This past week I had the pleasure of watching The Black Panther, the latest installment into the Marvel Universe. While I have many mixed feelings about the Marvel Universe and the movies they produce (when will the installments end? When will I be free from this world of superheros? How soon can I buy tickets to Avengers 3?) I do think The Black Panther was the best of the Marvel movies.
There are two things I look for when evaluating a movie: the internal aspects (plot, sound editing, costumes, etc.) and external significance (political statements, reception, etc.). The Black Panther passed both internal and external tests to be one of the best Marvel movies in existence.
To start, The Black Panther must have had a large budget because the graphics used to display the technology of Wakanda, the fictional African country where the movie takes place. Wakanda is painted as a beautiful and rich country that runs on the fictional metal vibranium. This metal must be magic because it can heal people, power their city, be sewn into uniforms and hide Wakanda from the rest of the world. The power of vibranium must have seeped into the editing of the movie because the graphics are detailed, colorful and imaginative. In addition to the overall clear and crisp visual experience, the sound editing is incredible. You can feel all the music in your bones and when one is cut during a fight scene, that slice rings in your ears. There are points in the movie where the music is enough to put you at the edge of your seat. I attribute this to Kendrick Lamar’s original songs and work with the sound editing team.
Beyond technicalities, the plot is exciting and pulls you into Wakanda. No one is innocent in this film, including the main protagonist. On the other hand, the main antagonist of the film is not someone you can hate. Personally, I think he wasn’t a villain at all, but rather a character some in the audience may root for throughout the film. Without giving out too much detail, the film is dynamic and personal, which I loved.
On the external level, the film makes important claims about society. The representation of a strong Black cast in any movie, let alone a superhero one, is long overdue. With so many strong characters, I think the impact this movie will have on communities could be large. In addition, there are a few political statements that are not only warranted but contribute to the messages of the movie. During the film, Wakanda struggles with keeping their technology a secret for protection, or sharing what they know to help oppressed communities around the world. The Black Panther is creating space for deeply complex characters that break stereotypes.
I’m not going to pretend that this movie was made for someone like me, as so many white superhero movies in the past seem to do. However, I feel as if this movie is so open and honest that it deserves so much recognition. All I am here to do is convince you to see the movie and understand that there is more to it than just a good movie.
It seems like 2018 is a little late for such a moving film such as this one, but I am glad we are finally taking these steps toward equal representation.