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Duo Review: “Black Panther”

Ruth Feng

[su_heading size=”20″ margin=”0″]”Black Panther” Review (spoiler free!)[/su_heading]

 

“Black Panther” is nothing short of a triumph and cultural phenomenon brought to life by director Ryan Coogler and the stellar cast. On its third day at the box office, “Black Panther” is set to earn $387 million worldwide over the Presidents’ Day weekend.

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A full theater watches the film at AMC Cupertino Square 16. Photo by Ruth Feng.

Across the country, a multitude of fans could be seen dressed in traditional African clothing, displaying their excitement and pride. “Black Panther” was the long awaited Hollywood blockbuster they had waited for, a film that included a majority-black cast thriving and being recognized for their success. This success is directly reflected in the Afro-futuristic kingdom of Wakanda, a fictional nation in Northeast Africa.

Contrary to present-day portrayals of various countries in Africa as poor and underdeveloped, Wakanda is the most technologically advanced nation on Earth, with an equally vibrant culture of Africa desolate of any traces of Western colonization. The film does an incredible job of infusing imminent real-world scenarios with a sense of science fiction that simply takes your breath away.

In line with most Marvel films, the cinematography did not disappoint; the film was shot in Atlanta, GA during winter, Busan; South Korea and various parts of South Africa.

Taken from the film, a plane flies over the fictional nation of Wakanda.

A plane flies over the fictional nation of Wakanda.

However, a beautiful setting is not complete without an amazing cast. Chadwick Boseman stars as T’Challa/Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, an international spy for Wakanda and Danai Gurira as Okoye, the protector of the throne. Men in the film share the spotlight with powerful female warriors who did not hesitate to put their life on the line for their kingdom. The extraordinary amount of equality and diversity within both American and African culture warmed the hearts of everyone watching.

T’Challa, also known as the Black Panther, is crowned king after his father T’Chaka dies from a terrorist attack shown in “Captain America: Civil War.” This movie explores his transition to power and how he must overcome challenges to his authority, namely Ulysses Klaw, an arms dealer of Vibranium, and Killmonger, who stands as more of an equal to T’Challa and thus, the main villain he has to defeat.

The main cast of “Black Panther” poses for a photo shoot. Photo used without permission by Entertainment Weekly.

From left to right: Forest Whitaker, Erik Killmonger (top), Daniel Kaluuya, Lupita Nyong’o, Chadwick Boseman, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright; the main cast of “Black Panther” poses for a photo shoot. Photo used without permission by Entertainment Weekly.

Director Ryan Coogler said the main idea he wanted to bring home was identity. In an interview with TIME magazine, Coogler says, “that’s something I’ve always struggled with as a person. Like the first time that I found out I was black… Not just identity, but names. ‘Who are you?’ is a question that comes up a lot in this film. T’Challa knows exactly who he is.”

‘Who are you?’ is a question that comes up a lot in this film. T’Challa knows exactly who he is.””

T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, is truly incredible in this film. A native of South Carolina, Boseman gained nationwide recognition after his role as Jackie Robinson in “42” and singer James Brown in “Get on Up,” both performances receiving critical acclaim. As a powerful superhero sporting a futuristic black suit in “Black Panther,” it’s hard to believe Boseman is 41 years old. Boseman has also said he likes doing his own stunts, rarely needing a stunt double. Regardless, Boseman revealed that he prayed to get the role of T’Challa, and he did not disappoint.

The only thing lacking, however, is the minimal use of the “Black Panther” soundtrack in the movie. It features artists such as Kendrick Lamar, SZA and Vince Staples. Amazing as it was, its wide absence from the movie was something fans definitely wanted to see more of. Give it a listen here:

All its wits and intelligence can’t be contained in one review, so there is no other way to conclude except: go out and watch the movie. WAKANDA FOREVER.

 

[su_heading size=”20″ margin=”0″]”Black Panther” Review (warning: spoilers ahead!) [/su_heading]

 

Director Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther” brought the world a film that the world has never seen before, and it comes nothing short of revolutionary. This film is best encompassed by the conflict of family and heritage, exciting action sequences and beautiful cinematography.

