Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, February 19, 2018

Black Panther steps into the spotlight for a new age of superheroes

One of the most anticipated films of this year has turned out to be a roaring success and not just based on the record breaking box office totals.

 Black Panther has been receiving positive reviews from audiences and critics alike as massively as seats have been filled in movie theaters around the country and across the globe. My sister and I started our cinematic new year off with Black Panther at a matinee showing that was next to the last one sold out that day.

It's rare for a matinee screening to be sold out that rapidly, even for big ticket fare like the Star Wars franchise, so we knew right away what a major deal we were walking into here. My sis hadn't even seen Captain America:Civil War(which introduced Black Panther into the current Marvel Cinematic Universe) but caught on quick to the plot line unfolding before us.

With out giving out any major spoilers, here is the basic story: upon the death of his father, Prince T'challa(Chadwick Boseman) returns home to the hidden African nation of Wakanda to ascend the throne.

 To outsiders, Wakanda is simply a small country of farmers but thanks to the power of vibranium,a metal that also was used to create Captain America's shield, their technology is far ahead of the rest of the world. It's a place that has never known Western colonialism nor suffered under foreign oppression.

Keeping Wakanda safe is T'challa's main priority and with the help of his scientist sister Shuri(Letitia Wright) and his protective queen mother Ramonda(Angela Basset), along with former love interest and spy Nakia(Lupita Nyong'o), plus general of the royal female guard known as the Dora Milaje, Okoye(Danai Gurira), he goes forth to hunt down an old enemy.

That prior foe Ulysses Claue(Andy Serkis) unexpectedly leads them to a newer and possibly greater enemy, Erik "Killmonger" Stevens(Michael B. Jordan). Killmonger has a secret connection to Wakanda and plans to use their advanced weapons for his own revenge based agenda. That's all you really need to know beforehand to enjoy the action packed and emotionally charged pace of the movie. For a movie that runs a little over two hours, the steady beat of the plot points makes that time seem short:

There are so many good things about this movie that it's hard to know where to start: the beautiful looks of the settings,especially in Wakanda, and vibrant costumes, the kinetic energy between the characters, the excellent character development given to Killmonger( Michael B. Jordan having worked with director Ryan Coogler in prior films such as Creed made all the difference).

I guess for me, having so many strong female characters was my personal favorite. Yes, they were working for a male heir to the throne but out of dedication to higher principles rather than merely having a man in charge.

At one point,(semi-spoiler) there's even a brief conversation between two of the ladies about whether or not to support a new regime due to who's in charge and frankly, I wondered if this kind of debate is going on in real life higher offices because if it's not, it should be and with as much candor as this fictional discussion had.

Anyway, my favorite of the female characters was Oyoke, a woman who brooks no nonsense in any of the situations thrown her way and her loyalty is as fierce as her battle stance is at any given moment. I would love to see Oyoke get a solo movie somewhere down the line and not just an appearance in the next Avengers film. Perhaps that may happen, we shall see:

One of the best things about Black Panther is that it's opening the door to more diverse representation in mainstream genre films and proving that audiences will most definitely come.

I know some people out there are already unhappy about that and to them I say "You don't know the true nature of fantasy". A major pillar of any fantasy/scifi forum, whether it's film,book or television, is that sociopolitical subjects can be showcased in a format that allows everyone to examine them more objectively.

From the space alien/race relations metaphors on the original Star Trek TV series to the crisis based themes found in Lord of the Rings, fantasy in particular has reflected the conflicts of the culture at hand. Rather that simply be escapist entertainment(which is not a bad thing when needed), solid fantasy fare has much more to say about what's going on around us.

Hollywood needs to embrace this fully instead of shying away, as they often do. I wish that DC Comics would add more of this to their movie line-up(the only exception so far has been Wonder Woman) but their CW shows have caught up better with the times.

 On series such as Supergirl, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, we have plenty of smartly written female leads, interracial relationships(both platonic and romantic),multicultural characters given true depth and gay/bisexual representation,all of which enhances each series and the characters involved.

The newest addition to this small screen universe is Black Lightning, a show that is grounded in real world issues as much as Black Panther is and also a wonderful comic book adaptation being well respected and appreciated. This is the wave of the future,folks, let us catch it in the here and now!:

Hopefully, Black Panther is a sign of better movies to come and not a one and done deal. Our fictional heroes need to be relevant and relatable in order to properly resonate with audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

This movie is amazingly good,plus the soundtrack is full of great tunes(many of which are by Kendrick Lamar and friends). I honestly can't find any fault with this and will even admit that Black Panther had a tighter third act than Wonder Woman did(and I adore WW!).

If you have the chance to see this in theaters, take it, I beg of you. Black Panther is both high quality and thoughtful entertainment, which is what we deserve from Hollywood and should demand more often. Having more great superheroes to look forward to can help us get through the tough times ahead and bring us all together in a way that clearly our real world leaders can't or won't:

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