At a time when we look at the popular with contempt, Marvel comes up with a much needed superhero film that portrays black culture in all its glory. One of the highest grossing films of the franchise, worldwide, Black Panther explores themes like family, legacy, the pristine image of nobility while also subtly hinting at the refugee crisis and questioning the very idea of borders and who decides that resources within a certain territory must not be shared.
The plot is a continuation of the scene in Captain America: Civil War, where T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) helplessly holds his dying father. T’Challa, the rightful heir to the throne, is now, regardless of his readiness, thrown into the limelight. Soon, T’Challa who asks (in a vision) for his father’s grace and wisdom to have ruled like his father did, is confronted with the bitter truth of his father’s past. He has to face Ulysses Klau (Andy Serkis) who stole Wakanda’s Vibranium (the metal that is pretty much the reason for Wakanda’s greatness). Michael Jordan as Erik Killmonger gives a convincing performance as someone who has rage taken them over after being shoved under the carpet like dirt.
This is a Black nation untouched by the colonising powers. However Wakandans treat those different from them with utmost respect, with Nakia (Lupita Nyong’O) and T’Challa bringing back home Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) after he almost died trying to save Nakia’s life. Scenes between Everett Ross and Shuri (Letitia Wright) or M’Baku (Winston Duke) are written beautifully with the ironical humour adding a much needed light-heartedness to an otherwise majorly serious film, to an extent, making Everett Ross, because of his relative technological backwardness seem like the black man’s burden. In fact Shuri’s brilliance and wit has gained her the image of everybody’s favourite Disney princess of 2018.
Wakanda itself stands in complete contrast to the rest of the African continent, which raises doubts in T’Challa’s mind (thanks also to Nakia) about what a good ruler must change after learning from their ancestors mistakes. It explores a possibility of balancing the traditional with the modern, of not shying away completely from contact with the rest of the world, of putting their natural gifts and talents to the use of the marginalized and ostracized outside of their own little community.
Right from the magnificent long shot that the film begins with, featuring the movie credits, the shots exuberate a magnetic brilliance that keeps the movie-goer’s eyes glued to the screen. Replete with impeccable battle scenes (not unlike every big budget Marvel film), Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther is the kind of film that gets to every person irrespective of age and thus, it came as no surprise as theatre goers got out of the screening with shouts of “Wakanda Forever”.