“Black Panther” Presents a Long-Awaited Hero

Cy Burchenal, Staff Reporter

Illustration by Haley King

Beautifully shot and with a talented cast of actors, the newly released film “Black Panther” is an exceptional gift to theaters that conveys important themes and messages. Black Panther is as exciting and entertaining as blockbusters get–an instant classic–and immediately stands out among the very best of the superhero genre, comparable to “The Dark Knight,” “The Avengers” and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films. It is smartly written and engaging, the heroes are relatable and galvanising, the villains are sympathetic yet terrifying and the world feels full of possibilities.

Chadwick Boseman stars as T’Challa, king and defender of the secretive, highly advanced, African nation of Wakanda. Bearing the ancient duty of the Black Panther, T’Challa struggles to reconcile the politics and uncertainties of his kingdom in the face of a changing world and challengers to his throne.

Black Panther deals beautifully with universal human themes, such as the corrupting nature of revenge and the tragedy of inherited guilt.  Especially moving was the scene when T’Challa confronts a vision of his dead father and confesses his uncertainty about being king. This scene speaks to common human feelings of anxiety and questioning one’s abilities, effectively connecting the audience with a larger-than-life movie character.

In addition to addressing universal human themes, “Black Panther” also speaks to African and African American identity. This is central to not just the themes and characters, but also the plot itself. As such, this film undoubtedly carries much meaning to millions of Africans, African Americans, black people in the U.K. and others who have for decades wanted to see a film made for them attain this level of acclaim and notoriety. While all can love the film and be moved by it, the importance of “Black Panther” to people from this cross-section of society is especially poignant.

The acting in the film resulted in the effective conveying of its themes and compelling plot line. Chadwick Boseman may not have been a household name before he took the role of T’Challa, but he will be now. Simply put, he is brilliant, and he beautifully conveys both T’Challa’s determination and uncertainty, as well as his incorruptible commitment to doing what is best for his people.

On the other hand, Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, the main antagonist in the movie, is one of the most terrifying, charismatic and humanistic villains put to film in recent memory. His background as an abandoned child is sympathetic and tragic, his methods are barbaric and ruthless and his thesis is revolting and captivating in its scope and implication.

In short, “Black Panther” is a staggering pop cultural achievement, both in its unique identity and quality. Seeing this movie is worth the time and money, and it is a unique film unlike any other Marvel cinematic experience.