First things first: Rest In Peace Jack Kirby. Why? Because the million dollar record breaking phenomenon known as Black Panther is the brainchild of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. For some, Black Panther’s introduction to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) in Civil War, was their introduction to the Black Panther period. That is unfortunate as this character has been in existence since the early sixties. This movie has been what some of T’Challa’s fans have been waiting on for over half a century.
One of the biggest complaints Minority groups have had with the entertainment industry (among pay differences, being typecast and etc.) was representation. The Ryan Coogler directed blockbuster addressed this with melanin for days and in various shades. For those not familiar, the movie is set in the beautiful African country of Wakanda located on the continent of Africa. While to the rest of the world Wakanda looks to be a third world country, things couldn’t be further from the truth. Wakanda is the richest country on the entire planet, largely because they have the world’s supply of Vibranium, the rarest metal on Earth. Just so you understand the context, Captain America’s indestructible shield is made of this metal.
According to the movie Wakanda came by this rare metal due to a meteorite composed of this valuable metal that crash landed onto their country. Wakanda’s technology is ahead of the world’s by leaps and bounds they just don’t know it. The city is hidden from the world via a holographic projection of a forest.
The Black Panther himself is a mantle passed down from king to king of Wakanda. The Panther is modeled after the god they serve the panther god Bast. The Panther’s powers are derived from ingesting a heart shaped herb(the herb was some of the flora that was changed when the vibranium meteorite crash landed into Wakanda. There’s so much more rich history that goes into the background of the Black Panther and Wakanda that I suggest you take the time to research the characters and some of the backstory.
The movie follows the newest Black Panther T’Challa as he navigates being the newest king of Wakanda after his father T’Chaka was murdered. The movie quickly introduces us to some of the main integral characters to the story. The movies main villain is Erik Killmonger who is dead set on making his way to Wakanda, as he has plans for their technology that the rest of the world may take issue with. I won’t spoil the movie for you but I will say that all of the positive comments that critics have made about Black Panther are all true. This is the third movie Ryan Coogler has directed that has had over a 90% (Fruitvale Station, Creed, and Black Panther) rating on the website Rotten Tomatoes. The budget he had was the biggest ever for an African American director, over $200 million in the box offices in the opening weekend, perhaps the blackest cast ever in a blockbuster film, oh and the best warriors in the film were black women!! Many have fallen in love with Princess Shuri, the technological mastermind behind a lot of T’Challa’s tech upgrades. Many are calling her the Disney Princess we have all been waiting on.
This movie is sure to be a conversation starter as it has many layers and is so well thought out. Many people left the theater feeling empowered, encouraged, and uplifted. Wakanda offers a wonderful glimpse of what could have been if Africa had never been colonized, as Wakanda had never been colonized or conquered. The fact that this Black Country had something that no one else in the world had, is a message sure to resonate with many minority groups. Many have watched this movie twice within the opening weekend and are planning to see it for a third time. My sister in law took her two daughters to see the movie and later in the middle of the night her three year old came up to her unprompted and said “I wanna be a hero girl when I grow up.” That is exactly why representation matters. In every place and space, it does one’s heart good to see themselves in spaces that they weren’t used to seeing themselves in. With Marvel already in talks of a sequel, it pretty much goes without saying: you need to see this movie. Wakanda Forever.