Sword & Shield

Black Panther

Chayla Cherry, News Editor

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As I scroll through my Twitter timeline, I see Black Panther flash across my screen at least five times a day. Normally, I’d be sick of the overexposure, but with Black Panther it feels much different. I don’t think I had ever been so excited for a superhero movie, and I knew it’d be near and dear to my heart before I even watched it.Black Panther follows the escapades of T’Challa of Wakanda (played by Chadwick Boseman), previously introduced in Captain America: Civil War. After the death of his father, T’Challa returns home to Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. However, it’s not all peaches and cream when he gets there.
When a powerful enemy, Killmonger(Michael B. Jordan), suddenly reappears,
T’Challa’s strength as king — and as Black Panther — gets tested when he’s drawn into a conflict that puts both Wakanda and the world at risk.
The story of T’Challa and the Black Panther resonates with many people, particularly people of color, for a variety of reasons. First, and perhaps the most obvious is representation. This is a major superhero movie where Black people are portrayed as royalty, in a nation unaffected by the horrors of colonialism.
King T’Challa, the main character has a diverse group backing him that also pave the way for
representation.The Dora Milaje is a group of fierce female warriors lead by the that defend Wakanda and are integral in assisting him in his
battle. His younger sister, Shuri, is only 16 years old and is widely renowned for being the smartest
character in the Marvel Universe, even outwitting Iron Man when it comes to tech. His mother, Ramonda, is a strong woman who always has a comforting word.
Nakia, played by The Lupita Nyong’o (who is everything I aspire to be), is a revolutionary woman who wants Wakanda to do more for the
outside world rather than remaining isolated. M’Baku, the leader of the mountain tribe seems scary upon first glance, but is just a big, loyal teddy bear with a soft spot for vegetarianism.

Another thing that sets Black Panther apart from other superhero movies, and action movies in general, is its complexity. Not everything is black and white (no pun intended.) Many who I talked to after watching the movie saw him as a relatable villain, only wanting to get closer to his roots and take back what was stolen from him and his people. While I don’t necessarily agree with his methods of doing so (worldwide domination and mass hysteria is never a good thing), I really do understand where he’s coming from in his anger and feelings of betrayal.
His characterization is an example of a not often explored, but very common trait within the African-American identity. Those of us who got here through the diaspora don’t truly have a home. We aren’t truly wanted in the country we call home, but we can’t retrace our roots because of
slavery. Africans do not consider us one of theirs, and we’re treated like second-class citizens in the nation we were born in. It would get anyone in their right mind in their feelings, and is the true root ofKillmonger’s anger.
While I could write anessay and a half on the political subtext within the movie, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. Black Panther is full of witty one-liners and comedic genius that will keep you quoting the movie weeks after you’ve seen it. The entire theater combusted with laughter quite a few times when I went to see the movie, and hearing the audience’s reactions was a big part of the experience. This is definitely a movie to see while it’s still in your local cinema.
All in all, Black Panther is a fun, thought-provoking, masterpiece of a movie. It’s probably my favorite Marvel movie, and is now among my favorite movies of all time. It’s a must see for those who enjoy superhero flicks, and even if you don’t I think it just might surprise you.
Wakanda forever!

Graphic Art by Ysa DeLauro.

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