Black Panther is a culturally empowering film about family, identity and the confidence to do what’s right. Directed by Ryan Coogler, the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe film allows the director’s vision to create a unique entry in the franchise with a heavy emphasis on a positive depiction of Africa and the people whose roots originate there.
Prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to his home of Wakanda in Africa to become king following the death of his father. While dealing with the challenges of being a just king, he is confronted by a team of villains including Ulysses Klaue and Erik Killmonger. Reprising his role from Captain America: Civil War, Chadwick Boseman brings a charming personality to the introspective and regal T’Challa, which adds depth to his character.
Andy Serkis’ Ulysses Klaue represents colonialism and greed, being the perfect opponent for T’Challa. He is a joy to watch and brings an ironically humorous side to Black Panther’s arch enemy in the comics. Every scene he was in put a smile on my face.
Michael B. Jordan brings a balance of anger and pain to his character Killmonger, who challenges T’Challa with the idea of liberating oppressed black people in America and around the world. The inclusion of this particular real world conflict improves the narrative of the film substantially. Killmonger is easily one of the best Marvel villains in a line of strong villains following last year’s Spider Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok.
The cinematography is riveting, showcasing a bustling and vibrant Wakanda. The action sequences are also strong, though some battles overly featured CG visuals.
One of the best action sequences in the film is a battle in South Korea. The costume design is amazing thanks to the heavy research and time costume designer Ruth Carter took to bring the multitude of tribes and civilians to life.
The score, excellently crafted by composer Ludwig Göransson, portrays Wakanda in a bold fashion that embraces its African roots. Göransson travelled to Africa to study real African music from local musicians. One of the best tracks in the film is Killmonger’s theme, using the tambin, a diagonal flute, to excellent effect. Another highlight of the score is a fight scene featuring Okoye in a casino featuring a chilling whooping theme.
Black Panther has already become a cultural phenomenon for representing black people in a positive light when they are the main characters, not supporting or token characters. All the women in Black Panther are powerful, emboldened and self-motivated, including the deadly bodyguard Dora Milaje and the Wakandan spy Nakia. It would’ve been nice to see some characters a little more to fleshed out, like Queen Ramonda. But so many people have felt empowered by this film and I am absolutely elated. I’ve loved this character for years.
Black Panther is a strong and entertaining film, with engaging characters and relatable themes. The success of this film is an amazing sight for people who have waited for a film of this magnitude. I hope future AAA films accurately and properly represent other cultures and ethnicities in the same way Black Panther has. This film is a dream come true and I’m so happy people around the world have engaged in its world.
– Gervaise Branch-Allen