Black Panther is easily Marvel’s most thematically rich and substantive movies. It follows very much in the vein of the Captain America movies in terms of their tone and how it looks at political themes. It explores the ideas of what it means to have power, identity, and isolationism. Director Ryan Coogler brings in real issues like the African diaspora, through the story of its villain, Eric Killmonger and dealing with the idea of isolationism and what the duties of a country in a privileged position should do when faced with helping others beyond its borders. Where Captain America: Winter Soldier (Joe and Anthony Russo, 2014) looks at themes of security verses freedom and Captain America: Civil War deals with the limits that should be set on those who protect us, Black Panther looks at what it means to do the right thing when it comes to dealing with injustice, particularly in terms of racial injustice. The way it does this is through the world of Wakanda and the various views of the characters who inhabit it. Characters such as Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) who thinks that Wakanda should be giving relief to other countries, while the leaders of the tribes that make up Wakanda want T’Challa should focus on being a king and tending to his own people, rather than be a warrior and pursue Klaue. The dilemma for T’Challa, as well as being the main question of the film is, what is the best way to rules? How can T’Challa do what is necessary to be a good king and remain a good man?
While there are familiar elements in Black Panther, fighting a villain with a costume and powerset that perfectly matches the hero, and a big climax, the movie makes it all its own and finds twists and spins to make it it’s own. Its voice is all its own, which is something that Marvel has been improving with as well as being cohesive with the other films, especially last year. With unique directors telling different kinds of stories with the superhero genre like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (James Gunn, 2017) and Thor Ragnarok (Taika Waititi). Coogler brings his own story and style stunningly in Black Panther. It works as a stand alone film and shows us that there is still new types of characters, worlds, and conflicts when it comes to the superhero genre that can be explored.
Coogler, Ryan, director. Black Panther. Walt Disney, 2018.
Coogler, Ryan, director. Creed. MGM and Warner Brothers.
Gunn, James, director. Guardians of the Galaxy. Disney, 2017.
Jenkins, Patty, director. Wonder Woman. Warner Brothers, 2017.
Russo, Anthony and Joe Russo, directors. Captain America Winter Soldier. Walt Disney.
Russo, Anthony and Joe Russo, directors. Captain America Civil War. Walt Disney, 2016.
Waititi, Taika, director. Thor Ragnarok. Walt Disney, 2017.