Updated: Feb 28, 2019
Films like “Black Panther” not only for entertainment, but open their audience’s eyes to a broader conversation about culture, technology and politics.
By Meg Taylor, News Editor
The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest installment, “Black Panther,” tackles topics such as African American culture, technological advancements and moral versus political decision making within government, all the while providing a thrilling, action-packed superhero film.
The film follows the story of Prince T’Challa who returns home after his father’s death to assume the throne as the king of Wakanda, as well as the super-soldier powers that accompany the role of the new Black Panther (Wakanda’s traditional protector). Wakanda is an isolated, technologically advanced African nation untouched by war and colonialism. When a powerful old enemy reappears along with an unfamiliar new enemy, T’Challa’s drawn into a tremendous conflict that puts not only his fate but that of Wakanda and the entire world at risk.
The impressive cast includes Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, Michael B. Jordan as the main antagonist Killmonger, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Sterling K. Brown and Forest Whitaker. One of the best aspects of this film is the strong ensemble. The connection between the characters and actors helps maintain a good pace, allowing the audience to get lost within the magical land of Wakanda.
Directed by Ryan Coogler (the indie Fruitvale Station and Rocky rejuvenator Creed), the $200- million film grossed $1.3 billion worldwide. It features colorful and detailed costumes, jewelry, and face paint based on traditional African culture and fabrics but with a modern twist to reflect the advancements of Wakanda. The costumes for the characters of Wakanda place an emphasis on red, green and black to resemble the Pan-African flag. The soundtrack includes songs from popular artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott and Khalid.
A main theme throughout Black Panther is making morally right decisions versus political ones for the “greater good.” T’Challa initially follows the Wakandan tradition of keeping his nation hidden and safe.However, he ignored his moral compass throughout most of the film which guided him to help impoverished people all over the world. We follow the battle T’Challa faces, continuing on the methods of the previous kings or paving his own path and re-identifying what it means to be the Black Panther.
The film features an abundance of strong black characters, something we typically do not see from a big Hollywood franchise such as Marvel. This opens a controversial conversation: do African Americans notice their under representation when watching American film? Hollywood has historically pigeonholed African American actors in minor or supporting roles within a predominantly white cast. Hopefully, following the extreme success of a film with a primarily African American cast like Black Panther it will open the film industry to more diverse casting choices.