I have to admit that I was not much of a follower for the Afrofuturism movement that existed within black culture all these years. You see it in movies, music and even comics but it never really resonated in me until I started noticing its prominence in modern media.
You can say Marvel’s Black Panther is the birth of a new generation for this following and though this character has been around since 1966, he has been making waves with his latest silver screen appearance which deserves a standing ovation.
This is Marvel Studios’ 18th movie under its ten year run of a cinematic universe and though people tire of the same formula of superhero antics and disposal antagonist, Black Panther proves to be a revolutionary leap forward for the franchise and its phases not just for its fans but general audiences who are introduced to the legacy and why he remains to be a pivotal icon in black culture.
Black Panther kicks off right after the events of Captain America – Civil War, T’Challa now king is thrusted into the role of being the King of Wakanda after the death of his father, King T’Chaka. Though he displayed great prowess and skill against our favourite heroes in that airport scene, here we see his vulnerable side and how he dawns the massive role of being a king to a secret nation as opposed to a hero in a bulletproof suit. This may seem like a boring story to begin with since his origins were easily wrapped within the movie’s intro but seeing familiar faces stir up the pot makes for a dynamic story arc that pushes you to the edge of your seat from the sheer anticipation.
The visuals of the movie are fantastic! See the main city of Wakanda takes me back to the first time we were introduced to Asgard in Thor – majestic in every angle and simply magnificent to every detail. The design of characters, from clothes to tribal features, displays the true beauty behind African culture blended with modernity yet presented in a manner which is so believable, it’s hard not to get drawn into the story even further.
Chadwick Boseman needs no further praise for his role as T’Challa since he’s already proved his worth in Civil War. It was only obvious that he would push the envelope even further with his own movie and that proved to be the case with even more surprises down the line.
T’Challa’s personal army, the Dora Milaje, take the cake as the most stunning entourage of the film for me and though they are bald females, they were a force to be reckoned with which made them all the more intriguing.
Other supporting roles such as Okoye, T’Challa’s sister Shuri and even the menacing Man-Ape (known here as White Ape) M’Baku who all aren’t short of their turn in the spotlight and deliver stellar performances in such a diverse story. The balance between having T’Challa go through the motions and having the supports play their roles was done so well that it made you forget this was a superhero movie to begin with and engrosses you with its incredible visuals.
Marvel movies are known to have weak disposable villains in its solo and now team up movie runs which has now dubbed them the reputation of have a lack of substance in story progression. That’s not so much the case with villain Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B Jordan, who had a purpose for his actions. That may sound generic for a villain but for him to carry out his conviction that was closely knitted to the struggles of black culture made his pursuit really close to home. He preached his intentions from the heart and though not many of us could relate to his situation, it is the reality that he faced which echo the sentiments of black people all around the world. That was too powerful even for my comprehension but it was enough for me to understand why this movie meant so much to them in the first place.
There are a lot more elements in this film that play familiar tones of stories we know like Sins of the Father and King Arthur, but Black Panther definitely stands on its own in shaping the minds of its audiences by displaying the struggles of a minority and balancing power and responsibilities over your emotions. You won’t find that in a lot of movies today but it is refreshing to have this told so subtly yet powerful enough to leave a mark in your hearts and minds.
Just Don’t Freeze when it finally hits you.
Black Panther – 9/10