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The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

Wakanda Forever



All Hail the King

MARVEL:“Black Panther” serves justice to cultural diversity and representation.

By Jessica Eusebio
February 22, 2018

Long live the king.

As fans anticipated the premiere of “Avengers: Infinity War” with its recent trailers, Marvel Studios debuted their first black superhero stand-alone film, “Black Panther,” on Feb. 16.

Based on the Marvel Comics character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the comic book film adaptation is directed by Ryan Coogler, who is known for his works on the highly-rated “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed.”

Revolving around African roots and serving cultural justice, “Black Panther” is the first superhero movie with a nearly all African-American ensemble cast.

The film stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, Forest Whitaker as Zuri, Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross and Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue.

“Black Panther” follows the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” in which Prince T’Challa, also known as the Black Panther, made his first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Prince T’Challa returns home to Wakanda, a fictional, technologically advanced African nation, after the death of his father to take the throne and the Black Panther mantle, the protector and legacy of Wakanda for many generations.

However, when a mysterious and foreign enemy named Erik Killmonger challenges T’Challa for the throne, the fate of the Wakandan nation and the entire world is put at risk.

Unlike the previous Marvel movies, including “Spiderman: Homecoming” and “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Black Panther” tells audiences an excellent plot that takes a more serious approach rather than consisting entirely of a comedic tone. The well-written dialogue and script captures the powerful emotions of each character, especially during the movie’s climax.

The movie stands out by displaying memorable characters and their engaging chemistries with each other.

Because T’Challa takes on the role as the King of Wakanda, his character has a larger responsibility than the other MCU heroes do. Boseman’s acting chops and mannerism perfectly reflect a rising king’s determination to rule a nation and its people. Audiences notice his character development as he learns to balance between being a man with moral intentions and a king with capable leadership.

Boseman and Nyong’o capture the chemistry between their lovestruck characters. Separated to fulfill their duties, T’Challa and Nakia are exes who clearly show interest in one another. Their intimate story offers a light-hearted take on this heroic tale.

Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, also appears to be a fan-favorite among audiences due to her energetic charm, intelligence and hilarious one-liners. Boseman and Wright are convincing as brother and sister in the film. The movie displays a strong bond between T’Challa and Shuri, who often teases her older brother as younger siblings do.

Erik Killmonger appears to be one of the optimal villains in the MCU since Loki’s arrival in the “Thor” franchise. Michael B. Jordan remarkably captures the magnetic essence of the misunderstood, politically driven antagonist, with motives, unlike the preceding Marvel villains. Audiences believe that the intense relationship between Killmonger and T’Challa manages to be on par with that of iconic MCU characters, Thor and Loki.

The movie’s action sequences are praised as intense and exciting by audiences. Although the close combat scenes are well-choreographed, the quick camera movements in some scenes make it difficult for viewers to follow along.

In most of the action sequences that include the Black Panther himself, the CGI effects often appear as bland and cartoonish; some audiences even think that they are unfinished. But when it comes to the scenery and backgrounds of the city of Wakanda, the stunning visuals amaze fans as it resembles the settings in the comic books.

Although a large African American cast is rarely seen in Hollywood, “Black Panther” broke the diversity barrier. The film inspires the minority audiences, particularly African-Americans, with an unprecedented take on a superhero with African roots.

Successfully embracing diversity and cultural representation, the movie explore T’Challa’s heritage through his nation’s traditions, outfits, makeup, accents and environments. These aspects of his accustomed roots are expressed to represent existing African culture and traditions. However, the film also takes a unique approach by incorporating advanced technology with African culture like in the comic books.

Another significant cultural aspect in the movie is the music. Despite the fact that the film consists of background songs with orchestral and instrumental music, it also includes an exclusive album produced by Rapper Kendrick Lamar. Expressing the significant aspect of pop culture in the black community, “Black Panther: The Album” consists of hip-hop songs by various artists including Lamar, Khalid, Jay Rock, 2 Chainz and many more.

“Black Panther” not only represents the black community, but it also partakes in breaking traditional gender roles and stereotypes. Although they serve the King, the female protagonists engage in active duties and remain essential to Wakandan society.

Okoye is the leader and greatest warrior of the Dora Milaje, a strong all-female army sworn to serve the throne of Wakanda.

Nakia is a Wakandan spy–and potential queen–who participates in foreign missions, helping and protecting those outside her country.

Shuri contributes her technological and intellectual skills to design weapons and advancements not only to the Black Panther’s suit, but also to the infrastructure of Wakanda.

Queen Ramonda, T’Challa’s mother, has a less active role than the aforementioned women, but she offers motherly guidance for her son who at times doubts himself.

By tackling social injustices, the story heavily alludes to the history of African American oppression. The controversial perspectives of T’Challa and Killmonger resembles the historical conflict between Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. But although T’Challa demands for isolationism, he leans towards the concept of peace while Killmonger pushes for justice and oppression.

The iconic Marvel character made his first comic book appearance in “Fantastic Four #52.”

“Black Panther” has a Certified Fresh Tomato Score of 97% in Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.7/10 on IMDb, the Internet Movie Database.

The Black Panther will return to the big screen for “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Jessica Eusebio is an entertainment writer for The Mirror. She joined during her junior year and is currently a junior now. This is her first year working for the publication.

Her articles are typically about movies and television shows. She enjoys watching a lot of movies, specifically Disney/Pixar and Marvel movies. She favors watching psychological based television shows. She also enjoys watching paint dry on her spare time.

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