The context: It is an American superhero movie, produced by Ryan Coogler, that came out in February 2018. Based on a Marvel comic, the film is set on earth in a fictional country known as Wakanda, in Africa. However, it is more than just a superhero movie, it is a drama about a king and the crucial life-changing decisions he must make. It explores traditions, culture and politics and it also has the first African superhero of colour! Furthermore, there are many powerful and leading female characters portrayed in ‘Black Panther.’
This movie is very empowering for marginalised groups like women or people of colour. Finally, a film that is no longer just a big group of white males. Wakanda is presented as a non colonised, pure, affluent country, untouched and successful in its traditional black society and culture.
Here is a link to the trailer: Black Panther
Main Characters: The protagonist namely the Black Panther, T’challa, is played by Chadwick Boseman; he is a very empathetic and intelligent king. The antagonist, Killmonger, is played by Michael B. Jordan (no relation to Michael Jordan). He does an incredible job expressing rage and endless emotion to get what he wants, seeking what he thinks of as justice.
Two of the main female leads are played by actresses Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia (left) and Letitia Wright as Shuri (right). Nakia is T’challa’s love interest, and Shuri is his sister, with whom he has a very tight bond. Nakia is very wise, their relationship is based on mutual respect and trust. Shuri and her brother have a warm, kind and teasing relationship that adds comic relief to the plot. Shuri is supposed to represent your average teenager, obsessed with technology, yet she has some talents no normal teenager has…
My expectations for this film were relatively mediocre; I was not looking forward to another Marvel film with lots of violent fighting scenes and a complicated plot. But this film positively surprised me. There were so many different elements: sadness, joy, fear, anticipation, excitement, amusement and every other emotion you could imagine. It has depth and thought behind it. There were moments that left you breathless and shocked! I believe this movie connects with everyone beyond the level of a superhero movie.
Also, the majority of the actors are of colour, which is such a pleasant change compared to most Hollywood films. There are only two main white characters: Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman. Serkis plays the role of the villain Klaue, and Freeman is a CIA agent called Everett Ross.
It is hard to do the movie justice here in print, as the story is so inspiring and gripping – I also do not want to spoil the plot for anyone who is interested in seeing the film. The movie is over two hours long but time flew by.
The representation of the coloured race as fierce, powerful and royal was inspirational. As usually prestigious character roles are given almost exclusively to white actors, leaving actors of colour with smaller supporting parts, which is neither ethically acceptable or understandable in 2018.
This pie chart shows the percentage of Hollywood actors represented in movies in 2014. To me this seems a racist and unjust distribution. Why has it become like this? Why do people of colour get the worst roles in films? According to an article published in the UK, 59% of British films did not make reference or portray any black actors.
It is rather upsetting that this film has been so striking due to its almost entirely coloured cast. I do wish this was the norm and not so shocking, but since we are used to only seeing people of colour in the periphery of films, it makes Black Panther startling. I wish we could always have an equal amount of people of all races, that we could see beyond people’s skin colour and connect to their character and skill.
Not only do the actors show so much power, grace and elegance making each character fit their role perfectly, there is also an excellent soundtrack created by Kendrick Lamar and many other famous singers like The Weekend. To date, the film has taken 704 million USD at the box office.
In all, I hope all these points motivate you to go and see the film as I believe people will still be talking about ‘Black Panther’ in the future many years from now.
I highly recommend it!