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Black Panther Review: KIllmonger’s Uprising Steals the Show

Maya Hogan, Staff Writer

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Black Panther barely feels like a Marvel film, or even a superhero film . It offers a bold, fresh take on the superhero origin story, which is a narrative that’s been growing stale for years. I most definitely recommend this movie to anyone seeking a revolutionary, action packed, moving film. Chadwick Boseman plays King T’Challa, of Wakanda, a fictional African nation hiding under the deception that they are a poor third world country whilst in reality they house secret sci-fi technology that allows them to stay hidden and thriving.

The film was produced very well in terms of not only the story, but also the special effects that leave the audience in awe of the film’s creativity and the soundtrack released in sync to the movie. This is, as advertised, an album and not just a movie soundtrack. As curator, Kendrick Lamar worked closely with featured artists such as The Weekend, Travis Scott, SZA, 2 Chainz, and Future, to create a cohesive whole: something carefully and passionately crafted with the sole purpose of bringing out the unique spirit and ingenuity that each contributor poured into the music. The album opens up with the composed noise of African style drums and smooth strings to give listeners the feeling of a spirited tribal romp.

Kendrick serves as a voice for the characters of the Black Panther; he creates his music from the perspective of T’Challa, the Citizens of Wakanda, and even Killmonger. In the song “King’s Dead,” Killmonger’s fury is expressed as Kendrick puts himself in the protagonist’s shoes to display what was going through his mind when it was time for him to take charge. There are songs for every climactic or important part of the film: when the king was killed, the stealing of the Vibranium axe, the challenging scene of the new king, and the moment when the Black Panther, once a prince, becomes responsible for Wakanda as a king.

The young new king, T’Challa,  must step up and embrace the obligation of his birthright after the assassination of his father. Little does he know that his long lost cousin, Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, was on his way to take back the throne and his African Heritage that was ripped away from him as a child.

Killmonger might be the greatest Marvel super villain ever conceived. From the minute he is displayed on screen, the character’s anger is justified as his charisma shines, and the crowd gets a jolt out of his gangster-like behavior. Killmonger effortlessly steals every scene in which he appears, and this highlights how fundamentally boring the royal prince/king, T’Challa actually is. When it comes to creative visuals, engaging action and likable characters, Black Panther stands confidently next to the best fare offered up by the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

While the “villain’s” methods and goals may be utterly violent, his motives are completely understandable and in some ways reasonable after watching the movie. In the beginning of the feature Erik Killmonger leads a gang of criminals to an artifact museum to complete a heist which would obtain a chunk of Wakanda’s secret resource, Vibranium, as well as a functionally useless African mask from a case near the axe.

This symbolic action was an early hint to the audience that the story would ultimately revolve around Killmonger reclaiming his true African identity. What the audience is really watching isn’t just a clash between two members of the Wakanda royal family; it’s a clash between a man whose ethics are inseparable from the African culture he grew up in, and a man who had his African culture ripped away so he was forced to come up in a completely different manner.

T’Challa is devoted to preserving the beauty and technology of Wakanda, while Erik who spent his former years raising himself in the shadows of the United States’ history of slavery, oppression, riots, and murders wants to bring Wakanda’s resources to help all the African Americans that face poor treatment and even the odds in terms of self defense. In all honestly, who could possibly blame Killmonger for wanting to use Wakanda’s indescribable technological advances to better the lives of black people who grew up like him, and spent their entire lives battling the world’s still racist society?

In my eyes, it is not even fair to call the man we know as Erik Killmonger a villain. Any talented screenwriter wouldn’t need to put in much effort at all in order to rewrite Black Panther with Erik as the hero: an exiled prince finally returns to his homeland, unseating the king to spark a long-overdue technological revolution that benefits black people across the globe.

 

Black Panther presents itself  as the most profound movie of the year especially when it comes to being an effective, eye-opening experience to the prejudice African Americans still endure and how being forced to deal with it changes them. We, as an audience, are meant to feel a spark of inspiration by the appearance of T’Challa, a black man arrayed in the powerful combat suit of the Black Panther, tearing up the bad guys that threaten good people with his Vibranium claws, but for me that wasn’t the case; I was more inspired by the actions of the so called villain.

The real lessons learned through viewing this film were these: The “bad guy” is the black American who has justly classified white supremacy as the reigning threat to the prosperity of black people around the world; the “bad guy” is the one who believes Wakanda is being selfish while staying hidden in its secret liberation as others like them ride out constant animosity and mistreatment; the “bad guy” is the one who will no longer stand for the fortitude and restraint displayed by the government of Wakanda, as they are keeping their resources locked within their tribes—he realizes the clear truth that liberation is overdue. But in the end the black “hero” snuffs him out solely for trying to do right by more than just one nation.

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Black Panther Review: KIllmonger’s Uprising Steals the Show