Black Panther: Marvel's First African Superhero Shines at the Box Office
A fictional superhero story with real-life social commentary, and undertones that have some truths. Spoiler Alert: spoilers are present within this blog.
On Feb. 17th, I seen Marvel Studios Black Panther, and it didn’t disappoint. The movie surprised me with the tone being very Afro-centric, which was a welcomed change compared to other films.
I became interested once I heard Marvel was working on turning Black Panther into a feature film. I wasn’t familiar with the origin story of T’ Challa (Black Panther), so I went into the movie without any expectations. Before I seen the movie, the mainstream media were talking about how the movie was breaking sales records domestically and globally.
During the movie, I enjoyed that Wakanda was a fictional nation in Africa, but it was also a lot more technologically advanced than the rest of the world. The rest of the world saw Africa as a Third World country, but the people from Wakanda knew the truth, and how special it was.
I felt everybody from Wakanda had a sense of pride, were proud to be themselves, and proud of their culture. From the previews, I knew this movie was going to explore African culture, but I wasn’t prepared for the Afrocentricity to bleed from the screen. For example, the African accents from the great actors and actresses drew me in, along with the Afro-centric and Hip-Hop music, the dancing, the peacefulness of Wakanda, and the devotedness of moving together as one unit to meet a specific goal.
The movie also pushed the notion of women being equal to their male counterparts by displaying how they could contribute with their different skill sets. For instance, T’ Challa’s half-sister Shuri is the princess of Wakanda, and she is responsible for the advanced technology within Wakanda, including healing abilities.
What stood out to me the most was the social commentary within the movie, which was relatable to today’s world. There was tension within the royal family when T’ Challa’s father, T-Chaka, who was the king in 1992, killed his brother, N’ Jobu because he was stealing vibranium, which is from Wakanda and is used for the Black Panther’s suit for protection while in combat. After killing his brother, T-Chaka left his nephew, Erik Killmonger to fend for himself in the United States as a young child.
Killmonger’s childhood was difficult because his father wasn’t around, which made him cold, distant, and ruthless. He was banished from his royal family in Africa, and nobody knew he existed, until he finally arrived in Wakanda many years later. Killmonger wanted the throne for himself and fought T’ Challa for it. During the movie, the tension between the two cousins (T’ Challa ‘Black Panther’ and Killmonger) was heavy, and they both had valid view points based on their life experiences of how to rule Wakanda.
For instance, Killmonger wanted to avenge his father’s death, and he wanted to liberate all black people from around the world because he experienced and saw the injustices his people had to endure. Wakanda was a safe haven, and he wanted to share their technology, wealth, and resources with all people who come from African descent. He also didn’t care if anybody got in his way because he decided it was time for people of African descent to not struggle anymore.
“When I die, bury me in the ocean, because my ancestors who jumped from the ships knew that death was better than bondage.”
- Erik Killmonger, Black Panther film (2018)
T’ Challa felt sorry for Killmonger because he knew how devastating it must have been for him to experience the loss of his father. It was difficult for T’ Challa to comprehend that his father killed his uncle, and left his cousin alone in the U.S. T’ Challa also thought it was wrong that his father left Killmonger in the U.S. and didn’t bring him home to Wakanda.
T’ Challa felt compassion for his cousin, but he also felt Killmonger’s ruthless actions were getting out of control. T’ Challa didn’t think it was a good idea to share all their resources with other people from around the world, but he later realized that his cousin had a great point and was right because the world was in turmoil and needed help from Wakanda.
This type of social commentary is relevant, because it showed that even royal families have secrets that should be worked out by telling the truth. Also, people in power today are hesitant to share their resources, even if it is going to help others and liberate them.
It was great to see this part of African culture within a mainstream film, because Afrocentricity doesn’t get much spotlight in American mainstream entertainment and media. I recommend everybody should go see Black Panther when they get a chance, because even though this story is fictional, the undertones within this film have some truths.
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3 Ways Black Panther Will Change The MCU - Spoiler Review!! Mojo @ The Movies video courtesy of WatchMojo from YouTube.com.
Black Panther Wallpaper courtesy of Wallpaper Abyss.
Cohen, E., Sienna, M. 3 Ways Black Panther Will Change The MCU - Spoiler Review!! Mojo @ The Movies. Ch7WatchMojo. YouTube, YouTube, 18 Feb. 2018. 19 Feb. 2018. www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjA6G4PIKWU
Wallpaper Abyss. Black Panther Wallpaper and Background Image | 1280x800 | ID:238003. February 19, 2018. https://wall.alphacoders.com/big.php?i=238003
Wikipedia. Black Panther (film). February 17, 2018. February 19, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Panther_(film)