Clawing its Way to the Top


A promotional poster for Marvel’s Black Panther with Chadwick Boseman posing as title character T’Challa.

Melanie Schlesser, Staff writer

Marvel’s Black Panther hit theaters like a vibranium spear—powerful and destructive. The latest installment of Marvel’s cinematic saga took viewers to the fictional country of Wakanda, situated in Africa. And similar to how Wakanda contains tons of vibranium, expect this review to contain a ton of spoilers.

This prosperous, and highly advanced, civilization recently suffered the death of their beloved King T’Chaka (John Kani). T’Chaka died in Captain America: Civil War at the hands of a bomb during a United Nations conference. T’Chaka’s son T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) takes the throne as his father’s successor. During the first act, T’Challa decides that as Wakanda’s new King he was going to capture Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), a vibranium dealer that has ravaged Wakanda for years. Klaue gets captured by Agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) of the CIA and is rescued by the movie’s true villain Erik Killmonger (lovely name, right?).

Killmonger (Michael B Jordan) has been hailed as one of Marvel’s best on-screen villains. That is quite the accomplishment considering Marvel movies tend to be highly criticized for lackluster villains with blurry motivation. Killmonger comes in as T’Challa’s cousin and seeks the throne of Wakanda. While Killmonger’s origin isn’t all that surprising, his true motives behind the takeover are a little unexpected. Killmonger’s motive stems from a common theme throughout the film: empowerment.
An early scene from the movie introduces viewers to T’Chaka’s younger brother M’Jobu and his vision to end Wakandan isolation. This plan includes sending Wakanda’s vibranium weapons to African communities around the world in order for them to rise up and fight back. This theme concerning empowerment is an usual subject for a superhero movie to tackle, but Black Panther does it wonderfully. Empowerment is an important topic these days and to see a superhero movie attempt such a powerful issue is refreshing and adds a sense of reality to the movie. It also worked as a believable motive for the movie’s villain and in turn brought about questions of morality: if Killmonger wanted to help people but T’Challa refused, who was really the villain?

This movie is deserving of all of its praise and the billions of dollars its generated at the box office. Black Panther is one of Marvel’s most well reviewed movies to date and has generated one of the highest box office revenues for Marvel Studios. Marvel’s latest was so well received and loved that it pretty much obliterated it’s competition.

The movie not only impacted movie economics but had repercussions throughout the world. Many of Black Panther’s stars had bought tickets for underprivileged children and for members of their home countries in Africa.

While T’Challa had a hit of his own, expect to see him in Avengers: Infinity War as he goes up against Thanos with the Avengers on April 27, 2018.