Black Panther

Directed by Ryan Coogler best known for 2013’s Fruitvale Station and 2015’s Creed, Black Panther is not your typical superhero movie and surpasses the innumerable installments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a result of its empowering story, terrific acting, and dazzling visual effects. Significant for being a Hollywood blockbuster with an almost all black cast, the plot revolves around the titular superhero character Black Panther whose real name is T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman who has portrayed such African American icons as Jackie Robinson and Thurgood Marshall, returns home to the fictional African country of Wakanda to become king after the death of his father T’Chaka. Posing as a Third World country that does not receive foreign aid, Wakanda is mostly hidden from the rest of the world and is actually a very technologically advanced civilization powered by a magical metallic substance known as vibranium that is only present in the nation. To become ruler and continue to have the powers of the Black Panther, T’Challa must ingest a special flower filled with vibranium and undergo an ancient ritual to connect with his ancestors, overseen by the spiritual leader Zuri who is played by Oscar winner Forest Whitaker. The CGI visual effects underscore a modern society complete with futuristic skyscrapers and flying cars that also incorporate a traditional sense of African style and heritage focused on a connection with nature and animals. Eventually, the new young king is faced with an enemy force led by a white South African arms dealer named Ulysses Klaue, played by a wonderfully wicked Andy Serkis, who wants to get his hands on the powerful vibranium and expose Wakanda. The evil Klaue is partnered with former black ops solider Erik “Killmonger” Stevens, played by the terrific Michael B. Jordan, who wants to overthrow T’Challa for reasons we do not find out about until later. T’Challa must confront these outsiders with the help of Nakia, his ex-lover and spy known as a War Dog and played by Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, and Okoye, the strong leader of an all-female special forces unit and played by Danai Gurira. Rounding out the empowered female cast of characters, he receives many of his technological powers from his sister and brilliant inventor Shuri, played by the charismatic Letitia Wright. The Wakandans are later assisted by the only other white character CIA agent Everett K. Ross, played by Martin Freeman, whose life is saved after being treated in Wakanda with the healing powers of vibranium. By having a white character saved by the black characters, the stereotypical white savior archetype is reversed with the black society helping others with their more advanced technology and intellect. Overall, I thought it was a brilliant film that will definitely thrill fans of the superhero comic book movie genre with its gorgeous CGI and well-choreographed fight sequences, and it also will appeal to those looking for a thought-provoking cinematic experience that is filled with powerful messages for black culture and women.

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