Last Thursday night, celebrities headed down to the Eventim Apollo for the European premier of the movie Black Panther. Stormzy, Michaela Cole and John Boyega were just some the faces who walked the red carpet in true Black Panther style, incorporating their traditional wear in their outfits.
“Of course this film is for everyone, but it is unapologetically black“. These were the words of presenter Clara Amfo, right before we were introduced to the cast of the movie, and after watching the film I couldn’t agree with her more. With an amazing roster of black actors including Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya and Letitia Wright, this film was sure to be a hit.
Based in the afro-futuristic land of Wakanda, director Ryan Coogler tackles the issues of identity, racial oppression and even colonisation – all while delivering the first black Marvel hero to our cinema screens. Wakanda does not adhere to this unfavourable perception of African countries being poverty-stricken and less developed, and is surrounded by futuristic sky scrapers and monorails, all powered by advanced technology that the rest of the world is yet to get their hands on.
After his father’s assassination, the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) – also referred to as King T’Challa – inherits the throne of Wakanda, and the once ill-prepared son of a king now simultaneously has inherited the role of the Black Panther. Chadwick Boseman did an amazing job, but on many occasions Michael B Jordan’s performance as Erik Killmonger stole the show.
“The whole cinema was concurring during this scene; after all, as black people we are all too aware of the unethical way that many of these Museums got their hands on historic African artefacts.”
We are first introduced to Erik when he asks the women working in the museum in Britain ” …and how do you think your ancestors got it?”, referring to the national African treasures that are on display in many museums across Britain. The whole cinema was clapping and concurring during this scene; after all, as black people we are all too aware of the unethical way that many of these Museums got their hands on historic African artefacts.
Erik Killmonger and King T’Challa both want to preserve and protect their people, but in completely different ways. Whilst King T’Challa, similar to Martin Luther King Jr, is peaceful in his actions, Killmonger, residing more with Malcom X and Black Panther ideology, resorts to the more violent hostile takeover in hopes of liberating his people. He plans to seize the throne and use Wakanda technology to arm his sisters and brothers who are facing injustice around the world – especially in the US where he was raised. Director Ryan Coogler cleverly intertwined both Michael B Jordan and Chadwick Bosman’s characters with the attributes of two of the leading black figures of the civil right movement.
The women in this film are far from the typical ‘damsel in distress’ female characters that many superhero movies adhere to. The women of Wakanda are not ones to be played with. King T’Challa’s royal guards, also known as the ‘Dora Milaje’, are the strongest warriors in the land, and all-female! Actress Danai Gurira does an amazing job as the leader of the guards, protecting the king and Wakanda at all costs – even if that means going against her husband, played by Get Out’s breakout star, Daniel Kaluuya.
“This film is not short of strong female characters, and they all are an integral part of the community that play an important role in persevering the land of Wakanda.”
King T’Challa’s tech-savvy sister Shai, played by Guyanese born actress Letitia Wright, is absolutely hilarious throughout the film. She often speaks out of turn and refers to the one out of three token white male characters as a ‘coloniser’. Whilst the female guards’ power is in their physical strength, Shai’s power is in her superior tech knowledge, as she is brains behind many of Wakanda’s technology.
King T’Challa’s mother (Angela Basset) portrays a different type of regal strength as a newly widowed mother and Queen. Her strength is in her belief and willingness to support her son, and carry on her husband’s legacy. The cast of the film also includes the King’s ex Nakia, played by the gorgeous Lupita Nyong’o, who is always there to offer wise words of wisdom and encouragement to the King, who she is clearly still in love with. This film is not short of strong female characters, and what’s great is that they all are an integral part of the community that play an important role in persevering the land of Wakanda.
It has been argued that it took Marvel way to long to bring the Black Panther to the cinema screens – after all, the character made his first comic appearance in the 60’s. However, the film makes the wait worthwhile. Black Panther creates an idealistic African utopia, whilst touching on real life topics of global racial oppression and colonisation that occur in today’s society.
Black Panther is out in cinemas on 13th February 2018!