Black Panther has done what I didn’t think would be possible, it has exceeded my expectations! The trailer as awesome as it was does not do this film justice! Black Panther has so many colorful and vibrant layers of storytelling and visuals that I marveled at its depth and creativity. There were some powerful themes in this movie that focused on what was and what could have been, tradition vs. non tradition, the lost people of Africa searching for their place in the world, vs. those in Africa who know their place and heritage, family vs. duty, love vs loyalty, you name it these themes are interwoven seamlessly into this cultural tapestry of a film that is wrapped in the garments of a superhero film. This movie brought forth emotional memories of Lion King and Shaka Zulu, which reminded me of the ideas of loss, abandonment, sadness, acceptance, hope and redemption.
Did I forget to add that this is a superhero movie tied to the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Black Panther is another movie in the continuing MCU comic series of films that are tied together leading to a penultimate showdown in the upcoming Avengers Infinity Wars. Black Panther’s beginnings in the movie series began in Captain America: Civil War, where Prince T’Challa loses his father to an assassin’s bomb, which elevates him to king, and puts him on the trail of the Winter Soldier and Captain America. Black Panther the movie takes place soon after those events, where T’Challa comes home to be crowned king, but not everything goes as planned. Family secrets, disillusionment and the rigidity of tradition have created a situation that has made his ties to the throne tenuous. T’Challa more than the actual Black Panther goes on a mission to right the wrongs and restore order to his tiny but technologically advanced nation of Wakanda.
A paper could be written on the complexity of themes and cultural nuances that the Black Panther introduces and exposes the viewer to, but with this review there just isn’t time. Black Panther is the best movie that Marvel has created. It has a positive message, positive character portrayals and I haven’t even mentioned that it is one of the first truly African American super hero films to grace the screen that has been embraced not only by the black community, but by the majority of America. This movie has inspired a generation of black people like I have never seen before, while also appealing to the masses on the big screen. Yes we have had black heroes in the past that have been featured in their own films, which is a rarity in itself, Meteor Man, Hancock, Blade, Spawn, Steel (who saw it?), Blankman (seriously?), Catwoman (puhllease!), but in the scheme of movies these did not have impact, story lines, or mass appeal that would make them a cultural phenomenon.
Even the villain, Killmonger as we learn has a reason for what he is doing and is really just a product of his own environment and abandonment. Black Panther is truly a Marvel, and along with its great story telling, colorful and exciting clothing and technology, and great music, the film just has a cool swagger that only a Black Panther could have! I look forward to seeing the Black Panther and other Avengers in a few months in Avengers Infinity War, and his eventual sequel!