Black Panther – An Empowering Blockbuster

Black Panther poster - photographed by Lauren Eschenbrenner

BY LAUREN ESCHENBRENNER

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has done it again – they have made a movie that’s blowing off the charts. Most importantly, they’ve made a movie with character representation, and that matters in a number of communities.

Marvel’s Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler,  has been a phenomenon ever since it was introduced. People have been stirring about the superhero ever since he made his first cinematic appearance in Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War , and have demanded a movie. Now, we have one. And it’s everything we hoped it would.

The movie is set in the hidden African country Wakanda, a wealthy and technology-based nation unlike the rest of Africa. After former King of Wakanda, T’Chaka dies in an explosion, his son T’Challa must take the throne in honor of his father. However, during his short reign, conflict arises that causes a feud throughout the country, eventually spreading to the world.

Actor Chadwick Boseman portrays King T’Challa, giving an authentic and outstanding performance performance as he brings strength to his character and performs his own stunts.  His acting as T’Challa is a perfect fit.

Erik Killmonger, who is played by Michael B. Jordan , is the (surprise) cousin of T’Challa, his father dying when he was very young. He comes back to Wakanda to take the throne and serve his father’s justice. Jordan portrays Killmonger as the villian, and does a spectacular job displaying his anger and frustration as the character. The movie, if filmed without Jordan, would not have the same effect on the audience as it did with him.

However, the movie would not have been as amazing as it was without all the empowering female leads. T’Challa’s little sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright) is one of the smartest people in the Marvel universe, coming up with all the new innovative technology and fundings, despite only being a teenager and the princess of Wakanda. Another woman, Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), is T’Challa’s former lover and an undercover spy for Wakanda and other countries. Her first screen action is fighting for enslaved women. There is also Okoye (Danai Gurira), the general of the all-female special forces of Wakanda, who serve as T’Challa’s bodyguards. In the film, these women are not just placed in the storyline as supporting roles, but rather shape the movie into the action packed cinematic masterpiece it is known to be.

Not only does this movie have action and an intriguing plot, but it also showcases the importance of fostering diversity in Hollywood by representing the black community and honoring black culture. According to Vox, “Black Panther’s greatest legacy may not be what it’s done for Marvel, Hollywood, or box office records, but what it’s done for the culture.” The movie truly does allow for black kids to look up to the characters as inspiration, and gives them the opportunity to see themselves represented as heroes.