Wakanda Forever

Marcus Campbell
MesaCC Legend

Black Panther was released on Feb. 16 in theaters across the nation to critical acclaim and widespread financial success.  As of Feb. 26, Black Panther has grossed over $470 million and over $700 million domestically. Black Panther had an opening weekend of $202 million making it the fifth highest domestic opening of all time.  Black Panther shows very little signs of slowing down in the domestic box office. During its second weekend, the movie suffered from only a 46 percent drop. This drop makes it the lowest second-weekend drop of any movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The drop is only challenged in the superhero category by Blade, Spider-Man and Wonder Woman.

The drop also makes it the lowest drop of any movie that opened above $200 million except for Star Wars: The Force Awakens which had its second weekend over the Christmas holiday. Black Panther currently sits at a healthy 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and 88 percent on Metacritic. Both sites measure critic reviews differently which causes the disparity in scores.  Metacritic uses the aggregate of all critics scores and uses the average for analysis while Rotten Tomatoes uses the percentage of critics who viewed the move favorably and gave the movie a passing or “fresh” score.

Many factors helped Black Panther reach these lofty goals. It was the first mainstream superhero film to feature a black lead.  Black Panther was also the first black lead superhero movie in well over a decade following Blade: Trinity and Catwoman in 2004, both films were critically panned and had modest box office returns.  Black Panther also marks the first predominately black team to helm a superhero film.  Director Ryan Coogler joins an a primarily black cast and crew including veteran actors and filmmakers.

Behind the camera, Coogler is joined by screenwriter Joe Robert Cole, Cinematographer Rachel Morrison, Production designer Hannah Beachler, and costume designer Ruth Carter.  In front of the camera, an all-star cast flaunts in front of the camera. Chadwick Boseman joins Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Sterling K. Brown, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker.  The movie isn’t entirely black however Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman both play an essential role in the film’s story. Black Panther follows T’Challa, the new black panther and leader of the country of Wakanda as he deals with insurrections and family betrayals. Chadwick Boseman stars as T’Challa and is completely convincing as the newly made king. His character is forced to adapt his new kingdom and fight for the throne over the course of the motion picture.

Michael B Jordan starts as Erik Killmonger, Black Panther’s antagonist and challenger to the throne of Wakanda.  Jordan is one of the highlights of the film and turns out an incredible and emotional performance. He plays one of the most convincing villains since Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight.  Jordan’s portrayal of Killmonger is completely believable and the strength of the character is how relatable his motivations are throughout the film.  Never is the audience made to question the character’s motivations, drives, or state of mind. Killmonger might provide a strong point for the film but it’s the women of Black Panther that truly steal the show. Letitia Wright stars as T’Challa’s younger sister Shuri, who provides most of the genius of the film and all of its comic relief.

Every scene where Shuri is present she absolutely steals the screen. She is magnetic, hilarious and brilliant. She is also a fully capable warrior.  Another excellent female character in Black Panther is Okoye played by Danai Gurira. Okoye is the head of an all-female fighting force that protects the king at all times. The female characters in Black Panther are well-rounded characters with real motivations and strengths. The women of Wakanda also don’t rely on their male counterparts in any way.

By the end of the film the women of Wakanda stand as some of the strongest characters and people in the entire country.  Wakanda itself is also beautifully realized and imagined. The sets and costume design are breathtaking and totally immersive.  The authenticity of the movie is astounding considering the movie is based in a fictional world. The film achieves this by staying true to African symbols, accents, customs, and languages.

Mesa Legend Staff

Mesa Legend Staff

Stories contributed by MCC journalism students. See end of each article for corresponding authors.
Mesa Legend Staff

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