“Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships,
’cause they knew death was better than bondage.”
Black Panther is more than a superhero movie – it’s a movement.
T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake.
Hype surrounding Black Panther started prior to it’s release…and rightfully so. The hashtag #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe was trending a week before the movie’s release, and the #BlackPantherChallenge raised $40,000 so that kids in Harlem could go see it in local theaters.
After eight years and 13 films, the world of The Avengers is expanding tremendously, and I’m trying to keep up. Critics are already considering this one of the best films set in the Marvel comic book universe noting its cultural significance, and I couldn’t agree more.
It’s not that this is a flawless film (although it’s close), but it’s one of the first comic book movies that fully engrossed me; I never felt lost in the universe. Yes, it’s a Marvel movie, but the film feels like it stands on it’s own two feet with little tie-ins to the broader Marvel universe.
“Director Ryan Coogler says that Black Panther, like his previous films—including the police-brutality drama Fruitvale Station and his innovative Rocky sequel Creed—explores issues of identity. ‘That’s something I’ve always struggled with as a person.'”
Now that the picture has opened to universal raves and shattered box office records, pulling in a massive $242 million domestically and $184.6 million internationally over the holiday weekend, Hollywood has more to learn than just the financial impact of putting more diverse people on screen and in the director’s chair.
“What’s so great about Panther is he’s a superhero who, if you grab him and ask him if he’s a superhero, he’ll tell you, ‘No.’ He sees himself as a politician, as a leader in his country. It just so happens that the country is a warrior-based nation where the leaders have to be warriors, as well, so sometimes he has to go fight.” Ryan Coogler http://www.vulture.com/2016/07/ryan-coogler-ta-nehisi-coates-panther.html#
One of my favorite aspects of Wakanda is that women and men in society are completely equal, and the king’s body guards are a troupe of badass women. This female empowerment did for me what Wonder Woman didn’t do; everything felt natural, not forced, subtle yet powerful at the same time.
One of the problems I tend to have with superhero movies in the villains are boring, CGI inflated monsters. The villains are uber powerful, yes, but boring and forgettable. The conflict is always daunting to watch unfold.
Thor Ragnarock addressed this problem by giving our overpowered villain a huge personality, and Black Panther does the same will Killmonger.
Another aspect of the film that’s getting attention is the villain Killmonger (Michael B Jordan <3) who, although an extremist, has valid points to offer about what Wakanda has to offer globally. The hero actually has the opportunity to learn from the villain and reevaluate his entire existence, which is a rarity in any film. When I think about the pointless CGI-a-thon with the villain in Wonder Woman, no wonder audiences get bored…it’s so much more compelling to have conflicted feelings about what the villain is trying to accomplish and whether or not it’s right or wrong.
I’m always arguing with my parents that superhero movies aren’t just for kids; their power and significance can have an impact on us at any age…especially Black Panther. Whether or not you follow the universe (I don’t), give this one an opportunity. It’s one you shouldn’t miss!
What Did You Love About Black Panther? Let me know!