Black Panther breaks the boundaries of a typical comic book movie to become a seminal entry in the Marvel universe. The movie takes place in Wakanda, a country that brands itself as third world but is actually technologically advanced compared to other nations due to its possession of vibranium — the strongest metal on Earth — which helps to power their city and technology. After his father dies, his son, T’Challa, returns back to Wakanda to serve as the country’s new leader. However, two factions within the country challenge the throne and T’Challa must team up with some unlikely allies to save Wakanda from entering a world war.
Wakanda has survived all these years under the appearance of being a poor country, but many characters, such as Na- kia, believe the country “is strong enough to help others and protect itself.”
In fact, this viewpoint is one of the main arguments of the villain, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens, played by Michael B. Jordan. After a difficult childhood — one of the most heartbreaking moments in the movie — Killmonger believes Wakanda should share its weapons with those suffering in the world so they can overthrow their repressive governments and invert the existing racial order. Killmonger is one of my favorite villains in recent Marvel movies. His motives, while vicious, are understandable especially once you know his backstory.
Not only does Black Panther have a mostly Black cast, but most of the film’s central characters are female. T’Challa is surrounded by various women including his mother, who’s a guiding presence; his ex-lover Nakia, who brings out his heart; his sister, who is a tech genius and adds to the comedy of the movie; and finally his bodyguard, a striking character with crazy fighting skills.
Lastly, Black Panther is thought-provoking. It questions what it means to have pride in one’s country, especially if it is being ruled by someone destructive. In addition, it addresses current foreign policy concerns as some countries shift toward isolationism rather than globalism. Black Panther, while still packed with traditional action scenes, places emphasis on Black freedom and creativity and helps breaks the absence of Black actors in American movies. It is a powerful, vibrant movie that shines not only as an action film but as a significant one.