Black Panther – Everything we could hope for and more

Photo by Matt Kennedy / Marvel Studios

Marvel’s Black Panther laughed at even the highest expectations as it landed in theaters, grossing $242 million domestically over the four-day weekend. Ryan Coogler, director, along with a star-studded cast dripping in Pan-Africanism including Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, and the Black Panther himself, Chadwick Boseman, have made history and an instant classic.

Where do you start with a film this epic? Firstly, it goes without saying that Coogler and the cast brought the action. Without giving any spoilers (for those reading from under their rock) the fight scenes were enthralling, showing not only the force that is the Black Panther, but also showcasing the unmatched ferocity of the women of Wakanda.

Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), is a sly, sleek spy with a regal presence and an enemy you don’t want to make. King T’Challa is enamored by her beauty and valor, but she still maintains her position beside him in battle, unjaded by the flattery. Also fighting alongside T’Challa is the Dora Milaje, a group of warrior Wakandan women led by Okoye (Danai Gurira). Running the dazzling show of vibranium-powered afrofuturism is Shuri (Letitia Wright), who is the Princess of Wakanda and a techno-genius with guns at the ready. Depictions that are sure to inspire little girls of color to beat up the boys on the playground for years to come (because of course, for Wakanda, they’d “do it without question”).

Also, the complexity and attention to detail in every aspect of Black Panther is not only mesmerizing to watch, but also very thought-provoking. Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) is maybe the most difficult character to grapple with (especially on the edge of a waterfall). He seeks the Wakandan throne after he has lived his life on the outside, seeing how complacent Wakandans have been to the struggle black people face around the world.

Is he a villain? Is he an anti-hero? Whichever one he is, he’s a damn good one. He may be a radical descendent of royal blood, but the energy in the audience when he speaks of the pain he’s seen people that look like him go through radiates with familiarity.

The complex characters that refuse to fit into a box in Black Panther make it so much more than a regular superhero blockbuster. From T’Challa’s confliction with his ancestors, to the unapologetic, robust black femininity, to a “villain” who’s just a bit too relatable, the depth of the film is something audiences will want to dive into over and over again.

Verdict: Black Panther is iconic. Showing actors from countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe, Guyana, and the U.S., the diversity of Pan-Africanism shines through so beautifully. The audience gets to see an African country far advance past the rest of society, a concept audiences have been proud to see.

Grade: A+