The Black Panther: Why Is It So Special
The latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes in the form of Marvel Comic’s first mainstream African superhero, Black Panther. Many people may be familiar with other black heroes like Blade, Spawn, War Machine, and the Falcon from the recent films. This character differs greatly as he is not just a hero with powers, but a King. King of a fictional country hidden in Africa, Wakanda, that has never been conquered by European colonization. Black Panther represents a world of imagination that young people can look up to and be motivated by. Now that we finally have a live-action adaption that has become a major blockbuster, what makes the film so special?
Back in the mid-90’s, Wesley Snipes (Blade), was set to actually star and produce the first on-screen picture of Black Panther. Script rewrites, director changes, and the technology simply not capable of displaying Wakanda correctly, brought the project to a halt. Snipes would later leave to work on another Marvel film, Blade, about a Dhampir taking on vampires in New York City. Hope was all lost for a screen adaption of the first African superhero in comics.
T’Challa, the Black Panther was finally introduced on-screen in Captain America: Civil War. Played by actor Chadwick Boseman whose notable credits include: Jackie Robinson in “42”, and James Brown in “Get on Up.” Many were hyped to finally see the character, along with Marvel’s acquisition of Spider-Man. It wouldn’t be long before T’Challa’ssolo movie was announced for a February release date. A smart move by Marvel by the way, as February is Black History Month. The film was packed with an all-star cast that included Angela Bassett, Forest Whittaker, Michael B. Jordan, and more. With all those additions to the project, that is not only what made the movie special.
Black Panther the film, is a movie about identity. Yes, the film’s message may cater towards more of its black audience, but it’s really for everyone. Its message can be that of a political or social one in which usually many people tend to take a side. That’s usually what we, Americans, tend to do. In the film, T’Challa, who has just become King, faces his first challenge to his throne. This comes in the shape of his cousin, Erik Killmonger, who has seen the world from a different point of view as an African-American man. While T’Challa has never fully realized the plight around the world as he has been taught to protect his country. Wakanda is a rich country and the most technological-advanced country on the planet, but they hide those facts from the world so they may never be exploited.
Wakanda has been protected by their selfish ideals but also blinded as people that look like they have struggled, fought, and died for their right to be treated equally. Kilmongerintroduces to T’Challa the “real” world. T’Challa is forced to leave behind the world-view he once shared with all the previous Kings of Wakanda, and realize that it is indeed time to let the past die, and face the challenges in the days that come. Those challenges are what makes T’Challa the hero and King Wakanda deserves. That message is why the film so special.
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