If you haven’t watched “Black Panther” yet, you definitely should; it’s a must-watch in the Marvel series. The story mainly follows T’Challa’s attempts to safeguard vibranium, the metal that Wakanda runs on, as he undergoes various trials and tribulations. Like every other worthy hero, he eventually proves himself to be the leader Wakanda needs. With such an intriguing plot, the movie was immediately met with raving reviews and record-breaking box offices following its release. The film has now grossed over US $921 million worldwide, making it the ninth highest grossing film in the United States, and for good reasons.
The movie set and cultural background of the film differentiate “Black Panther” from other Marvel hero movies. Directed by Ryan Coogler, the movie integrates rich details about African rituals, making the film more culturally authentic. Coogler aimed to intertwine advanced technology and African customs, two concepts that often seem irreconcilable. The costumes of the film are notable examples of his aim; for instance, the Dora Milaje (Wakanda’s special force) wear clothes resembling Maasai clothes. Hannah Beachler, the production designer of the movie, further incorporated details of local culture and modern technology in the scenery of the film to accentuate the cultural background of the film. Along with an almost all-African cast, such consideration for African culture truly brings a fresh perspective to the mood and environment of “Black Panther”. This design, paired with Marvel’s state-of-the-art computer graphics (CG) and cinematography, allows “Black Panther” to meet its expectations and beyond.
The screenplay is very cleverly written as well. For the first time in the MCU, “Black Panther” discusses mature themes. These themes are conveyed primarily through T’Challa’s growth. At first, T’Challa’s lack of strength is evident, making him more humane and relatable. As the story progresses, the character experiences epiphanies that force him to question his upbringing and reconsider whether the current traditions of Wakanda are truly what the world and his people need. Through such inner turmoil and challenges, T’Challa eventually grows both as a Black Panther and a wise Wakandan king. T’Challa’s character growth highlights themes such as correcting past wrongs and helping countries at the cost of potential war, making the movie more compelling.
There are, however, some features in the movie that people may dislike. One of my own personal peeves was the lack of futuristic fighting that I expected from a Marvel movie. As an avid Marvel fan, I expected the movie to contain jaw-dropping superhuman acts, such as the ones in “Iron Man” and “The Avengers.” However, “Black Panther” mostly features traditional fights, in which two people duel with a spear and a shield for the title of “Black Panther”. Though the scenes feature excellent camerawork and design, they fail to reach the high expectations that I hold for a superhero fight; it lacks the “oomph” that other characters in the MCU deliver in their respective films. Such a shortcoming, however, is understandable given the fact that the film deals with more adult themes than the other Marvel movies do; perhaps a more sophisticated and realistic type of combat in which T’Challa can’t easily crush his opponent is required to powerfully deliver these mature themes to the audience.
All in all, “Black Panther” is an excellent film. Staying true to its African roots, the movie elegantly tells its story of a young T’Challa finding true maturity and becoming a wise Wakandan king. When compounded with all of the well-thought design choices that Coogler made and Marvel’s signature CG, it’s easy to understand why the film has gained so much popularity.