Jameson Filston, Campus Carrier Arts & Living Editor
“Black Panther” opened in theaters on February 16 and it had a lot to say.
The movie was a big step forward for diversity in Hollywood. The cast is predominantly black, and many lead roles were female. Hollywood has been criticized for its white and male-dominated leads, so the effort was not lost on audiences.
The movie also had a black director, Ryan Coogler, and Marvel put their money where their mouth was. Coogler got the second biggest budget of all time for a black director: $200 million. That is second only to The Fate of the Furious, which had a budget of $250 million.
It was important that the studio make these gestures, not only to make progress for diversity in Hollywood, but to lend credibility to what “Black Panther” had to say.
In the movie, a man named Eric Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) is out for revenge on the nation of Wakanda in part because the nation refuses to fight for people of color who are oppressed. T’Chaka, or the “Black Panther” (Chadwick Boseman) opposes him at first but begins to realize Killmonger has a point.
The execution of the movie itself was very good. The message did not overshadow the plot, and both supported each other. The movie bordered on being preachy at times, but never went too far and maintained believable character motivations.
The budget was evident in the visuals of the production. The visuals of the fight scenes, along with any of the scenes, were stunning. I really enjoyed the depiction of futuristic Wakandan technology, and the fight scenes were engaging as well as visually pleasing.
The character interaction and worldbuilding were influenced by black culture in America today. Everything from pick-up basketball to Vine references were included, the most memorable of which was a “what are those” reference. You could see the effort that went into portraying characters and culture in a realistic and complete way. There were some plot holes and other minor flaws, but they didn’t take away from the strengths of the movie.
Movies that have a message about society have to be careful not to be overbearing with that message, and “Black Panther” avoided this by showing rather than telling.
What drives the plot of this movie is the tension between keeping the status quo and righting wrongs. The movie sets T’Chaka, a supporter of the former, against Killmonger, an extreme supporter of the latter. The way this movie makes an effective point is by showing the process of T’Chaka realizing that he is wrong and that he should stand in support of others. Through this process, the plight of modern African Americans is brought to light. The movie brings the characters and the audience to a conclusion that we need to stand by each other because we are connected.
The movie also strengthens its point by showing how the problem has changed since 1992 when the first scene takes place. When the location of that scene is revisited, it shows that progress has been made, but there is still more to be done.
I enjoyed this movie a lot and was very impressed by it. What impressed me the most is that the movie was able to make an appeal to more than a specific audience, reaching the diverse audience that Marvel movies have. Part of the reason it was able to do this is because the message was so universal. The message was one of connection and equality. T’Chaka says it best when he talks about how people need to find and build connections instead of separating themselves. This is a message that resonates with everyone.
“Black Panther” was able to find a balance and tell its message in every aspect of the movie from casting to budget to script. Because of this balance and because of its story, “Black Panther” is among the best Marvel movies to date.