Now Showing: Black Panther

Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ brings representation to the screen through breathtaking visual effects and an engaging storyline.

Amelie Lee, Asst. Feature Editor

With a memorable cast of black actors and actresses from around the globe, “Black Panther” brings much needed representation to the movie screen, along with visual effects and Marvel’s most compelling villain yet.

A refreshing contrast from the blindingly white superhero industry, “Black Panther” is directed by Ryan Coogler, and is rife with African culture. The majority of the movie takes place in the fictional country of Wakanda, a powerful and technologically developed. The movie stars Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa, who inherits the throne—as well as the position of the powerful Black Panther—after the death of his father.

“Black Panther” strays from the constant action of other Marvel movies, focusing instead on developing the intricate world of Wakanda. While the country wishes to keep its  advanced weaponry and technology from the wrong hands, there is unrest among those who believe that Wakanda should be doing more to help their oppressed brothers and sisters in need around the world.

While the beginning of the movie is a bit slow, the rest of the movie delivers a superhero unlike any other. Incorporating political commentary and questioning the responsibilities of developed countries, “Black Panther” introduces a hero with the strength and instinct of a panther, who is willing to help those in need, even if they aren’t people of Wakanda.

Along with the head of the guard Okoye (Danai Gurira) and his ex-girlfriend Nakia (Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o), T’Challa and his panther suit create an impenetrable team that must decide  the extent to which they should interfere in less developed areas. Throughout the movie, the acting of Boseman, Gurira and Nyong’o is unmistakably strong, and the three of them bring a powerful presence to the Marvel universe.

As compelling as the heroes are, the villain of the movie steals the show. Charming and witty, cousin of T’Challa, Erik Killmonger, (Michael B. Jordan, who starred in the director’s “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed”) grew up orphaned in Oakland and wants to arm oppressed and mistreated Africans across the world with Wakandan technology. With a vision of violent revenge, Killmonger forces his radical viewpoint on Wakanda, threatening T’Challa’s position as king and wanting his country to rule over the rest of the world.

Although past Marvel villains have been flat and almost comically menacing, “Black Panther” creates a character who is desperate for change and looking for any means to achieve it. While Killmonger clearly plays the bad guy in the film, his point of view shows the genuine frustration and repressed anger of many who have been treated poorly because of their skin color, creating a three dimensional character whose ideas take form in the wrong way.

The talented cast is paired with the stunning country of Wakanda. With bright sunsets and waterfalls practically bursting from the movie screen, the setting played perfectly with the catchy soundtrack of the film. With artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Sza, 2 Chainz and Khalid, the soundtrack utilizes African styles of music combined with modern rap and pop.

While not a stereotypical superhero movie, “Black Panther” establishes a new protagonist that adds depth to what it means to be a hero. As the Marvel universe expands, “Black Panther” is a strong first step to incorporating a variety of cultures and revolutionary ideas into the franchise.