Black Panther is not just another superhero blockbuster hit
Guest contributor Jermaine Stephens reviews Black Panther, "a must see movie for everyone"
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I am not a guy who’s really into action movies or anything superhero-related; I’ve never read the Marvel comics or been into that scene of movies. So, I had no previous knowledge when watching Black Panther. I didn’t know what to expect.
But, with all the major buzz in the world about the movie’s exceptional cast of veteran actors (including Chadwick Boseman, Micheal B. Jordan, Forest Whitaker, and Angela Basset, to name a few). And with the director Ryan Coogler being the first man of color to direct a Marvel film, it was only natural that I, an African American, go and see the movie.
I’m glad I did because it was a mind-blowing experience. From the amazing battle scenes to the actors’ performances, to the storyline, the movie has a lot to offer to any movie-goer. And its representation is groundbreaking.
Black Panther revolves around the story of T’Challa, the king of Wakanda, an isolated, technologically advanced African nation. T’Challa, in the aftermath of his appearance in Captain America: Civil War, returns home to Wakanda to claim his throne. However, the reemergence of an old enemy threatens both his kingship and the fate of Wakanda as a whole.
Something that stood out about Black Panther that I feel no other blockbuster movies have been able to touch on was representation, diversity and cultural identity, which all played a key role throughout the whole movie. Within Black Panther‘s cast there are many black actors, not only from America, but true African actors. For instance, Lupita Nyong’o, who played Nakia, is of Kenyan descent. Having this diverse group of actors added another dimension to the movie.
Having actors who not only are playing a character but have some of the cultural understanding of the people they’re playing is very important. Black Panther is set in Wakanda, Africa so you wouldn’t want to see an all-American cast playing an entire culture of people without any understanding of what goes on there. We’ve all seen a few movies were people are casted to play these roles that are unrealistic and could easily be fixed if they casted someone who understood the character and could relate to it. Black Panther did a good job in accomplishing that.
Throughout Black Panther, there were so many different representations of African culture. It was overwhelming (in a good way). There is one scene where all of the tribes of Wakanda gather in one place and you see the uniqueness of each tribe in costume details– from the different markings, to the hairstyles, to the way face paint might be worn, and it is visually incredible. The best part about the costuming is that it is all historically accurate. Black Panther took inspiration from Nigerian culture, Republic of Benin, Tanzania, Namibia, etc. But it was all done in proper taste. The costumes are spot on, making the movie even more authentic.
Personally, the character of Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister and Wakanda’s resident tech genius, really impacted how I viewed the film. As an individual from the African-American community, I can personally say that African Americans haven’t been portrayed in the most positive light– especially African-American women. Usually, in films, they are viewed as ghetto, “ratchet”, and loud, without a lot to offer the society or the community around them.
However, Black Panther gives a completely opposite portrayal with Shuri, a 16-year-old black female who is the head of the Wakandan design team, building amazing weapons and technology. She provides the perfect message that young black girls need to know: that they are more than what media might present and they can dominate and be successful in whatever field they choose.
Not only is Shuri a critical key to the success of Wakanda, she’s doing it for the culture, as some might say. Throughout the entire movie she is this really cool, funny chick who makes “what are those?” jokes which helps paint that positive image that you can be the head of the design team of an entire country but also have a cultured teen spirit.
Black Panther is a must see movie for everyone– whether you are there to see an entertaining movie with cool fight scenes or if you are there to see more representation for people of color, it has something for every individual. I highly recommend it.