Black Panther Claws its Way to the Top

A plot full of twists and turns solidifies Black Panther as a superhero movie worth its hype.


Erin Coffee, Staff Reporter

I was hesitant going in, as superhero movies are hit-or-miss for me and they don’t usually leave me satisfied. However, Black Panther brought elements to the table that were unlike any superhero movie I had seen before. I left the theater longing to see where the story would go next.

With some exceptions, most female characters are one-dimensional. Villains tend to have cliché motivations and the action scenes are repetitive.

Black Panther is layered with drama, rich characterization and unabashed culture. The powerful performances by all-star cast members like Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia) and Danai Gurira (Okoye) draw on the audience’s emotions and create suspense.

The film was directed by Ryan Coogler, who has previously directed Creed and Fruitvale Station.

“We were making a film about what it means to be African,” Coogler said in
an interview.

This theme came alive in the final product. Engrained in the plot is an intriguing contrast between the isolated African tribal culture and the futuristic technology of
urban life.

Groundbreaking Character Development

Social and racial narratives are unashamedly present in the movie’s underlying themes. Black Panther does a great job of simultaneously establishing hope for the future while addressing issues of the present.

Wakanda is the home of the Black Panther, or T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman. He is the king of the nation who faces difficult decisions throughout the movie that are creatively interwoven with the characters’ backstories.

T’Challa also contains superhuman abilities given to him by a magical potion. This, combined with the technological advancements of his country, makes him a force to be reckoned with.

T’Challa is surrounded by a refreshing, empowered group of female characters, whose diverse personalities and centrality to the story help Black Panther stand out from other superhero movies.

Characters like Martin Freeman’s Everett K. Ross and Letitia Wright’s Shuri add necessary comedic relief at times when tensions start to build.

Michael B. Jordan steals scenes as Erik Killmonger, who challenges T’Challa’s claim to the throne and creates an action-packed power struggle. The characters bring their own baggage and motives and you find yourself torn between who to root for.

A few scenes throughout the movie border on the James Bond spectrum of action, opting for the stereotypical car chases and casino brawls. However, the dynamic characters keep the movie from veering too far into cliché territory.

Cultural Influences

The movie’s central location, the mythical country of Wakanda, brings something new to the superhero world.

The fashion, scenery, cultural traditions and technological advancements instill wonder and excitement with their blend of conventional and innovative elements.

I personally enjoyed the vibrant designs of the Wakandans’ outfits and the unique hairstyles sported by each character. Each style made an impact in its own way and added complexity to the characters.

Another aspect of the movie that stood out was its refreshing music soundtrack, that brought in artists like Kendrick Lamar, the Weeknd and SZA. I experienced more hype during the intense scenes of the movie due to Lamar’s genius soundtrack.