such as racism and even how colonization affected Africa as a continent. Having a black superhero and a primarily all black cast was also a very important part of this whole film because representation matters. Audiences everywhere deserve strong characters like this to identify with. This is just in general, but characters like this are people to look up to and feel inspired by. “Black Panther” did exactly that and for Hollywood, this film is one step closer towards a more diverse industry.
“Black Panther” provides a fresh, new, interesting spin on an already repetitive superhero narrative. It brought up issues that were real and important to the audience. It was well written, had a great soundtrack and was filmed beautifully. Overall, “Black Panther” is not only a must see for Marvel fans, but for people everywhere.