Black Panther: What’s All The Hoopla About?

***Spoilers Ahead***


Marvel Studios (presents) / Walt Disney Pictures

Chaleisa Butler, Staff Writer

Marvel Comics has been creating fictional comic books for around 80 years, attracting superhero-lovers alike, and have even started to create movies based on some of their popular demands. The most recent, Black Panther, has been a highly-anticipated release, since the announcement of the movie in 2017. So far, the movie has done well with it’s first week out, totaling a massive $704.6 million in box office sales. Now of course, Marvel has yet to make a flop-movie, and with the anticipation of an African-based cast/setting, Black Panther was sure to not disappoint…..right?

Let’s start off with details of the movie, and if you haven’t seen it by now, sorry, but I’m basically going to tell you the entire movie without visuals. The movie takes place in the fictional African country of Wakanda, a city thought to be extremely poor, as Western media portrays it, but in actuality, is one of (if not the most) rich countries on Earth. They are rich in an element known as Vibranium, the strongest metal on Earth. Wakandans have manipulated this element so much it powers their entire city, is used for medicine, and even modern technology for Black Panther himself, formally known as King T’challa. T’challa doesn’t naturally have the title as King, so he goes through several battles with neighboring tribes who want his spot, which leads into major conflict, an ultimate distraction of the Vibranium being stolen by a European man (sound familiar?). I’m sure the last statement was a bit confusing but let’s add a bit more mix to the pot.

The original king, T’challa’s father, is dead a the time of T’challa’s reign, yet there’s some backstory that plays into why the throne gets taken from T’challa. *rewinds back to 1992* The king had a brother, (not shown more than 10 minutes in the movie, but still very important) who left Wakanda due to jealousy of his brother taking reign. He came to America and had a baby with an American, (Killmonger) something highly looked down upon by the Wakandans. In the midst of Killmonger growing up, the king comes back due to suspicion some of the Vibranium is missing, the King and his brother have an argument, and the brother is later exiled to Wakanda, (and later killed), for stealing Vibranium and informing the Europeans that Wakanda is extremely wealthy. Killmonger, still technically Wakandan, finds his father dead, and makes it his life mission to educate himself, and later travel to Wakanda to take the the throne from T’challa (who he especially envies, since T’challa’s father killed his father.) Taking reign, the fellow Wakandans are doing everything in their power to dethrone him, as Killmonger plans to basically colonize Wakanda to the Europeans. Since this is a Marvel movie, the Good Guy usually saves the day, the Bad Guy dies.

So, okay. A movie with a majority African cast (with the exception of two white characters and white extras), set in an African country…. Why does this have the African-American population in particular so excited? There have been movies already made with an African cast (Hotel Rwanda, Blood Diamond) with a similar setting in Africa. There are multiple scenes from the movie that show the different kinds of African culture, with their traditional clothing. One major reason is representation.

Westernized media has been white-washed for years, and seeing a black person on TV was rare, especially for major roles. So, naturally, AA families view Black Panther as a way to view themselves in a positive light, not as a slave, or some other degrading role from previously made movies. This is a movie really sparking interest, especially since a lot of news channels and major organizations have been buying out theaters for local schools to view the movie. Though the movie has some mild adult content, children usually miss these things, and are more focused on the action, or their favorite character accomplishing something. As for young girls, there is a character in the movie, Shuri, T’challa’s sister, who is a genius with anything STEM related. She has created all of Black Panther’s extremely high-tech gear, along with major systems for keeping the country of Wakanda alive and well (by the way, she seems to be about 16-17 years old). This can influence girls into swaying them that it’s ok to play with Legos, or enjoy subjects like science and math, that these don’t have to be just boy things. For boys, the main person to look up to would be Black Panther himself (T’challa), as he is a great male-figure. He portrays a very strong role to be in authority, and also be equally compassionate for his country. There isn’t a single time in this movie where T’challa is seen as something other than “perfect”. He has a sense of human-like qualities with the means to make mistakes, but Marvel couldn’t let the main character of their movie have such flaws.

Even disregarding the fictional aspects, a child can look and see an all-black cast and be inspired to be on TV, and act when they get of age. It is an overall inspiring movie for all kids to see, not just black kids, as they can see such positive images, and translate it into their own lives. If *insert character* can do it, so can I.