The king is dead, long live the king! T’Challa (very good Chadwick Boseman) returns to his native country, African Wakanda, to take the throne after his father’s death. New-made king has to not only take care of his own people, but also take responsibility of the future of the entire world. The director of the movie, Ryan Coogler, decides to reverse the traditional model of the world in which black continent is considered to be the weakest and locates there natural weapons that can do both – destroy or safe the Earth that we know. Black power in “Black Panther” is very literal – it’s not a movie about empowering people of Africa, but about the so-called third world being responsible for the distribution of power on the entire globe.
In one of the most symbolical scenes (from the ending) one black American little boy asks the protagonist who he is and if the strange powerful, futuristic vehicle that just has landed on the playground belongs to him. The sincerely surprised kid represents here the entire Afro-American audience that finally gets their own superhero – the titled Black Panther that not only wears black and super cool costume, but underneath is black as well. Coogler’s movie is a symbolical revenge of the suppressed ones, but also – above all – a first super-hero tale in which black actresses and actors dominate on every plan. What’s important, the director, when repeating schemes of Hollywood narrations, doesn’t force his characters to be like their white colleagues. He adds to his picture local colouring – African old rituals, dances, beliefs. On the visual level his “Black Panther” is like a postcard from a real world in which magic still exists.
Coogler’s movie is a utopian, but beautiful fantasy about the world in which chances are not only equalized, but even totally reversed. Wakanda is a place in which we want to believe, because it represents and – more importantly – fixes all the things that the real world has failed in. What’s interesting, the American people that we meet don’t know about power that king T’Challa has. For a long time he remains in their eyes a ruler from the third world country that was robbed by white thief from inappreciable amount of natural weapons and has not much left. But the real Wakanda has not much in common with its image that white Americans has. It’s a powerful kingdom that knows technologies that Western scientists have never even dare to dream about. Coogler knows that the real world really misses Wakanda and that it should find a way of building it.
The director turns his “Black Panther” not only into a fantasy about better reality, but also quips with threads taken from public discourse of her and now. The king becomes an allegory of all great rulers of powerful countries that have not only enormous power, but also even bigger and more serious responsibility. The narration is fulfilled with references to dilemmas and temptations of the most important people that decide in which direction the history of the world will develop. The king of Wakanda will have to make decision that will influence the lives of immigrants and will be tempted to build the wall in the name of the good of his own people. He will have to choose between safety of his country and it potentially never-ending prosperity and living the known and tamed reality to help his brothers and sisters that live somewhere else and are experienced discrimination and racism. “Black Panther” is also a movie about necessity of destroying the old order of the fathers and choosing change over tradition, matriarchy over patriarchy. This is the most powerful message that comes from Coogler’s movie – to make the world a better place, we must rethink and rearrange it.
“Black Panther” is a great movie as a tale about empowering the weak ones and looking for strength where before it was unseen – in Wakanda, a place in which women are not only goddesses of domestic order, but also great scientists, warriors, and decisive activists, but as a spectacle is rather wearisome and predicable. What is refreshing on the plot level, gets lost in the super-hero show.