“Black Panther” is well worth the hype

Jessi Rich, Staff Writer

In time for black history month, the long-awaited Black Panther finally came to theaters last Friday, February 16. “I’m tired of the same superheroes, so they really needed to branch out,” says an anonymous Milton student. “I’m anticipating an action-packed story.”  Though Marvel has long since built its empire in superhero films, the silver screen has never seen a narrative quite like this one.

The movie enthralls audiences from its first seconds with a flawlessly animated tale of the Black Panther, telling the origin of the fictional, powerful African country of Wakanda, the protagonist T’Challa’s homeland. When we get a full view of this nation minutes later, it’s a well-developed, technological oasis–a notable contrast to the beaten, starving image of Africa often imagined.

Since Marvel announced the making of Black Panther, expectations have run high not just for black representation, but for empowerment. “Cultural awareness is important, because it’s not just white people who do everything,” says freshman Jonah Schertz.  Director and writer of Black Panther Ryan Coogler delivered. African heritage is illustrated throughout the film’s entirety, with traditional tribal drum beats and singing–mixed with popular hip hop undertones as well–echoing in the background of several scenes. Natural hair and African-patterned clothing and headdresses are constant images.

Along with Wakanda’s blooming infrastructure and society, more than a few well-choreographed fight scenes showcase not just Black Panther’s power, but the power of the women that support him.

Considering the slim availability of Hollywood roles for women and minorities, the film’s female characters make it stand out. T’Challa’s sister, mother, and general fight for him from the movie’s beginning, and his love interest, Nakia, serves a purpose besides giving the new king heart eyes.

The cast of Black Panther is a prominent reason the movie astounds viewers. Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa) gives us more than a superhero; he creates an understandable human being with clear flaws and weaknesses. Oscar-winning Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia) empowers black women everywhere, and Michael B. Jordan (Killmonger) plays a well-rounded villain that audiences will love to hate.

With its brilliant characters, much-needed comic relief, and subtle digs into the political and social injustice black people face, the film is beyond all it is cracked up to be. The box office proved it, too, as Black Panther took in nearly 250 million dollars on its opening weekend, a record-breaking amount. Black Panther is not only a movie, but a statement.