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Black Panther

There has been a common acceptance between Hollywood executives that films with largely black casts don’t bring in money from overseas; given that half of a film’s revenue today comes from outside the US, studios aren’t inclined to dump big budgets on “black films.” However, looking at Hollywood history, there really has never been a chance for a “black film” to do well as there has never been one with a budget over $100 million. Executives have been getting their evidence from the performances of smaller mid-budget to indie films that will never make $500 million abroad no matter the actors’ skin color. Marvel Studios has now decided to take the gamble to break this trope by giving their newest film, Black Panther a $200 million budget.

Black Panther is the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however the film is able to stand largely by itself. The film centers on T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) who previously appeared as the superhero Black Panther in 2016’s Captain America: Winter Soldier; there he was busy avenging the murder of his father. In this film, T’Challa is placed on the throne and he must decide what to do with his country Wakanda. Wakanda is a fictional nation in Africa, that in this film poses as one of the poorest on the continent. However, Wakanda’s look to outsiders is all a façade; it is, in fact, one of the richest countries in the world. The reason for Wakanda’s mask is that it is home to the most valuable mineral in the world: (the fictional) vibranium.

The film does wander a bit in the first hour, as we are introduced into the wonderful world of Wakanda. The production design, visuals, and costumes are stunning, showing us a flourishing African country that was saved the ravages of colonialism. But while all this eye-candy and wonder entertains for the first 30 minutes, after a while you start to wonder where the core of the film is. We are thankfully hooked again when Michael B. Jordan shows up on screen as the villain Killmonger in the second half of the film.

Black Panther is a very political movie, but for reasons different than what you might expect. At the core of the plot is the dilemma of isolationism (which has kept Wakanda safe) versus globalization (to help nearby suffering peoples); Killmonger is for the latter and proves to have some very compelling arguments, making you seriously doubt which side you want to win in this film. But director Ryan Coogler is also able to infuse the film with an incredible fun and a fascinating mythology as well, so that by the time the film ends you’re left wanting for more of everything.

There will be many articles and essays and even books detailing the different social and political aspects that this film touches upon, so I won’t adive into them here. But from a cinematic perspective, Black Panther is one of the best Marvel films to date, it is able to stand on its own yet be part of the bigger cinematic universe; it gives us deeply rooted and dimensional characters, fun action sequence straight out of a James Bond film, and an inspiring story for kids and adults everywhere.



About Young Critic

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I've been writing on different version of this website since February of 2013. I originally founded the website in a film-buff phase in high school, but it has since continued through college and into my adult life. Young Critic may be getting older, but the love and passion for film is forever young. 

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