- Last Updated: Thursday, 15 February 2018 18:29
BLACK PANTHER isn’t just a blockbuster superhero movie. For a lot of people, specifically people of color and women, it’s the chance to see yourself reflected on the screen and feeling empowered. The Marvel movie poses a lot of questions about how we are as a people, our history of oppression and the responsibility that comes with having power. Big action pieces are often mindless popcorn flicks, but that's not the case with BLACK PANTHER.
You get plenty of action and fight scenes in BLACK PANTHER like any other superhero movie but what sets it apart is a good story (although it does lag in the beginning) that has worldwide implications and it addresses societal issues particularly the oppression of African-Americans. Director Ryan Coogler doesn’t preach in BLACK PANTHER but rather subverts the topics within the villain’s motives. Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger doesn’t just want to rule Wakanda and the world using their technology, but he wants to weaponize the oppressed around the world and give them the power to defend themselves. While it’s understandable where Erik is coming from, it’s a dangerous prospect. That causes Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa to question why Wakanda hasn’t reached beyond their borders to help the world with their powerful technology that could save millions.
Social issues is nothing new for Marvel movies. Tony Stark had to rethink his day job as a maker of weapons of mass destruction when he became Iron Man. That’s what made IRON MAN more than just your friendly neighborhood superhero. In the same way, WONDER WOMAN presented a lot of social commentary about war and why humans kill each other. Diana, as the outsider, ponders the state of humanity and whether its worth saving.
And let’s talk about the women of BLACK PANTHER. The actresses outshine their male counterparts with their no-nonsense attitude and willingness to protect their king and Wakanda. Their fighting skills make them kick ass ladies we can look up to. Danai Gurira as Okoye, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Leticia Wright as Shuri and Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda are the quintessential role models in their own unique ways. There are no cookie cutter women here. BLACK PANTHER represents them as women are in real life. They have no super powers but rely on their fighting skills with the occasional help from their advance weaponry.
Leticia Wright’s Shuri will no doubt empower young girls to see themselves as scientists and inventors. She’s the Q from the James Bond movies with her advance gadgetry and science. Aside from being smart, she’s also the precocious little sister who gives attitude to her big brother. Coogler allows Shuri to be a normal girl yet smart as hell.
BLACK PANTHER foremost is an action superhero movie, but director/writer Ryan Coolger has elevated the genre to a new heights with social commentary that leaves you pondering the questions posed in this movie. It’s escapism with social responsibility.