“Black Panther” lived up to its hype of possibly being the best movie of the year.
Directed by Marvel’s first African-American director, Ryan Coogler, the film nabbed $75.8 million dollars domestically on its opening day, according to CNN. “Black Panther” goes beyond its genre as a superhero movie to create role models for children. It’s a movie you can’t help but take your kid to see. And scheduling the release of the movie during Black History Month has given Black people everywhere something to get excited about. The almost entirely Black cast challenged the lack of diversity in Hollywood that has previously led to hashtags like #OscarsSoWhite.
The plot begins with the rest of the world thinking Wakanda is a “third-world” country in Africa, but Wakanda is actually an afro-futuristic society in possession of the strongest metal in the world, Vibranium.
After the death of the last king, the new heir prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is challenged by Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) for his place as king of Wakanda. As the Black Panther, Boseman promotes peace, philanthropy and love as T’Challa decides whether to use Wakanda’s resources to help the world. He is the kind of superhero that little Black boys need.
The other all-stars in the cast – like Angela Bassett, who plays the queen and T’Challa’s mother, and Lupita Nyong’o, who plays Wakandan princess Nakia – carry the movie brilliantly. Even though this is a Marvel movie, the choices made by both the cast and crew deliver commentary on culture by giving power to black characters and female crew members. Costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who also worked on movies like “Malcolm X” and “Selma,” is a giant in her field. The costumes were based on actual dress wear from real African tribes.
The triangles on the Black Panther suit represent “the sacred geometry of Africa,” according to Carter. The brightly colored costumes make Wakanda look like a place of happiness and joy. The scenery is beautiful with lush green trees and vivid sunsets. Not only is the beauty of the movie visually entertaining, but it is also great exposure to African culture.
While the plot focuses on the struggle between the men, this movie gives power to the women of the society. T’Challa’s tribe has all-female soldiers who are strong and smart woman and fight with Vibranium spears. The image of a strong female warrior has a lot of impact for little girls. But the actress who stole the show is Letitia Wright, who plays Shuri, T’Challa’s sister and the technical engineer of Wakanda. A young Black girl interested in the STEM field who has great sarcastic one-liners is a powerful role model for children.
If you’re interested in the typical fast-paced superhero movie, you’ll enjoy Black Panther, but the underlying messages about how much power Black people can yield will speak to viewers everywhere. The overall message of unity and love, as well as the importance of representation, will always make movies like these absolutely necessary.