Opening week may be over but that doesn’t mean the buzz surrounding Black Panther has ended. The latest Marvel movie, released Feb. 16, 2018, continues to receive nonstop acclaim for many different reasons. The main praise being offered to the movie is its predominantly black cast (all of whom gave absolutely stellar performances) as well as the development of badass female characters who don’t just stand idly by. The movie was also directed by Ryan Coogler, a renowned African American director and screenwriter whose films always highlight black culture.
Black Panther was so positively reviewed it warranted a tweet from the former first lady Michelle Obama who says the film, “will inspire people of all backgrounds to dig deep and find the courage to be heroes of their own stories.” As of Feb. 25, 2018, “Black Panther” has grossed $708,951,444 worldwide, a staggering $202 million of which was earned on opening weekend alone. It is the top-reviewed live-action superhero movie on Rotten Tomatoes with a score of 97%, taking first place from The Dark Knight and Iron Man, both of which earned 94%.
The movie is the latest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and takes place in Wakanda, a fictional country in East Africa. Wakanda is rich in vibranium, the tool necessary for powering futuristic superhero weapons like Black Panther’s suit and Captain America’s shield. In order to keep their country and their vibranium deposits secure, Wakanda portrays itself as a third-world nation, keeping its advanced technology a secret from the world. Some people, such as T’Challa’s ex-lover Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), argue that Wakanda needs to start using its superior technology to help those in need. Others, like T’Challa’s Special Forces leader Okoye (Danai Gurira), argue that Wakanda has thrived for as long as it has because its advancements have been kept hidden.
The king of Wakanda, T’Chaka, has died and it is time for his son T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) to become the new king and the next Black Panther, the protector of Wakanda. However, Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), a Wakandan born and raised in America, wants to rule over Wakanda and use its advanced weaponry to inflict violence on those who oppress other black people around the world. T’Challa must fight outside forces trying to take the throne from him while also figuring out how he plans to rule his country. He must decide what Wakanda should be: an isolated powerhouse, a philanthropic nation or a happy medium.
While discussing these heavier issues, Black Panther illuminates the role of women in society as fierce and capable warriors. Two of the main characters, Okoye and Nakia, are warriors with different motivations. Okoye is leader of the Dora Milaje, the Wakandan Special Forces, and Nakia is a War Dog, a spy sent to other countries to collect intelligence. Women are also noted for their intelligence. Shuri (Letitia Wright), T’Challa’s little sister and princess of Wakanda, is responsible for creating Wakanda new technology.
With a name as politically charged as Black Panther, the movie needed to address race issues. However, the film manages to bring up relevant political issues while still being a fun family movie that everyone can see. I’m not going to tell you to go see the movie, just know that if you don’t, you’re probably one of the only ones who hasn’t.