Title: Black Panther
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writers: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
Stars: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Forrest Whitaker, Martin Freeman, Winston Duke
Black Panther was opened with introduction about Wakanda, a country and nation established by five African tribes, led by the very first “Black Panther”, a warrior who got superhuman power from “heart-shaped herb”. The Wakandans got held of the strongest metal in the world, vibranium, and used it to develop advanced technology while isolating themselves from the world by posing as a Third World country.
In the present day, after King T’Chaka passed away, his son T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to Wakanda to assume the throne. At the ceremony, the Jabari Tribe’s leader M’Baku (Winston Duke) challenges T’Challa for the crown in ritual combat. T’Challa defeats M’Baku and convinces him to give up and take care of his tribe rather than die during the ritual. After T’Challa officially crowned as King of Wakanda, T’Challa’s friend, W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya), requested him to find and bring to Wakanda Klaue, a robber who managed to get into Wakanda years ago and stole some vibranium for trading. T’Challa, Okoye (the leader of the Dora Milaje regiment, played by Danai Gurira) and Nakia (T’Challa’s ex-lover, played by Lupita Nyong’o) eventually go to Busan, following information that Klaue will sell a stolen Wakandan artifact to his buyer there. To his surprise, T’Challa meets CIA agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) who apparently acts as the buyer for Klaue. A firefight takes place and Klaue is arrested under CIA watch, however he is rescued by his team, led by Erik Stevens (Michael B. Jordan), a former US black operation soldier. During the chaos, Ross is severely injured when protecting Nakia. Feeling responsible, T’Challa takes Ross back to Wakanda where their technology can save him.
While Ross is being healed, T’Challa interrogates Zuri (Forest Whitaker), a Wakandan elder and “heart-shaped herb” caretaker, about N’Jobu, his uncle. He saw Erik wearing a ring that only a Wakandan has and wondering if somehow he is related to N’Jobu. Zuri explains that in the past, N’Jobu planned to share Wakanda’s technology with people of African descent around the world to help them defeat the dictators. While T’Chaka arrested N’Jobu and about to take him back to Wakanda, N’Jobu attacked Zuri, forcing T’Chaka to kill him. T’Chaka ordered Zuri to lie that N’Jobu had disappeared and left behind N’Jobu’s American son, Erik, in order to maintain the lie. Erik, filled with hatred, plans to have his revenge by taking over King of Wakanda’s throne and continue N’Jobu’s vision. It’s now up to T’Challa to prevent other world wars happen with vibranium being distributed freely to many countries.
I like this movie. I think it gives a different vibe of Marvel’s superhero story. The background narrative of African nation and culture provides different touch, and I really enjoy it. However, I could not help myself to think a little bit further about it. I had an impression that the reaction from other audiences in the theatre was not as “hyped” as mine for some scenes that I found quite hilarious. I could be wrong of course, since I did not pay attention to my surrounding all the time, but it made me think. Do people really think and react differently about this movie because it tells us story about African people? Do people unconsciously compare it with other superhero movies which usually have white male or female protagonists? Or was it only me, who might be a racist without realizing it? In the end, this movie somehow becomes a soft reminder to me to revisit again my actions so far: have I been acting fair to everyone around me? Have I been judgmental to people without consciously aware about it? It is refreshing to know that a movie can bring such an impact to us and makes us think to be a better person moving forward.
Other than that “aha” moment, I found the story is a bit unclear for me, especially story about Erik. I find it difficult to believe that by only listening to some stories told by his father when he was a kid, Erik could know so much about Wakanda, i.e. its isolated location (I mean, they have invisible barrier around the country and he easily enters it without getting lost. Really?), its culture, its vibranium treasure and so much more. I mean, he was a teenager when N’Jobu was murdered, and prior to that, N’Jobu was busy with his espionage and rebellion works. I am not sure he had enough time to explain everything about Wakanda in details to Erik, or at least it was not shown sufficiently in the movie. This fact makes the movie’s climax becoming anti-climax since the emotion is not fully captured there. At least I can’t feel it (sorry Erik!).
Overall, I am quite satisfied with this movie. I am giving 4 out of 5 stars for my rating. Another Marvel’s superhero movie which is enjoyable to watch.