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Synopsis

Black Panther takes place after the events of Avengers: Civil War. Following the conflict that killed his father, T’Chaka, T’Challa is tasked with the responsibility of leading Wakanda. While he may be used to the mantle of Wakandan protector as Black Panther, he is now tasked with the arguably more important task of acting as king. That means learning how to lead as his own man, without his father, but also confronting some unfortunate truths about Wakandan history.

Much like Thor: Ragnorak, Black Panther’s story centers around a kingdom in distress and a new leader having to come into his own. However, if Thor was a depth charge, Black Panther would be a concussion grenade. The crux of this story isn’t T’Challa coming into his own so much as it’s what that is supposed to mean for Wakanda and how it relates to the rest of society.

Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman reprising his role as T’Challa (Black Panther), Wakandan king and Protector, Michael B Jordan as Killmonger, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, T’Challas former lover and Wakanadan War Dog, Danai Gurira as Royal army general Okoye, Daniel Kaluuya as Border Tribe leader W’kabi, Martin Freeman as CIA Agent Ross, Latitia Wright as T’Challa’s sister and resident tech expert Shuri, Winston Duke as M’Baku, leader of the Jabari tribe, and Andy Serkis as black market arms dealer Klaue

Obligatory

Let’s get this out of the way, this movie is Black as fuck. Look at the cast. Look at the setting. Look at the themes. It’s a universe in which Africa is home to one of the most advanced, most powerful nations in the world, self sufficient and hidden in plain sight. They’re skeptical of western nations (and, if we’re honest, white people in general) and have NO chill about it. It’s an action romp with the utmost reverence for the motherland and its culture. It would be no surprise if it resonates with a large portion of the African American populace

Pros

Cut to the Chase – The film posits an easily accessible fantasy for many, but it doesn’t rest on its laurels by merely revelling in it. It goes one step further to say “Wakanda is a quiet superpower. So what?” For all of its wealth and power, Black Panther offers just as much of a scathing indictment of Wakanda as it ever does of those “colonizers”

Caveats

Social Commentary – If there’s one thing I’ve figured out that people don’t seem to like, especially in fictional media, is social commentary on current events. Black Panther is full of it. Remember how I said this film has no chill? Shade is thrown at past injustices against Africa and African Americans. But more striking may be the parallels between Wakanda’s isolationist doctrine and more recent attitudes surrounding american immigration policies.

verdict

I say all that to say this: Black Panther is a comic blockbuster with a reverential African flavor. That makes it important culturally and is easy to miss if you view it only as just another comic book movie. But even if the historical context is lost on you, you need not worry. It’s an enjoyable ride with a good soundtrack, which includes the likes of Snoop Dogg, PSY, Kendrick Lamar, The Weekend and more. It’s a good “start” to the Black Panther segment of MCU and you should go see it in preparation for Infinity War later this spring.

I give Black Panther a 4.2 out of 5


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