The Marvel blockbuster Black Panther came into theaters last weekend with record-breaking numbers. However, this film defies the standard superhero movie that comes with hyper-masculine white male leads. The latest installment provides the most diverse superhero movie and succeeds on every level.
Not too long after Captain America: Civil War, King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is preparing to take the throne as King of Wakanda following the death of his father. The reason behind the survival of the country is its untampered resources that have been hidden from the world and untouched by the colonization that would have taken away its thriving environment. In this technologically advanced and isolated African society, there is a challenge to the throne from an individual, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who is paying for the mistakes of the previous ruler.
Part of what makes Black Panther works is its unflinching dive into real-world politics and global issues. The primary goal of the antagonist of the film/antihero, Killmonger, is the liberation of black individuals from corrupt legal system’s oppressors. His intention is to use the civilization’s metallic resource, vibranium, as the source for its uprising. What differs this film from other Marvel pictures is the powerful messages it carries in race and gender dynamics.
Tying this in, one of the most important things to take away from the film is the importance of representation in modern-day media, especially for women of color. King T’Challa’s support system of women were not the typical Hollywood oversexualized characters or damsels in distress. His sister, excellently played by Letitia Wright, mother, (legendary actress Angela Bassett) spy/girlfriend, (Lupita Nyong’o) and general (Danai Gurira) play some of the most dynamic and standout performances in the entire film. These women help the Black Panther fight for Wakanda, as well as carry the future of their country on their shoulders. The importance of strength and individualism for these women make for some of the best scenes and most important messages that women can become, and usurp the typical male, action heroes.
Director Ryan Coogler offers up a visual feast as the viewer is transported to Wakanda, a casino in South Korea and so much more. Supported by the score of Ludwig Göransson and the wide array of artists in the Kendrick Lamar-curated soundtrack, Black Panther never fails to lose the attention of the viewer, all the while transporting audiences beyond the screen. Within the film, there are homages to various African cultures within its language and clothing that offer viewers a beautifully diverse society. Another aspect of the film that will definitely blow audiences away is the number of stunning visuals, well-choreographed action sequences and heart wrenching performances that this picture delivers.
Being a film that serves up both a message and visual masterpiece, Black Panther captures the perfect Marvel formula with a statement: representation. By having a cast filled with more than just your standard Caucasian superheroes, it shows a representation of various nationalities from around the world. For example, one of the titular characters, Lupita Nyong’o is Mexican-Kenyan and actor Winston Duke is from Trinidad. With a message geared towards modern-day oppression and politics, the film leaves audiences with the important message that other voices need to be heard, represented and fought for.