Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” is the story of T’Challa, a young African prince who takes on the mantle of king and superhero, and the centuries-old legacy that comes with it.
First introduced by Marvel Comics, the groundbreaking Black Panther character made its first appearance in “Fantastic Four Vol. 1,” published in 1966 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It’s important to note that the ownership and creation of Black Panther are by white men. However, most notably there were multiple new “Black Panther” publications from the likes of filmmaker Reginald Hudlin and author/journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates.
In 2016, the Marvel Cinematic Universe welcomed T’Challa/Black Panther, introducing him to a massive fan base in “Captain America: Civil War,” the record-breaking hit film that pitted the Avengers against one another.
Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the king of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.
It’s not hype. It’s real. “Black Panther” broke the chains of mediocrity. The rich history of the fantastical world of Wakanda is brought to life, stitching in the spiritual, the mystical and the technological influences in the “country’s” culture. The story anchors in the real world with strong, complicated but relatable characters to allow the audiences to take in a tangible, yet remarkable, experience.
Chadwick Boseman’s Wakandan king is a superhero with a complicated past and uncertain future, and an identity that matters. He’s flawed, therefore he’s believable.
Under Ryan Coogler’s sturdy direction, the nuances and details of the “Black Panther” storyline are impeccable. Structure firmly in place, there isn’t a stereotype on the screen. It’s a game changer. Whereas most films made by white males are celebrated for their mediocrity, the bar of true excellence in storytelling has been mounted high above the sky. To come close to claim what Coogler has achieved would require a spaceship to even attempt to claim the “throne.”
What makes “Black Panther” so explosive is that the story takes a look at “Black self-hatred” and the crimes we commit against each other. If we don’t own up to this fact, then we are doomed and should not really complain about the hell we created. I mean if “we” bring the gasoline, and “we” light the fire, why should we be screaming “help me?” There are no excuses for bad behavior and the consequences will bring “superheroes” to their knees.
This film is unabashedly political and highlights the power of Black women as very capable heroes with wisdom and a fearlessness never before seen on the screen.
Academy Award-winner Lupita Nyong’o’s character is Nakia a War Dog, a Wakandan spy often embedded in countries outside of Wakanda to observe and report back. She must decide whether she should be guided by her duty to her nation or her feelings for T’Challa.
Playing a Marvel villain, Erik Killmonger is Michael B. Jordan, who brings such devious levels of unbridled pain that this actor actually manages to elicit “sympathy” for the “devil.”
Okoye (Danai Gurai) is the head of the Dora Milaje, the all-female Wakandan special forces. She is the best fighter in Wakanda and she is fiercely loyal to the throne.
W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya, Academy Award nominated for “Get Out”) is the head of security for the Border Tribe, who live on the borders of Wakanda and serve as the first line of defense for the country. To outsiders, they appear to be what people would “expect” of a small African nation, but the truth is they are some of the fiercest warriors in Wakanda, intent on protecting the secrets of their nation at all costs.
Shuri (Letitia Wright) is T’Challa’s quick-witted little sister and tech wizard. She is second-in-line for the throne behind her brother and is the smartest person in Wakanda—the top scientist and the innovator behind the Black Panther’s updated suits and technology.
“It’s hard for a good man to be king,” is one of the best lines uttered in this film. How true, how true.
“Black Panther” stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis. The film is directed by Ryan Coogler from a screenplay he wrote with Joe Robert Cole.
“Black Panther” opens Feb. 16.