“Black Panther” released this past weekend, and in its first 3 days of release, it has already earned almost $200 million dollars. The movie picks up a few days after the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and showcases not only T’Challa’s rise to power as the new King of Wakanda but also showcases Wakanda’s rich history and deep African traditions. The fictitious and famously-reclusive nation is shown and explored in all its grandeur, and a great cast of characters only serve to support a great Marvel origin story; this was first Marvel movie in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe to feature an African American actor at the forefront of the plot. The cast is a collection of some of Hollywood’s best and most acclaimed, featuring the likes of Chadwick Boseman (“42,” “Get on Up”), Michael B. Jordan (“Creed,” “Fantastic Four”), Lupita NYong'o (“12 Years a Slave,” “Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens”), as well as big names like Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Daniel Kaluuya, and Andy Serkis. This robust cast, alongside the directorial talents of Ryan Kugler (“Creed,” “Fruitvale Station”) come together for a story of redemption, retribution, and revenge. And it does this, all while bringing modern political turmoil to the big screen in a tasteful way that doesn’t overbear on the real reason people go to the movies, which is often to escape such real-world issues.
After the death of Tchalla’s father, T’Chacka, in “Captain America: Civil War,” T’Challa finds himself thrust into the role of not only Black Panther but also the role of King. As Wakanda’s newest King, he must face some of its greatest threats yet, including rival tribe leaders vying for power, and an evil threat that has haunted his nation for decades. And he must tackle all these troubles mere days after losing his father and mentor, which may just prove to be the biggest burden to bear for the Wakandan King. As the movie progresses, the many new characters seen in this film are developed and drawn together under a common and unifying mantra: “Wakanda Forever!” This seemingly simple expression is actually one of the most important aspects of the film. It is a testament that no matter what happens in the outside world, and regardless of the differences they may have, community and national pride are at the very heart of Wakandan culture. We see our valiant hero, T’Challa grow not only as a superhero or a king, but as a flawed, yet determined man who simply wants to do the right thing. But when presented with a situation that could change his nation and the very world for good, can a man prove to be both a good person and a good king? Or will his resolve be broken by Killmonger (Jordan), a man driven by the very desire to see T’Challa fail, all while bringing about justice to oppressed people all over the world. He is a bad man, with seemingly good intentions, which only further hampers T’Challa’s abilities to make the right decision for himself and for his nation.
Wakanda will play an important role in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and from the trailers, we can already see it as one of the main settings of “Avengers: Infinity War.” Wakanda’s advanced technology and storied history prove the nation to be one of the most interesting dynamics yet seen in this movie franchise, and I for one look forward to its future in the MCU. Critics and audiences alike agree that “Black Panther” has earned its moment in the spotlight, and its commercial and critical success are testaments to how well-crafted this story is.
The movie explores Africa’s proud and storied history, and the cultural aspects that define Africa’s traditions are seen on display alongside one of Marvel's most celebrated heroes. And with “Avengers: Infinity War” and Phase Four of the MCU right around the corner, who better to help usher in the new generation of superheroes than a character as pivotal and versatile as Black Panther? His humanity and his desire to do good, and all of his remarkable allies make for a great movie and help set up more storylines yet to come. If you haven’t already, definitely go see this film, because there is something for almost any type of movie-lover to enjoy.