Warrior. Hero. King.
The long-awaited film takes the world by storm as box offices shatter beneath the weight of records being broken. On the opening weekend alone, Black Panther exceeded a profit of $200,000,000. This surpasses the opening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) and Deadpool (2016.)
Welcome to Wakanda, an undiscovered country with abundant natural resources, wealth, and technology far beyond the outside world’s comprehension. Despite these advantages, tradition is a strong theme within the film. Faces accented with symbolic paints, pieces of jewelry decorate bodies, and native wear is complementary to the plotline and the heritage of a secluded African kingdom.
Thick accents are crisp off the tongue and take the influence of neighboring regions, such as Uganda. The accent is not solely taken from another African dialect and was created for the purpose of the film. In addition, a complete language was forged, as well as a specific Papyrus-esque script that is used for written Wakandan- which is made up of triangular characters.
The film opens upon a suited Prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) as he prepares to engage in a solo mission, and the film doesn’t hesitate to sink into the action as soon as the opening credits close. He is warned by his mother, the queen of Wakanda, to “never freeze.” In response, he answers that he “never freezes,” with a grin and a cross-chest handshake. This phrase is ironic when the plot delves deeper, despite the comedic reassurance.
The first scuffle is short-lived and sharp, as T’Challa’s strength and his agility are clearly exhibited. This is a brief scene, as are other battles before he returns victorious to the awaiting Wakandans. In Captain America: Civil War, the death of the king of Wakanda, T’Chaka (John Kani) is a vital plot of development for Boseman’s character.
It isn’t long after when we see a prince becomes a king, and we see the events that go down when it comes to crowning hierarchy. Again, Black Panther narrows in on a more traditional angle, guided by the directing eye of Ryan Coogler. Highly-decorated spectators gather communally around an everflowing-yet-shallow pool to watch the “anointing” ceremony of a king. M’Baku (Winston Duke) challenges for the throne, though is not the only competitor to arise throughout the duration of the film.
The film circulates around T’Challa’s defending his throne and his people, which diverges from other origin stories of other heroes. There is more of a core structure of self-discovery and awareness rather than there are long-winded battles and external struggles. There are scenes, however, as he is pinned against minor antagonist Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) and his manic insanity on the streets of South Korea, as well as major antagonist N’Jadaka, Erik Killmonger, or the Golden Jaguar (Michael B. Jordan.)
Killmonger is easily one of the Marvel Universe’s most complex baddies, and one that takes many names. There isn’t much of his backstory featured within the film, though he is related to T’Challa and his family, as cousins. There is an abundance of pent-up rage and lust for the kingdom as he believes that he is entitled to the throne. His struggles are projected onto a country, as he massacres and claws his way towards his self-fulfilling prophecy. Even after briefly defeating his enemy, his reign is short-lived as the pair battle it out.
Marvel flexes their impressive editing skills during the car chase through South Korea. Teenage genius and princess of Wakanda Shuri (Letitia Wright) operates her brother’s escape vehicle from afar, as an interactive holographic simulation allows her to drive and manipulate the car remotely. In addition to her intelligence, she reimagined the Black Panther suit that T’Challa wears and integrates a defense forcefield to keep him from harm.
Shuri is an outstanding character, and audiences find it difficult to not like her. Witty, clever, sharp-tongued and sense of humor allows Wright to flourish. She assists to her own nation while in combat, and to aids, such as General Evertt T. Ross (Martin Freeman,) during his dire time of need. Fans have quickly taken a liking to her, and anticipate seeing her further in Avengers: Infinity War this May.
The entire score of the film is rap and hip-hop based, intertwined with traditional drum beats and other African styles of music. A complete album from multiple artists was released, which includes music either from the movie or heavily rooted from it. There is definitely a modern presence around traditional, ancient influence.
The only negative aspect that is easy to pinpoint is the weak use of CGI animation during the largest combat scene of the film. Warriors that ride in on computerized rhinoceroses cannot convince audiences that their mounts are not created digitally, and the work in this scene is weaker than the rest of the film in its entirety.
Remember to stay around after the credits, as we are rewarded with two post-credit scene from Marvel that leads directly into Avengers: Infinity War, and re-introduce an important character.
Overall, Black Panther is a cinematic triumph. It dominates and overcomes racial and social barriers while executing a superhero film. It vocalizes issues while delighting moviegoers on a global scale.