I’ll start by saying this: if any part of you is even remotely considering seeing Black Panther in theaters, do it. You’ll thank me later.
Now, allow me to elaborate.
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about “Black Panther” is the inclusion and representation of many real African cultures. For example, several characters proudly wear different body modifications, like raised scars on their chests and torsos, pierced faces and other physical traits traditional to African tribes. Not to mention that a majority of the wardrobe, hairstyles, and music featured throughout the film is heavily inspired by (if not entirely taken from) African cultures. Another intriguing aspect of this film is the role that women play in it. “Black Panther” highlights the strength and power of women, specifically black women, like no other superhero film has before. The Black Panther himself is protected and served by a regiment of warrior women known as Dora Milaje, who don armor and beautifully shaved heads. Well into the film, we get to see these women in full combat mode as they go head-to-head against their male counterparts to protect their king. Even the younger sister of the Black Panther, Shuri (Letitia Wright), sheds the typical role of a fragile princess in exchange for a super intelligent tech wizard, who uses her knowledge to develop weapons, medicine, transportation and a new suit for her big brother.
One of the most visually breathtaking scenes in the film occurs toward the beginning, as Prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Okoye (Danai Guriria), descend into Wakanda, a fictional African country that thrives off a valuable metal called Vibranium. Accompanied by African rhythms and melodies, Wakanda is revealed to us in all its lush, perfect beauty, and even the characters themselves are blown away at the sight of it. Not only that, but there’s a striking contrast between the rural ways of life and the technological advancements shared by the Wakandans. Sheepherders are seen running to keep up with T’Challa’s state-of-the-art airplane as it flies by. Families living in huts watch as the plane soars overhead. It becomes clear that this is not a country based on social stratification, but rather the freedom to live however one chooses.
Of course, “Black Panther” isn’t just two hours and 14 minutes of perfect sunshine and rainbows. The conflict presented in “Black Panther” is the most real thing about the movie. Early on in the film, T’Challa’s father, King T’Chaka, is seen visiting his brother N’Jobu in Oakland, California, in the early 1990s. N’Jobu is serving as a spy for Wakanda, yet he and his brother soon enter into a disagreement about Vibranium, which N’Jobu has been smuggling out of Wakanda to help the outside world. His argument is that it’s Wakanda’s duty to the world, especially black people, to use the Vibranium to fight back against those who abuse their power. This highlights the obvious barrier between Wakandans and their pan-African brothers and sisters, who face prejudice and hardship in other parts of the world, while the Wakandans don’t. Yet this issue on whether or not to share their precious resources persists throughout the film and presents a tough choice for T’Challa as he faces multiple enemies in different forms.
The actors in this film also went above and beyond to portray dynamic characters that are easy to fall in love with. “Black Panther” features film veterans like Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman, as well as up-and-comers like Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright and Winston Duke. Chadwick Boseman has not only a voice like warm honey, but also a remarkable understanding of what it means to be the Black Panther. Of course, Lupita Nyong’o is always a breath of fresh air when it comes to playing any part, especially that of Nakia. Yet Michael B. Jordan is possibly the most commendable actor for his role in the film, playing Erik “Killmonger”, an American foil to the Black Panther who also gives the film some of its most quotable lines.
Overall, go see “Black Panther.” Just do it.