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“Black Panther” Movie Makes History; Strides for Representation

“Black Panther,” the most recent installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, premiered on Feb. 16 with an opening weekend that brought in $235 million. Starring Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan, this superhero film has shattered box-office records, making it the highest grossing February opening of all time.

This is a major milestone for the superhero genre. “Black Panther” is the first African superhero to have his own movie on the big screen. This is a great accomplishment, and a wonderful way to celebrate Black History Month. Although this is a major feat, it is a shame that the world had to wait this long to see it. The only other solo black superhero in film was “Blade” in 1998. Many black children have never thought that people who looked like them could be superheroes.

T’Challa, the man behind the panther’s mask, was introduced as a character in “Captain America: Civil War,” when his father tragically died in an attack at the United Nations. “Black Panther” continues the storyline with T’Challa taking his father’s place as king of the fictional African country of Wakanda.

Wakanda is a futuristic society that hides under the illusion of being a third-world country, though it actually has the most advanced technology in the world. The country also has an abundance of a metal called vibranium that allows them to create a wide range of futuristic tools. The Black Panther receives his powers from a heart-shaped herb native to the country, which gives him enhanced strength, acute senses, heightened reflexes and advanced healing. He also has a bulletproof suit that was developed by his teenage sister, Shuri.

The movie’s conflict centers on T’Challa’s long lost cousin Erik Killmonger, who grew up in America instead of Wakanda. As he grew up, he became a trained assassin with dreams to finally visit Wakanda to fight for his right to the crown. Killmonger fights face to face with the Black Panther and threatens Wakanda’s secrecy from the world.

“Black Panther” is a beautifully made film. The $200 million budget was utilized well with breathtaking scenery and costumes and high digital filming quality. Instead of centering the film in America, it stays mostly in the African setting and includes various cultural elements such as crowning rituals and dances. I appreciate that the film has a mainly black cast, with strong and intelligent female leads such as Shuri and Nakia, T’Challa’s love interest.

I would see “Black Panther” many more times. The movie has caused a phenomenon, with excitement all over social media and especially in the black community. “Black Panther” is an introduction to a character that I can’t wait to see more of in the Marvel franchise.

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