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Well-made ‘Black Panther’ poses important question

Jessicha Valentina
Jessicha Valentina

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Tue, February 13, 2018 | 06:35 pm

After being introduced in the 2016 Captain America: Civil War, Marvel’s superhero character Black Panther stand-alone feature film is set to hit cinemas on Feb. 14. 

The film opens with a brief history of a country called Wakanda, as told by N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown). A father of one, N’Jobu describes the African country as a land with a powerful natural resource, vibranium. 

The scene then flashes to the year 1992. Young T’Chaka (Atandwa Kani), the king of Wakanda, is seen to confront N’Jobu for stealing vibranium.

After the short encounter between T’Chaka and N’Jobu, the film moves to the present day, presenting T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the son of T’Chaka, on his trip back to Wakanda after his father is killed by a terrorist attack. As the next in line to the throne, T’Challa will become king of Wakanda, an isolated yet technologically advanced country.

During his trip, T’Challa requests his Wakandan spy/ex-girlfriend Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) to join him.

As T’Challa lands home, together with Nakia and the general of all women warriors Okoye (Danai Gurira), he needs to perform a ritual before being crowned as new king of Wakanda, which automatically makes him the Black Panther. Here, the audiences’ eyes are pampered by the colorful tribal outfits as well as the fighting scene on the cliff.

Read also: Chadwick Boseman: Why 'Black Panther' needed African accent

After proving he deserves to be a king, T’Challa flies on his first mission to stop Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) from selling vibranium in Busan, South Korea.

Accompanied by Nakia and Okoye, T’Challa enters a casino in James Bond-style. Unknowingly, T’Challa then encounters a bigger enemy Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).

Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther delivers dazzling action scenes. In the beginning, the film showcases African martial arts. Meanwhile, the casino scene is enhanced with advanced technology, adding a Bond-like feeling to the movie.

However, when T’Challa, Nakia and Okoye fight the bad guys in the casino, the audiences are transported back to the Marvel cinematic universe.

Although the action scenes are entertaining, Black Panther’s strength lies in the storyline. Without eliminating Marvel’s jokes, the story unfolds in an orderly way, as it not only showcases T’Challa as a man in a powerful suit, but also a human and a leader. The plot also poses a strong question, “If Wakanda is rich and powerful, why have they left the other African people to suffer?", showing a gray area of leadership.

This question leaves the audience wondering if it is right for a country’s leaders to “ignore” certain issues.

Similar to T’Challa, we do not have all the answers yet. But one thing for sure, this strong plot means Black Panther is not a typical Marvel superhero. (kes)

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