African superhero Black Panther brings movie magic into reality with sold out theaters and record-breaking box office sales around the globe. The film has become one of the highest grossing modern day movies topping $700 million for the first two weekends. I traveled to three theaters to view the film over a week-long journey of sold out tickets. I finally saw the film with online tickets purchased hours in advance before leaving home.
Theater lines were wrapped around the corner with selfie taking fans from a variety of cultures. Some fans even wore African themed clothing to celebrate black pride and diversity in the film.
The costume and set design make the first 30 minutes of Black Panther very enjoyable. There’s green pastures, mountains and modern designed furniture that looks like a status symbol in a luxury magazine. The technology is state-of-the-art and looks years ahead of our time. Bright red costumes, rich blues and exquisite gold metal jewelry made the all-star cast look royal and light up on the screen.
The cast includes Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got to do with it), Lupita Nyong’o (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Forest Whitaker (Taken 3) and Michael B. Jordan (Fantastic Four).
Chadwick Boseman (Captain America: Civil War) stars as Black Panther, known as T’Challa. The story line has a steady start, establishing characters, explaining the backstory and showing off the beauty and majesty of a fictional African kingdom.
Black Panther, based on the Marvel Comic book series did not disappoint. There is action, suspense, plot twists and turns in the story line. The movie directed by Ryan Coogler takes you on a Star Wars style journey through the magical high-tech hidden African nation of Wakanda.
Being heir to the throne has its problems for T’Challa. Maintaining the kingdom and its enemies outside the safety of its borders becomes problematic forcing T’Challa to make tough choices and to fight.
Jordan gave an award deserving performance as the villain, Erik. His character is a mean killer with a chip on his shoulder and a black heart from a tough life. Erik, an outsider from America, is the character everyone loves to hate in Black Panther.
Bassett plays the beautiful African queen Ramonda. She is the matriarch of the Wakanda kingdom. Sterling K. Brown (This is Us) makes a cameo in Black Panther flashback scenes.
The cast is mostly black but has diversity with a few unexpected characters. Americans become both friends and enemies to the Wakanda kingdom. The film has a storyline friendly for viewers of all ages. There is a message of correcting mistakes and taking the moral high ground above tradition and pride.
There are a lot of special effects and CGI technology used due to the technology theme of the movie. The fight scenes pack a lot of punch. There’s a variety of weapons used from knives to guns and physical warrior-style fighting. The fight choreography keeps viewers interested. Boseman spent time learning martial arts in preparation for the film. It shows in Black Panther’s numerous fight scenes.
In the film you see a slight divide between native Africans and African Americans, a problem that reaches far beyond the fiction of Black Panther. Hundreds of years of slavery plagued communities of people stolen from Africa and taken to the United States until the late 1800’s. Africans that weren’t sold into slavery suffered from racism and poor treatment due to colonization by whites. Near the end of the film Erik pays homage to the bravery of those captured on slave ships.
Black Panther spends most of its two hours focused on a story line that includes a united prospering community that stood as a world technology leader.
The internet is filled with reviewers of Black Panther that say blacks can finally see themselves as queens and kings. While the movie is a pop culture phenomenon, the real history of African Kings and Queens lie in ancient writings, history books of pre-colonial Africa and the real royal families that exist today. Among African royals blacks can study in real life include King Fredrick Obateru Akinrutan of Nigeria, King Mswati III of Swaziland, and King Otumfuo Osei Tutu II of Ashanti, Ghana.
I definitely recommend watching Black Panther and seeing the action-packed movie set in the beautiful fictional land of Wakanda, but viewers shouldn’t forget there is still beauty, history and honor in real African royal families.