“BLACK PANTHER” LIVES UP TO HYPE
The Marvel film we’ve all been waiting for has finally premiered.
On Feb. 16, “Black Panther” blessed the big screen. The fillm features a beautiful, dominant black cast, an all- black produced soundtrack and an overdue proper representation of Africa.
“Black Panther” was directed by Ryan Coogler, who won the 2013 top audience and jury awards for his lm “Fruitvale Station.”
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby during the Civil Rights Era in the ‘60s, the fearless African king and warrior was the very epitome of black civil rights activists fighting for their lives and rights.
The film is more than just a movie. For black children, it’s a chance to see a black hero in a sleek, black suit made virtually indestructible. Celebrities were buying out entire theaters just for fans. Only a few months prior, when the newest trailer for “Black Panther” was released, fans like myself were already hyping up the movie for how many boundaries it was breaking.
Because let’s face it: There’s not much diversity within the current Marvel movies.
There’s essentially been ten non-white actors in the past decade of Marvel movies, with four of them having died within the films, leaving only six total.
The support for “Black Panther” is so strong amongst the black community because of the fact that there’s a lack of diversity and representation that has been noticed for years in nearly all Hollywood films. Also, there’s a badass, fiery and intelligent cast of black women. “Black Panther” gave us what we had been dreaming for in a superhero movie: freakin’ diversity of race and gender.
Of course, “Black Panther” didn’t stop there.
Weeks prior to to the movie’s release, the Black Panther soundtrack hit Spotify. Rapper Kendrick Lamar, R&B singer The Weeknd and the soul- enriching SZA produced a hit playlist for already anticipating fans.
The album itself mixes the outcry of discrimination against the black community in “Black Panther,” with Bay Area slaps from SOBxRBE on “Paramedic” and the beautiful aching words of Jorja Smith’s “I am.” The album is currently number one on the Billboard chart and opened with approximately 154,000 sales in its first week.
Within each song on the track, major movie themes were explored. Lamar’s classic representation of his home state, California, was prevalent in “Paramedic,” a hyphy song that stays true to Bay Area roots and for the film itself, gives us one of many background songs that we play in our head as we see the main antagonist, Erik Killmonger, waltz on screen.
“All of the Stars,” performed by SZA, explores romantic tension between the two main characters, King T’Challa and his ex-girlfriend/Wakandan spy Nakia. SZA’s smooth rendition of their relationship is reminiscent of SZA’s most recent works from her newest album “CTRL.”
Within one week post- premiere, “Black Panther” skyrocketed past $500 million at the global box office. In the U.S. alone, the Marvel phenomenon has earned approximately $292 million — the highest grossing Marvel movie in history. Thanks
to critics, free screenings and word of mouth, “Black Panther” gained more than enough attention from anticipating fans around the world.
The enchanting cast begins with Chadwick Boseman who plays T’Challa, son of T’Chaka, as the newest king of Wakanda, his home hidden in plain sight somewhere in East Africa. Boseman’s performance as a young king seemed to be overshadowed the physical stature and looks of his enemy, Killmonger, but for fans who admired a sleek- armored man who fought for his kingdom, Boseman was the perfect candidate for playing King T’Challa.
T’Challa himself is the epitome of a “good man,” said previous king T’Chaka, but his purity could easily be taken as weakness or even worse, be taken advantage
of. However, throughout the film, I noticed a change in understanding that Boseman’s character had towards his own race and the people in his kingdom. Instead of isolating his people from the world at large, and the global plight of the black community, he comes to the realization that he should help everyone — no matter where they are from or who they are.
Protecting the king and the people of Wakanda, is military leader Okoye — a fearsome, proud and stoic woman played by Danai Gurira. Okoye is a part of the elite Dora Milaje, a team of Wakandian women thought to be the best fighters in the entire world.
Not only is she clever and pretty sassy when she wants to be, Okoye is the most loyal person I’ve ever seen in a film. For strong women everywhere who have the chance to see Gurira on the big screen, it’s definitely a sight to see: a bald, powerful, dark-skinned warrior who’s a part of the world’s biggest fighting team and also practically leads it, because she’s the best of the best.
If there’s any woman to truly fear, it’s Okoye.
Alongside Okoye, another member of Dora Milaje is Nakia, played Lupita Nyong’o, who actively tries to get Wakanda involved with the outside world because of their abundant resources and technology. Much to King T’Challa’s hestiance, Nakia pushes for the good of others, which may also be a reason to why Boseman’s character makes significant changes in attitude.
Within the Film
No, Wakanda is not a real country. It would be beyond phenomenal if it was, alas not all dreams can come true.
Fictionally, Wakanda’s location has changed throughout the Marvel comic universe (MCU), but it’s been known to be located somewhere in East Africa.
The Wakandian kingdom has a major secret: vibranium, a metal unique
to their region that enhances their plant life and grants them nigh on unlimited energy and technological potential.
Of course, with something so powerful, rare and protected — its bound to be hunted.
The film takes charge in dealing with racism, family matters and ultimately, doing what is right for everyone. T’Challa seeks to be a wise king, instead of a follower king who does exactly what the king before him had done.
As a whole, the film met my complete expectations. A few friends of mine argued that the film itself was “overhyped” and one companion who came with me to the midnight preview had said that he “didn’t understand why everyone was so excited about another Marvel movie.”
I loved this film.
From the character development, to the relationships among every individual, to the epic fight scenes that weren’t overdone but realistic and the fact that this is a superhero movie that finally appeals to black community as a whole.
They weren’t “minor” or “supporting” characters — the cast of “Black Panther” were black heroes and black villains and black representations of what is not correctly shown in movies. Children and teenagers have a fictional hero to look up
to, giving them feelings of empowerment and greatness.
Instead of the same actors we’re all used to seeing repeatedly in the last decade’s Marvel films, there are new men and women to admire who break boundaries even off-screen. Boseman, Wright, Jordan, Nyong’o and Gurira were talented, fantastic actors who were made for their roles. Even hearing Wright in her normal British accent versus her African accent that is depicted perfectly on-screen threw me o — I’m that invested in “Black Panther.” I can’t even believe the actors when they’re not acting anymore.
“Black Panther,” from my perspective and the reality of its growing box office success, was a visually stunning, astounding lm — and a pleasure to watch. I’m a broke college kid, so when I have the money, I’ll go watch it one more time. Maybe two more. Maybe three. Who knows? “Black Panther” is a movie you don’t want to forget in the background.
My best advice before the movie? Buy a ticket, obviously. How else you getting in?
By Azia Kelikoa’elakauaikekai Jaelyn Lualhati,
Arts & Entertainment Editor