Marvel opens new chapter with Black Panther

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Fast paced and action packed, the latest installment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe certainly didn’t disappoint.

According to the Disney’s official plot summary, the movie showed what happened to T’Challa after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, when T’Challa returned home to his kingdom.

The fictional kingdom of Wakanda was described in the movie as an “isolated but technologically advanced African nation.” For all practical purposes, Wakanda was a hermit kingdom, showing itself to the world as a backward, third world country populated by primitive tribes living in small farms surrounded by wild jungles and grasslands.

The movie relied heavily on that first world stereotype view to keep up the pretense of a backward African country. Yet behind that poor and humble façade was a vibrant nation populated by a people with an intense passion for life, tradition and their place in history.

The movie’s main characters had to struggle with these three things—passion for life, tradition, and history.

The movie’s antagonists were not outright evil. In fact, the Black Panther and his main foe essentially came to the same realization. Their only real dispute would be on how to reach their common goal, mainly to introduce Wakanda and share its technological wealth to the outside world.

Black Panther can also be likened to a morality play. Loyalty and honor were two central themes used throughout the movie. At first, these two worked together seamlessly. As the movie’s story unfolded, loyalty would come in conflict with honor.

This set up reminded me of the classic military triad of duty, honor and country. “Duty well performed. Honor untarnished. Country above self.” But when one’s loyalty comes into conflict with one’s honor, how can one’s duty be performed? Should it be duty to family? Tradition? Country or Kingdom?

Which should prevail? That, for me, was the central conflict of the movie and this allowed Disney and Marvel to commence traveling in a new direction.

This trend started with the movie Dr. Strange and was followed up in the movie Thor: Ragnarok. From the previous movies where the villain was fully motivated with greed or selfishness, the MCU movies were starting to show villains whose motivations were actually similar to the heroes.

And that opens up more opportunities for story telling with a twist.

According to the website Rotten Tomatoes, Black Panther scored a critic rating of 98% with 162 good reviews and only 4 critics thumbing it down. Another website, IMDB or the Internet Movie Database, gave the movie a hefty 7.2 stars out of 10. Those are definitely not bad numbers.

As for the main cast, I have to bring out my Lord of the Rings card. If you look closely, there were two members of the main cast that appeared in Tolkien themed movies. These were Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman. And it was obvious they had fun with their roles.

Though I enjoyed Black Panther, part of me can’t help that Martin Freeman’s role could have been played by Clark Gregg. Freeman’s role as CIA agent Everett Ross essentially fulfilled the same function as Gregg’s SHIELD agent Philip Coulson.

Black Panther, which was produced by Marvel Studios, was ably directed by Ryan Coogler using a screenplay by him and Joe Robert Cole.

The movie’s cast included Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa/Black Panther), Michael B. Jordan (Erik Kilmonger), Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia), Danai Gurira (Okoye), Daniel Kaluya (W’Kabi), Angela Basset (Ramonda) Forest Whitaker (Zuri), Freeman and Serkis. G



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