Fans have been waiting for Marvel’s Black Panther movie since Marvel announced it some years ago. Fast-forward to today, and it’s currently the most buzzed-about film of 2018, setting and breaking records right from its debut at the box office. Here are five reasons why you should not skip this superhero blockbuster.
The plot of the latest Marvel superhero movie goes: After the death of his father, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king – and as Black Panther – gets tested when he’s drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk.
Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people.
The movie, just released, has been building up since the cast was announced, many months ago. And it has grown to become a cultural behemoth, even before spending a lot of time on the charts. There are numerous reasons why any self-respecting cinephile should experience the Black Panther film, but here are five of ours.
1. Nods to Nigeria
As soon as the trailers were done, and the movie began, there was a scene which took place in Sambisa Forest, in north-eastern Nigeria, once the stronghold of deadly terrorist group Boko Haram, and where they infamously held the Chibok girls hostage for almost four years.
Even though in the movie, Sambisa was a dense, rainforest-y type, while the actual one has sparse vegetation.
Also, the insurgents who held some girls hostage in the sequence, spoke English, a no-no being that their name Boko Haram is loosely translated to mean ‘Western education is sin’.
While inclusion is good, accuracy is key. But other references to Nigeria, including the people Edo, some Hausa phrases, and even some distinctively Nigerian expressions, soon made up for the earlier missteps.
The ages-old Northern Nigerian form of writing called Ajami also heavily influences what is shown to be written Wakandan, and the ‘Northern Knot’ symbol of Arewa shows up on a kaftan worn by King T’Challa.
2. Unique Soundtrack
Black Panther boasts an excellent soundtrack, loaded with gems from Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, SZA, and more.
There’s also a very striking score by Ludwig Göransson, adding to the musical goodness, oftentimes a perfect match with whatever scene is unfolding.
But it also got me thinking, about how it would’ve been an excellent opportunity to include Nigerian, and other African artistes whose work are inarguably at their best and most vibrant right now.
Even U.S hitmaker Drake has keyed into that, featuring one of the biggest singers in Nigeria today, Wizkid, on some of his work.
However, the Black Panther soundtrack is still one I’ll be listening to for a while.
Some of what the massively positive reception, globally, means for the Black Panther, is that a message will be sent, loud and clear, that stories that resonate with Africans of all kinds are possible, even within the superhero genre.
Imagine how many creators will be inspired by that. Imagine the impact on young people, suddenly seeing versions of themselves in this beautifully realised fantastic world.
The possibilities, while endless, are now actually possible, thanks to director Ryan Coogler’s well-realised film.
4. Scene-stealing supporting cast
From T’Challa’s sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), to ape-worshipping warrior M’Baku (Winston Duke), Black Panther is full of scene-stealing characters played by talented actors.
Even bad guy Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) is refreshingly deep and complex.
General Okoye, the fiercest warrior in Wakanda, played by Danai Gurira, is also noteworthy, as is Lupita N’Yongo’s character Nakia. Angela Basset is also brilliant as the Queen Mother.
Come to think of it, the entire cast did a swell job.
While the director did great, it’s hard to fail with such a top-notch cast.
5. Actually funny humour
The cast’s chemistry and well-written script resulted in some truly organic jokes, whether it’s the interactions between T’Challa and sister Shuri, or M’Baku scaring off CIA agent Everett Ross, the comedic pairings are almost always pure gold.
There’s also a good balance of laughs and drama, resulting in a movie that’s playful without being too irreverent.
6. Cool by design
The look of Black Panther is striking, by many measures. With director Coogler reportedly wanting Wakanda to feel like a country, rather than just one city by featuring multiple, distinct tribes, it is very clear that that the design process received special care.
The clothes and architecture hint at influences of Sub-Saharan Africa, coming across as a love letter to Africa. Some of the designs, by Zaha Hadid, are simply exquisite.
The futuristic elements of the film are also consistent with projections of what real world technology may be like in 25 or 30 years, hats-off to the designers.
A reported 700 costumes were created for the film, by an army of illustrators, designers, fabric dyers, jewellery-makers and more.
The best part of all this? It paid off, as Black Panther is the most original-looking movie in a while.
Director Coogler’s film renders the Marvel template with a bold, auteurist twist, which results in a truly African-looking extravaganza that entertains as much as it provokes thought.
Black Panther is now showing in cinemas.
Credit: Daily Trust