In celebration of Black History Month, Marvel Studios released its highly-anticipated, latest installment in their cinematic universe, Black Panther. The film generated a great deal of anticipation as many saw it as a step in a progressive direction for filmmaking, and this was due to the majority of the cast being of African descent and the film’s setting of the fictional African country known as Wakanda. The film is projected to have a record-breaking opening weekend with it being the highest-grossing February opening ever and the sixth highest-grossing opening of all-time.
T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) becomes the newly crowned king of the fictional African country, Wakanda, following the death of his father, T’Chaka. The king of Wakanda undergoes a special tradition in which he ingests a rare herb granting him superhuman strength, agility and speed, making him the Black Panther – the sworn protector of Wakanda. After receiving information of the location of a long-time enemy Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), T’Challa will open a door that will bring challengers, Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), to his home country and reveal deep, disturbing secrets of his family.
The fictional African country of Wakanda is based loosely on countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Kenya. The mysticism of Wakanda comes from the presence of a very rare metal known as Vibranium, renowned for its strength, durability and scientific applications. Due to this, Wakanda is represented as a neo-futuristic, utopian society based within the heart of Africa with beautiful geographic features such as rolling hills, mountains and rivers.
Along with Chadwick Boseman, Black Panther boasts an impressive cast of established black Hollywood actors such as Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Sterling K. Brown and Forest Whitaker. The film is directed by Ryan Coogler who received critical acclaim for his directorial work in the Rocky Balboa reboot, Creed (2015). Marvel Studios has received much praise for its devotion to sticking to casts and crew who can identify with the stories being told of a prideful, successful African nation.
Overall, Black Panther represents a much-needed film for Hollywood that demonstrates that diversity is an issue that today’s society values and expects to see represented in all forms of media. Not only is this film worth seeing for its cultural relevance, the film is fast-paced, emotionally-charged and adequately balanced with light-hearted humor and strong performances. It is a must-see for audiences ranging from casual moviegoers to dedicated comic fans. Rating: 95/100