Why Black Panther is the Biggest Movie this Year
When Marvel writers Stan Lee and Jack Kirby first created the Black Panther character, they wanted to create someone that broke racial stereotypes at the time. But what they ended up with was a wealthy and intelligent king of the only nation in Africa that was never colonized by Europe – Wakanda. Not only did Black Panther inspire Black (and non-black) comic book fans everywhere after his debut in 1966 Fantastic 4 comic, but today’s film adaptation of the Wakandan King is no different. Let’s explore why.
Set in the ever-expanding Marvel Universe, Black Panther follows King, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) as he grapples with the recent death of his father and the new responsibility of ruling the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda. In the early days of his rule, the young king is faced with a relentless enemy named Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) who hopes to usurp T’Challa’s place as King and has a good reason for doing so. What follows is a Shakespearean tussle for power that threatens not only the stability of Wakanda but the rest of the world as well.
Black Panther is already the highest grossing movie of 2018 and is set to become the 10th most profitable movie of all time, which makes sense. Why you may ask? For many Black sci-fi and comic book nerds (including myself), this is their first exposure to a Black superhero that isn’t some poorly-written side character (apart from maybe Blade and Damon Wayan’s bumbling Blankman). Better yet, the entire cast is Black, spare Andy Serkis and an American accented Martin Freeman. It is also worth noting that T’Challa is supported by a team of impressive Black female characters, like his cunning love interest Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and the ever-loyal General Okoye (Danai Gurira) who steals the show at times with her charming wit and no-nonsense personality.
What makes all the hype even better is the fact that the movie is genuinely good. Directed by Ryan Kyle Coogler, Black Panther is told brilliantly and weaves a tale that presents both sides of the conflict as having reasonable motives for their actions. It is certainly Marvel’s smartest movie to date as it avoids all the classic superhero movie pitfalls like flat as paper CG villains (looking at you Justice League), dizzyingly over produced battle scenes, and a hero with no other motive than to ‘do the right thing.’
For many (including myself) Black Panther is more than just another superhero movie. This film portrays the diversity of the Black experience like no other film has, from African kingdom to the streets of Oakland, California. Black Panther also visualizes an important character that was once feared to have been lost to comic book obscurity. With the release of Black Panther Black kids everywhere no longer have to rely on side characters, like X-Men’s Storm, as we finally have a superhero we look like and can relate to.
You can expect to see Black Panther and the nation of Wakanda in Marvel’s long-awaited crossover movie Avengers: Infinity War which hits theatres April 27th.