Black Panther, the heavily nurtured product of multi-million Marvel productions, delivers a powerful screenplay, striding confidently in the footsteps of it's predecessors including the X-Men franchise and the Dark Knight trilogy to a lesser degree. What sets Black Panther apart from these, however, is it's willingness to delve into moral, social and political questions that frequently tend to be left on the sidelines in action-packed thrillers.
The subtle yet persistent tune that undercuts Black Panther, seems to be the idea that "Blackness", and "Africanness", and everything that these terms encapsulate, are significantly understated gems that have yet to reveal their splendour. It goes without saying that this film celebrates Black identity - too often marginalised or downplayed in mainstream Hollywood.
The film's protagonist, indeed, is T'Challa, Chadwick Boseman, who, after winning a terrifying waterfall duel with a competitor, claims his rightful place as king of Wakanda, Black Panther, the people's saviour. Possessing the strength of hundreds of men, after drinking the nectar of a mystical flower, an equipped with armour made out of bullet-proof titanium, he is pretty much invincible.
The uplifting undertones include the fact that, secretly, Wakanda, Africa is no "third-world country - textiles, shepherds, cool outfits.". Rather, it is a nation built on a foundation of a meteorite containing vibranium—the strongest metal in the world that hit Africa thousands of years ago. Having technologically progressed far beyond the limits of every other continent, Wakanda's coat of trees and foliage is deceiving to onlookers.
New to the throne, T'Challa is surrounded by an army of strong figures of support: his younger sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), a gifted tech wiz; his noble mother, Ramonda (Angela Bassett); the defiant leader of a mischievous clan, M'Baku (Winston Duke); high priest of Wakanda, Zuri (Forest Whitaker); chief general and leader of the Dora Milaje, the female noble honor guard, Okoye (Danai Gurira); and his beautiful love interest, Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), a secret agent for the Milaje.
Nakia has a vision.
Having witnessed explicit cases of poverty in surrounding countries, she desires to subvert Wakanda's policy of isolating it's gifts from the rest of the world. Indeed, the nation’s wealth and intelligence could have a remarkable impact on the world, informing T’Challa that "Wakanda is strong enough to help others and protect itself.” It seems like this is a vision that Coogler also shares, foreseeing Africa as a nation that serves as an emblem of hope - providing foreign aid, taking in refugees and relinquishing disease - rather than as one to be pitied.
As is blatantly obvious, Black Panther draws together one of the greatest black cast assembly that Hollywood has ever seen: standouts including Jordan who has priorly starred in three of Coogler's films, and Hollywood's darling, Lupita Nyong'o.
Also clear, is the way in which a large quantity of the film's major characters are female. Is Coogler paying homage to women everywhere by having T'Challa's dead father advise his son to "surround yourself with people you trust." and then have T'Challa to consequently surround himself with mainly women? We think so.