Stellar, superb, and star-studded are just a few words that describe the Black Panther, Marvel’s newest superhero film (like that alliteration, huh)! This all-star film exceeded box office expectations grossing in over $201M in the US, solidifying it as one of the biggest films in history. Directed by Ryan Coogler, this movie was based on the 1970s Marvel comic that depicted a Black superhero from a futuristic African kingdom called Wakanda. The cinema was nothing short of Black excellence.
Chadwick Boseman mastered the role of T’challa, the ‘Black Panther’ like no other could. This seasoned star has played the likes of some of the world’s most recognizable figures from Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall to James Brown. In the film, Boseman plays the prince turned King of Wakanda, a futuristic nation in Africa that survives and thrives on the metal Vibranium, considered the most powerful element in the world.
Other castmates of this amazing film included Angela Bassett, Lupita N’yongo, and the supervillain of all supervillains – Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger. The movie had classic Marvel themes: family feuds, love interests, secret superhero powers that the world isn’t supposed to know about, yadda yadda, but what separates this film from others in its category are its relatability with everyday life for Africans and African Americans. Below are some of those themes. (Editor – major spoiler alerts, you had until Sunday to see it!)
Kidnapping – Bring Back Our Girls
How could any of us forget the Bring Back Our Girls campaign started in 2014 after over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram. This event sparked international outcry and sadly little was done by the US and other major countries to see the girls safe return. While many have forgotten this incident, the Black Panther director Ryan Coogler didn’t and used this platform to shed light on kidnappings in Africa, this time though there was a hero – the Black Panther.
The heartthrob Black Panther isn’t immune to love. In the film, T’challa and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) rekindle flames in the movie, although it’s mentioned that Nakia is the Black Panther’s ex, the previous fling isn’t mentioned further but the Black Panther has his eyes set on this beauty as his queen. They were major bae goals!
Family Feuds and Abandonment
Lawd, it got real when T’challa found out that supervillain Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) was his cousin. His father, the previous King of Wakanda, killed his own brother for crimes against Wakanda and left the young Erik in the United States. Years of resentment made Erik turn into a bitter villain with his heart set on becoming King of Wakanda. His intentions aren’t necessarily evil, although he’s trained to kill and at one point took over the throne, he wanted to be able to arm Black people across the world with Vibranium weapons to arm themselves against their oppressors and empower them to rise above the ‘powers that be.’ Those loyal to T’challa find this plan to be horrible and filled with hate. After a long battle and trying to prove his ways to Erik, T’challa eventually kills him. Erik left the theatres in tears with the powerful statement “bury me in the ocean where my ancestors jumped out of ships because they knew that death was better than bondage.”
The whole plight of Erik Killmonger speaks of abandonment issues and daddy-issues that are widespread in the Black community. One thing that Coogler got right is by having the Black Panther confront his deceased father and ancestors and let them know that they were wrong for abandoning Erik.
Black Excellence – Shining a Light on the Strength of Black Women
From natural haired beauties by day to wig slanging warriors by night, the presence and strength of Black women in this film was undeniable. The Black Panther’s own baby sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) was Wakanda’s Technology Specialist. The nation’s warriors were also women, something not far-fetched in Africa. Before his passing, Muammar Gaddafi’s team of bodyguards were women and many African tribes had/have women warriors. The movie showcased Black women as soft and nurturing and as hellraisers, showing just how multifaceted the Black woman is. Behind every strong man is a strong woman!
The movie also crushed stigmas around Black films like “Black movies are only popular in Black communities” and that “Movies, where Black people are the main focus, don’t do well unless they are in subservient roles.” The Black Panther is busting down barriers and proving that Black movies featuring Black superheroes are here to stay!