“Black Panther”: representation matters

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By Ashley Bolek, Reporter
Photo courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes

I haven’t always been a superhero fan. My first superhero movie was the Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” in 2002, and I instantly fell in love with the genre. After the movie, I wanted everyone to have that experience watching a superhero movie. After seeing “Black Panther,” I think it definitely can be that movie for some little boys and girls who had never seen a person of color in a superhero role.

“Black Panther” is the story of Prince T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, becoming king  of Wakanda after his father’s passing. The story picks up a couple months after the end of “Captain America: Civil War.” T’Challa is crowned king until outsider Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, challenges him for the throne.

I am personally very happy that the Marvel Cinematic Universe saved Michael B. Jordan. He is an incredible actor and was wasted in “Fantastic Four.” In this movie, Jordan really shines. For me, he is the best villain that Marvel has seen in the past couple of years. What I think makes a villain so great is when you can understand their motivations. You know they are going about it in the wrong way, but you understand why.

I feel bad for Boseman because he seemed to get upstaged by all the new characters that were being introduced–which was alright because he upstaged everyone when he was introduced in “Civil War.”  My favorite character was his sister, Shuri, played by Letitia Wright. Between her amazing technology and her “What are those?!” joke, she absolutely shone in this movie. She created outstanding technology that stole the show. She even created communicators, which are usually thrown to the side in superhero movies. In this movie, we actually see how they can talk to each other and they are visibly shown in every scene they are used!

Including Shuri, all of the woman were the stars of the movie. They were shown as the guards of the king or out on super secret missions. The guards were not also just stone cold, but they actually made jokes and did anything needed for the Black Panther. With “Wonder Woman” having being released in the past year, I am loving the representation of people of color and women in superhero movies!

This brings me to my last point. People say that the only reason people are liking this movie is because it’s a Marvel movie, but I do not think that is so. It is a fantastic movie that doesn’t always seem like a typical superhero movie. There were subtle connections to the larger MCU, but overall, it could be a great standalone movie from the universe. It is also doing well because it is finally representation of people of color without being racist or stereotypical. They are treated as humans and not as side characters to a white superhero.

This movie has received a 97on Rotten Tomatoes and I have to agree. It was a powerful movie with powerful characters. It was overall a fantastic movie. This movie is probably the most important movie to have come out for a long time. At Celebration Cinema, where I work, the opening of “Black Panther” beat out “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and the day after Christmas, which are the two biggest days of the year for movie theaters. Representation matters, and that is why this movie matters.

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