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Run, don’t walk to see Black Panther

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Run, don’t walk to see Black Panther

Photo courtesy of www.forbes.com

Photo courtesy of www.forbes.com

Photo courtesy of www.forbes.com

Evan Davis, Staff Writer

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Where does one begin after watching the cultural phenomenon Black Panther? I have watched Black Panther three times and fell in love with the movie and its characters every single time.

Black Panther takes moviegoers to a new world never before explored by Marvel while still fitting seamlessly into the already established Marvel Cinematic Universe. This film does not hold back and constantly takes risks with dialogue, world-building, and character development, culminating in a spectacular movie experience.

The country of Wakanda, a made-up country in Africa, is the setting for the majority of the movie and is brought to life through a distinct and lively culture. Wakanda draws the audience into a technological utopia that is ahead of its time. Although Wakanda is full of technological wonders, it still continues the African culture of open markets, African fashion, and an emphasis on community.

The different parts of Wakanda are introduced to us through a fascinating group of characters. Shuri, the King’s young sister, shows the technological side of Wakanda with advancements she’s made from the mining of vibranium, and Zuri, the King’s uncle, leads the spiritual and ritualistic side of Wakanda.

While the three-act structure of the story does not bring anything new to the Marvel forefront, the story itself is unique. The film starts after the events of Captain America: Civil War when T’Challa, the Black Panther, has to return back to Wakanda as the new King because of his father’s death in the previous movie. This develops the internal conflict of being both king and the Black Panther. The internal conflict that this adds to the movie creates a sense of tension even while other conflicts are occuring.

Unlike in other Marvel movies, the fight scenes are minimal and used sparingly. Black Panther compensates with interesting dialogue from characters like Shuri (Letitia Wright) and the general Okoye (Danai Gurira) of Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s all-female warrior group.

Additionally, the lack of action pushes forward the multigenre facets of the film, showing a side of Marvel that is more focused on social commentary than shock-factor fighting. However, action lovers shouldn’t fear as Black Panther features high speed car chases, wigs used as weapons, and some very impressive spear work.

Of all the Marvel movies, Black Panther destroys its competition in terms of character development.
Everyone is significant to the story and has an interdependent relationship with fellow characters. Fully realized black female characters who are intelligent, independent, beautiful and have their own unique skills, ambitions and strong personalities dominate the screen.

Shuri is the comedic young sister to T’Challa and provides technology not only to the Black Panther but to the whole kingdom of Wakanda. Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), a spy of Wakanda, is shown fulfilling her life’s goal of helping other black people across the world who cannot protect themselves from unjust circumstances. Okoye is an unapologetically fierce warrior who never wavers in her loyalty. All three of these women shatter the black female narrative of Hollywood and show Wakanda is only as powerful as its badass women are.

A common issue in many Marvel movies is the underdeveloped villains who only add the dimension of a problem to get rid of. Black Panther, however, transforms the villains into representations of issues in the black world. Ulysses Klaw (Andy Serkis), a crazed character that wants to exploit Wakanda for the precious and versatile metal of Vibranium, represents colonization and exploitation of countries’ natural resources. Serkis’ performance enhanced his symbolism because of his flashy nature and use of the word “savages” when talking about Wakandans.

The best performance of the movie was given by Michael B. Jordan as Eric Killmonger. Killmonger’s heartbreaking character unapologetically sheds light onto the reality of race in America, making the issues of race accessible for all viewers. The juxtaposition of T’Challa as a wealthy king to Killmonger who came from very little, helps the audience develop empathy for Killmonger and his difficult past.

The movie is a pinnacle of black excellence on and off the screen. Not only does Black Panther have a beautiful black cast, but there is representation in production too. Young director Ryan Coogler, who previously directed Creed and Fruitvale Station, Rachel Morrison, a female cinematographer, and Hannah Bleacher, the black female production designer, are examples of people of color and women making strides in the white male-dominated entertainment industry.

Onscreen and offscreen representation makes it easier to believe that the media is turning a new leaf and putting an importance on narratives of black people thriving instead of just struggling. Black Panther raked in $241.96 million in its opening four day weekend making it the fifth highest opening for a film ever. People want to see movies about people of color! As a person of color I have never felt more proud of a mainstream movie addressing real issues about race.

Most importantly, this movie will inspire black children as they see people who look like them prospering with control over their own destinies. Black Panther will permanently set a new standard for the superhero industry and start much-needed conversations on an accessible level.

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Run, don’t walk to see Black Panther