Review: Black Panther Is More Than Just Another Marvel Film

Posted by The Girl with the Loudspeaker in Culture-Vulture
February 27, 2018

Spoiler Alert

When I first heard about the movie “Black Panther”, the only reason I wanted to watch it was that it was a Marvel movie and I am an avid Marvel cinematic universe fan. Their movies are amazing, a treat to the eyes, their humour is fantastic and above all, I love their villains.

With the shift in time, it was important for Marvel to make a movie which was not completely white-washed, and had important female characters in it that were not there as mere eye-candy. In that respect, Black Panther definitely delivered. I will look at the movie from several angles.

1. The Cast And Crew

The movie revolves entirely around black people in Wakanda. The director of the movie, Ryan Coogler, is also a black man, and so is the screenwriter. This meant that the movie would be a unique one to come to theatres because it has been alleged several times that a movie comprising entirely of a black cast would never be a hit at the box office.

“Black Panther” has broken that myth and with the lead cast comprising of Chadwick Boseman, Michael Jordan, Letitia Wright and Danai Gurira, the movie has been breaking box office records. It has already broken the opening week record of Deadpool, a movie with an all-white cast. It is a movie about black people, directed by black people and therefore, it is a beautiful representation which is quite unique and fresh. Instead of having to look at the black community from the viewpoint of white people, we look at them from their own viewpoint. It’s fresh, healthy and refreshing.

2. The Only White Man In The Movie

The movie has a completely black cast, save for Everett K. Ross, who does not appear to be the hero of the movie at all. He is rescued by black people, and they continue to tell him to shut up, or call him terms like “coloniser”. He continues to take orders from the Wakandans till the end of the movie, and does not turn out to be the saviour of black people. This is no “Jungle Book”, and Ross is no English man who is going to save the Wakandans from poverty and backwardness, for they are the most technologically advanced people on the planet. He is outwitted and outranked everywhere throughout the movie – and quite correctly, does not turn about to be the hero in the end.

3. The Women In The Movie

The movie boasts plenty of action scenes. All the trusted people around the King T’Challa are strong women. His general is a female warrior, his sister is the scientist behind every technology that Wakanda boasts of, his ex-girlfriend is a woman with a purpose to liberate black people.

These women are not there to please your eyes. Indeed, they are strong, and without them, T’Challa cannot be the hero that he is. They do not provide him with mere emotional support, they also support him with his decisions as king. They support him when he is fighting for the kingship of Wakanda. Whether the opponent is Ulysses Klaue or Killmonger, the main supporters aren’t the men, they are the women. Indeed, when Black Panther tries to save Nakia, his ex-girlfriend, instead of being grateful, she tells him that he ruined the mission that she was undertaking. When he goes to fulfil his mission of finding and killing Klaue, he trusts the female general and his ex-girlfriend. These women aren’t eye candies, they aren’t here for anyone’s entertainment.

Another strong female character in the movie is the sister of T’Challa – princess Shuri, who is the brains behind Wakanda’s technological marvels. She designs her brother’s suits and weapons, and uses them against the enemy herself, when needed.

4. The Music And Design

The music and the design of the movie is a heavenly medley of tribal folk songs of Wakanda, and they go very well with the country itself, which is a beautiful mix of technological advancement and tradition. Instead of going with a background score which would resonate with a white audience, they are quite rooted in the black culture.

Much like the difference that was brought to the screen when a female director made a movie on a female superhero (Patty Jenkins directed “Wonder Woman”), this movie also portrays a huge difference between how black people are portrayed in white-washed movies and here. The villain is someone we can sympathise with on every level, especially because he is fighting the cause of oppression. The final dialogue of the ‘villain’ hits you hard.

Michael B Jordan as Killmonger

“Bury me in the ocean. With my ancestors who jumped from the ships. They knew it was better to die than live in bondage.”

The sadness that you feel at his death is immense, and so is the fury that is filled within one when they realise exactly how white people oppressed them for hundreds of years. You cannot really blame them for wanting to take revenge on their oppressors, and that’s why the movie also presents a beautiful moral dilemma.

It is a must-watch movie for everyone, and it is the best Marvel movie till date to hit the screens. When I entered the cinema hall, I wanted to watch it for Marvel but I left with plenty of other reasons to watch the film.