This welcome addition to MCU is exciting and culturally relevant.
Director: Ryan Coogler (Creed)
Screenplay: Coogler, J Robert Cole (Amber Lake)
Cast: Chadwick Boseman (Get On Up), Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station
Runtime: 2 hr 13 min
by John DeSando
“What happens now determines what happens to the rest of the world.” T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman)
For the man who would be the rightful King of Wakanda (Boseman), there is much brute force necessary to take and keep the throne. So it goes with superhero film Black Panther, which to its credit like the king keeps it eye on the thematic ball, the persistent notion that remaining an isolated but super-modern nation is no longer good policy.
This fictional land, somewhere west of Lake Victoria and in the area of Uganda, Rwanda, and northern Tanzania, is not like stereotypical third world countries. It is rich with the most powerful element in the world, vibranium, and the country wishes to remain with that wealth and its super tech to the exclusion of the rest of the world.
But the king’s emerging vision for sharing its wealth is not shared by most of Wakanda, and surely not its enemies, who would like to rule the world with vibranium especially. Such is what makes this film a compelling allegory: It subverts the usual notion of a poor nation into a powerful one, like the USA, that does not want to endanger itself or share its wealth.
In the formula so worn out by Stan Lee for Marvel, the solutions to the global challenges are always solved by hand-to-hand combat, regardless of the presence of daunting technology. It’s just my bias against dumbing down solutions with simple force when diplomacy and cyber war are options.
To its credit, Black Panther continually addresses the global issues, most appropriately the plundering of third world resources like coltan for cell phones, gold, rubber, diamonds, and humans. And racism and colonialism. Mostly it focuses on isolationism, a problem solved for the US’s isolation in WWII by Japan’s bombing Pearl Harbor.
So the world can be a better place, and the Black Panther can now proudly join in good form the rest of the MCU that contains such super stars as Thor and Iron Man. In addition to heroics are some solid laughs:
“You’re telling me that the king of a Third World country runs around in a bulletproof cat suit?” Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman)
So goes an entertaining addition to the equally impressive Wonder Woman last year. As for strong women, Black Panther is replete with them and a witty one, too. Hooray.
Welcome Afrofuturism. I just wish they’d forego the fisticuffs.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com