by Peter Niverth ’18
The Marvel franchise has long been known for its multitude of superheroes, with each one sharing a similar background and reason for fighting. It usually entails parents killed at a young age, the young hero struggling to find their place in a world which shuns those with unique abilities, and a villian who just wants to watch the world burn.
Yet the latest of Marvel’s hero movies, “Black Panther,” takes the story to a new level. The movie takes place in an isolated country in Africa called Wakanda. The countries newly crowned king, T’Challa (Chad Boseman), also known as the Black Panther, rules with the desire to protect his people while simultaneously keeping the prosperity of his nation hidden from the rest of the world.
This is where “Black Panther” sets itself apart from other superhero movies. The film features a refreshing plot that centers around the preservation of Wakanda rather than the world. The movie’s main antagonist, a Wakandan who grew up in California named Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), is a villian whose sole desire is to see Wakanda take its place as the strongest nation with its technology that far exceeds the rest of the world’s capabilities.
The movie sets itself apart even further with its progressive cast of mostly African American actors. The two Wakandan warriors, W’Kabi and M’Baku, were expertly played by Daniel Kaluuya and Winston Duke, respectively. “Black Panther” also has its share of lead women, such as Naki (Lupita Nyong’o), Okoye (Danai Gurira), and Shuri (Letitia Wright), each of whom held their own in every fight scene. Overall, the well-chosen cast brought some much-desired diversity to the Marvel universe.
Besides the performance of the actors, “Black Panther,” is a visually astounding film. A city brimming with advance technology, such as magnetically lifted railcars or caverns filled with the sought-after metal Vibranium, is no easy task to create. Yet the movie presents Wakanda with such beauty that any movie goer will immediately wish to see it in person (if it were possible).
Not only does the movie please the eye, but its soundtrack gives the ears a treat as well. A mix of traditional African drumming and modern American rap music greets the viewer during talks in the throne room or the suspenseful fighting on the battlefield.
“Black Panther” easily separates itself from the rest of the Marvel universe with its diverse cast, well-written plot, and masterful use of computer imaging. Yet Marvel fans and ordinary moviegoers alike cannot wait to see how the story of the Black Panther fits in with his fellow heroes in the intersecting Marvel universe.