Arts & Entertainment

‘Black Panther’ Explores Culture and Tradition in One of Marvel’s Finest Films to Date

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The new and highly anticipated film “Black Panther” has outperformed expectations and without a doubt, made a mark in cinematic history. The PHOENIX attended a pre-screening of the film and with its official release in just a couple days, viewers will be greeted by stunning visuals, a moving storyline and powerful representation of culture.

“Black Panther” tells the story of a prince (Chadwick Boseman) who returns to his home, the fictional Wakanda, after his father’s death to take over the throne as king. With a sudden appearance of a new enemy, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), the Black Panther is faced with trial and tribulations to keep his people and nation safe.

“Black Panther” is Marvel Studios’ first ever black superhero movie. With Afro-futurism as the film’s prominent style, Marvel captured the traditional aspects of African culture, in addition to an empowering cast, including Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”), Daniel Kaluuya (“Get Out”) and Andy Serkis (“War for the Planet of the Apes”) in addition to Boseman and Jordan.

From the costumes to the characters, it was breathtaking to see the fictional world of Wakanda come to life. The characters carried themselves with a sense of charisma and genuity that’s hard to find in some film casts.

Even though a central aspect of most superhero movies is non-stop action, there were several humorous moments in “Black Panther” — in true Marvel spirit. Most of these moments were between the Black Panther and his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright). Their relationship throughout the film made for a natural on screen relationship, which was relatable and heart-warming.

Although the protagonist of the movie was a male, it was refreshing and moving to see a strong female cast playing major roles. In many movies, a female sidekick is nonexistent, as women often play the stereotypical role as the pretty love interest for the male lead. Having many of the movie’s roles filled by women, however, displayed a sense of hopefulness and a fierce, powerful side of femininity. Even though the Black Panther was the “king of the jungle,” the queens, Nakia (Nyong’o), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Shuri (Wright), stepped up with perseverance. From the beginning of the movie, the women were a strong force to be reckoned with. Director Ryan Coogler (“Fruitvale Station,” “Creed”) made the right decision in portraying the reality of what women can actually do, such as take pride in who they are and stand up for what they believe in.

The spotlight wasn’t only on Boseman’s Black Panther, but also on Jordan’s villain, Killmonger. Jordan was able to uphold a stern yet vulnerable character throughout the film.

Marvel has created a movie that has the ability to appeal to all audiences. “Black Panther” breaks boundaries, not only as a film, but also as a symbolic character. By portraying a culture that’s rooted in tradition and values, “Black Panther” captures ferocity and comfort at the same time.

“Black Panther” opens in theaters nationwide Feb. 16.

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