Black Panther: Welcome to Wakanda

Black Panther

“Black Panther: We can still heal you.
Killmonger: Why, so you can lock me up? Nah. Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, ’cause they knew death was better than bondage.” – Black Panther (2018)

Black Panther takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War. T’Challa returns to the technology reclusive Wakanda so he can serve as the nation’s new King —  after the death of his father, King T’Chaka,  When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T’Challa’s reign as king, and as Black Panther, gets tested when he’s drawn into a conflict that puts not only the fate of Wakanda at risk, but the entire world. While faced with treachery and danger, T’Challa must gain the support of his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people.

This movie was fantastic in a number of ways. Prior to sharing why I thought it was fantastic, I am going to share what I disliked about the movie. First off, there was not much about the movie that I did not enjoy. In fact, Black Panther quickly became one of my all time favorite Marvel movies. As a Marvel fan, something that I disliked about the movie were the number of plot holes and things that did not make sense throughout the film. A few things that did not make sense that stuck out to me were Black Panther leaving Wakanda tech in the field, T’Challa not only survives a great fall, but snow is what keeps him alive, and everyone speaks English in Wakanda. Each of these will be explained in the following paragraphs in the order they were listed.

Thanks to T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri Wakanda is, hands down, the most technologically advanced nation in the world. She made a variety of high-tech tools that have aided the citizens of Wakanda and helped them lead better lives. Despite the fact that the high tech tools could do some good in other countries around the world, all of the Wakadan Kings to date have chosen to isolate themselves from other countries. Following suit, King T’Challa is concerned about the possibilities of what could happen if Wakadan technology were to be used outside the nation. After successfully stopping the Nigerian militia towards the beginning of the film, T’Challa leaves Wakandan technology out in the open for anyone to find and study.

Don’t get me wrong — I was ecstatic to see that the Black Panther had survived his initial battle for King against the Killmonger, but something that I questioned was how he managed to survive the fall off the cliff in the river after already bleeding out. Yes, in superhero movies it is understand, and expected, that they are able to do things that normal people cannot. However, during the ritual combat, he was stripped of the Black Panther powers — leaving him just like everyone else — as a normal human. After arriving to Wakanda, Killmonger asserts his blood right and challenge T’Challa for the right to reign as King. Because it is a ritual combat,  T’Challa is stripped of his Black Panther powers by drinking some sort of potion. At the end of the battle, T’Challa was essentially defeated due to being badly injured. Furthermore, Killmonger throws T’Challa off of a massive cliff and into the water that was hundreds of feet below them. Yet, despite the injures and the great fall, T’Challa survives and is pulled out of the water by a fisherman from a neighboring tribe. After being saved by the fisherman from a neighboring tribe, T’Challa is kept in snow. This somehow managed to keep him alive. Yes, it is true that cooling down the body restricts blood flow, but the neighboring tribe did not use Wakanda tech. This means that there is no healing properties in the snow — it is just regular water.

The last thing noted that did not make sense to me was that everyone speaks English in Wakanda. This was interesting because this country was never colonized. Because English is a colonial language, it would have had to been introduced by outside explorers. Wakanda was never claimed by Europeans like other African countries. During the most important moments of the movie, the ritual combats, everyone was shown speaking English. However, there are a few moments where the characters are speaking in their native tongue — but they mostly speak English. I acknowledge that a movie made in the US is going to be recorded in English. However, the director could have attempt to develop a way to make audiences members think that people of Wakanda were speaking a different language as they went about their day-to-day lives.

Now, after describing what did not make sense to me in the movie, next will be what I found to be absolutely amazing in it. First, the movie paved the way for other superheroes of color. Black Panther broke the ice when it comes to the fact that positive representation matters. The film positively portrayed African Americans and has received all of the due credit for it. After being part of a group called Diversity Initiative Leaders on my college campus for two years, I have become more conscientious of positive representation, privilege, and stereotypes. Seeing this movie definitely made me check my privilege because, as a white individual, I cannot relate to the struggles that the main antagonist, the Killmonger, had gone through growing up. Seeing him portrayed as an African American that came from a broken home and troubled childhood made him a villain that was easy to sympathize with. However, I cannot relate to his struggles. This made me strive to advocate for those who are struggling like he was. I also acknowledge that it is easier for me to say that I am striving for to do that rather than actually doing it. My youngest brother is African American, and I have begun working with him and my father to help advocate for him. It is a small step in the direction of advocating for others.

A second thing I really enjoyed about the movie was the representation of women in the STEM field. Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister, designs and builds all of the technology he uses as Black Panther. Her being a brilliant and talented scientist not only positively represents women in the STEM field, but also people of color. Also, the bond between Shuri and T’Challa was a wonderful portrayal of brother-sister dynamic. They supported each other and cheered each other on. Furthermore, Shuri’s ability to mock and make fun of her brother is something I admire. She isn’t afraid to trick him and point fun at him. He takes it well and it emphasizes the strong bond they have. My favorite moment where Shuri was poking fun at T’Challa was when she saw whatever shoes he was wearing (I think they were sandals) and she yelled, “WHAT ARE THOSE?!”. It was a good comedic moment and a funny reference to pop culture vines.

To keep this post from getting too long-winded, I will share one last thing that I enjoyed about the film. The last thing I enjoyed was the strong bond that was briefly shown between the Killmonger and his late father. It was short (I wish they would have shown more of it) and it showed the love his father had for him. The brief scene showcased his father telling him stories of Wakanda. It tied back into the movie when Killmonger was dying. He said, “Can you believe that? A kid from Oakland walking around, believing in fairy tales”. This quotation stuck with me because I interpreted it as seeing Wakanda was a way of him holding onto his father.

Overall, Black Panther is an exceptional Marvel movie. Marvel has definitely outdone themselves with this one. Despite the three things that didn’t make sense to me, it is a fantastic movie and is one of my all time favorite Marvel movies to date. I am interested to see where the director takes the story of Black Panther going forward.


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