The purple veins that stream all over T’Challa’s Black Panther suit is only one of many technological advancements that Marvel and the MCU has never seen before. The fictional African kingdom of Wakanda houses the most valuable metal in the world: vibranium, the same indestructible metal as Captain America’s shield and was featured around Marvel’s “Age of Ultron,” for it fueled Ultron’s strength. Wakanda possess highly convoluted technology but the futuristic city is under disguise as an underdeveloped third world country surrounded by the impenetrable terrain of Africa.

T’Challa/Black Panther in an action sequence. Photo used without permission by The Daily Superhero.

T’Challa/Black Panther in an action sequence. Photo used without permission by The Daily Superhero.

The movie explores the underlying conflict of Wakanda to break through its isolationism ideals and share its valuable resources with the rest of the world. As the next immediate king, T’Challa fights to keep Wakanda off the maps from an arms dealer, Ulysses Klaw.

But through his efforts to protect of Vibranium weapons, he discovers his unknown cousin that had grown up in Oakland, California. T’Challa’s father had sent his younger brother to America as a spy for Wakanda when he uncovered his distribution of Wakandan weaponry to to the public. He had killed his brother for betraying Wankada and left behind a son, Erik Killmonger. Erik had arrived to Wakanda seeking revenge for his father’s death and the means to disperse Wakandan weapons to decimate oppressors all over the world. His radical belief derived from the constant discrimination during his childhood in a predominantly black neighborhood within a prejudiced country.

Killmonger’s Americanness and his life full of oppression starkly contrasts with the rich, strong country of Wakanda. The audience feels a sense of compassion knowing he was separated from his homeland for so long, acting as a parallel to years of systemic oppression of African-Americans. It is necessary to understand where Killmonger’s anger originates from in order to understand his character.

Director Ryan Coogler interlaces the plot with racial prejudice by bringing characters to life while still keeping the integrity of the action-filled comics. The fear of introducing Wakanda to modern society is exploitation, which is not a far cry from colonizers in Africa over two hundred years ago.  

Erik Killmonger is Marvel’s very different take on a relatable villainous character. Killmonger strays from villains such as Ultron and Loki, since he is an extremely socially aware antagonist who thinks clearly, but his good intentions are blurred by his rage.

As a fatherless child and living within injustice of African-Americans, Killmonger suffered throughout his childhood, therefore he sets out to execute his vision of the annihilation of the authorities by taking the Wakandan throne from T’Challa through a ceremonial challenge.

T’Challa/Black Panther (left) and Erik Killmonger (right) fight for the Wakandan throne in a ceremonial battle. Photo used without permission by Business Insider.

T’Challa/Black Panther (left) and Erik Killmonger (right) fight for the Wakandan throne in a ceremonial battle. Photo used without permission by Business Insider.

Killmonger’s introduction scene is incredibly telling of his goals: he turns the tables on a white museum guide directing an African exhibit and questions her about her ancestors’ colonization of Africa.

Throughout the movie, Killmonger’s passion and rage is great enough to overpower T’Challa in his own kingdom. But during T’Challa and Killmonger’s final battle, T’Challa’s final move slips beneath Killmonger, and the villain is defeated. However, it is hard to relish in this defeat. Killmonger leaves a huge mark on Wakanda, moving T’Challa to change their policy of isolationism to opening up their resources to other countries.

In the end credits, T’Challa announces Wakanda’s new policy to the United Nations, a wish that Killmonger would have liked to see. Killmonger’s death was one of the most pivotal and impactful scenes of the entire movie. T’Challa brings Killmonger to a high point just as the sun is setting, a show of compassion since Killmonger previously had said his dad always told him the sunsets were most beautiful in Wakanda. Overlooking his homeland, Killmonger’s last words were, “bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, cause they knew death was better than bondage.”

In reference to the contemptible history of the enslavement of black people and the suffering they endured on the Middle Passage, this quote did nothing less but send chills through everyone’s backs. This film paid tribute to African culture and its lack of representation and concluded with a message that the world needs to hear, for T’Challa’s purple veins of power will stream down into the ocean and aid the world.

Black Panther is reprised in Avengers: Infinity War.