(Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures)
Breaking New Ground
Black superheroes have existed for decades from Black Panther to Luke Cage to Storm.
However, a superhero movie that shows love to rapper Too $hort by playing his classic song “In the Trunk” is probably unprecedented.
The fact that “In The Trunk” is featured in the beginning of “Black Panther” during a scene in Oakland in 1992 is a warning that the Ryan Coogler directed film is not the ordinary superhero movie in its artistic approach.
Sure, there are the requisite good guys, bad guys and superpowers, but never has a superhero film looked so visually beautiful and culturally magnificent as in “Black Panther.”
The Marvel film “Black Panther” takes place in the fictional African country Wakanda.
The country is considered by many outsiders as a third world country, but Wakanda is actually more powerful and technologically advanced than other countries because of its possession of vibranium, the world’s most powerful metal and the source of the king’s superpowers.
Vibranium gives the king of Wakanda the power to become the Black Panther and the ability to protect the country from any danger.
When T’Challa’s (Chadwick Boseman) father T’Chaka (John Kani), the king of Wakanda dies, power over the advanced country is ceded to him.
The new Black Panther must overcome challenges to his throne from within the country and then deal with threats from people outside of the country.
Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and Klaue (Andy Serkis) steal vibranium from a museum and with it plan to challenge T’Challa for supremacy within Wakanda.
In order to save the country from evil intentions, T’Challa must work with United States CIA agent Everett Ross, his ex Nakia (Lupita Nyong’0) and his aggravating, but genius sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright) if Wakanda has any chance of maintaining its way of life.
“Black Panther” is simply magnificent from a cultural and cinematic standpoint.
The beauty of African culture, music, dress and customs is wonderfully celebrated in a way not really ever seen on film.
Also, the film has its requisite superhero movie comedy from the Jabari tribe of Wakanda threatening to eat Everett Ross before admitting that the tribe actually practices vegetarianism to Shuri’s disappointment over the fact that T’Challa takes her to the ghettoes of Oakland on her first trip to California as opposed to Coachella or Disneyland.
Furthermore, “Black Panther” is able to weave the beauty of modern Africa with the struggles of African-Americans both past and present in an effective way, showing the unbreakable connection between Blacks in America in their African brethren.
T’Challa is powerful but empathetic.
Nakia is breathtakingly beautiful and passionate.
And T’Challa’s mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) is regal and dignified.
Furthermore, with performances by heavyweights like Emmy Award winner Sterling K. Brown and Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker, the Marvel film brought nothing but A-list talent to this production.
However, for those looking for an overt political message, “Black Panther” will not be what they expect.
Sure, the film mentions the plight of African-Americans, the courage it took for captured Africans to commit suicide rather than suffer under American slavery and the colonization of African countries.
But the film is more a message of unity and being better than one’s oppressors.
Furthermore, the biggest villain and biggest threat to the powerful Black superhero might not be whom moviegoers initially suspect.