By Oya Xun
It is the morning after, and the brilliant orange of a Scarborough sunrise transports me back to the awe-inspiring sunset and imagery of WAKANDA. Although a composite city patterned after an African state, Wakanda was created from scenes shot in South Korea, Argentina, and Georgia seamlessly integrated with aerial shots from South Africa, Zambia and Uganda. This picturesque country sits just on the edge of believability.
A historic first for the world, Marvel satisfies in its delivery of the first Black super hero film, Black Panther. Surrounded by actors cast from the African diaspora, including the Caribbean, Chadwick Boseman shines as T’Challa. His past roles playing iconic but very human characters, Jackie Robinson and James Brown, and I can understand why director Ryan Coogler thought Chadwick was a shoo-in for this role. T’Challa proves worthy to become King with his defeat of M’Baku played by Tobagonian Winston Duke. Surviving the battle against Erik Killmonger, complete with resurrection proves that he is worthy to be the Black Panther.
Kudos to the writers who balanced the testosterone film with a generous share of strong female characters. King T’Challa is surrounded women who use their gifts to augment and ultimately save his life. The elegant, Angela Basset slips right into the role of regal Queen Mother – Ramonda; the stunning Lupita Nyong’o, as Nakia is T’Challa’s love interest and moral compass – she has a mind of her own and her own life’s purpose; Guyanese actress, Leticia Wright is Shuri, the brilliant, sister to T’Challa and the brains behind Wakanda’s technological advances; And of course, the all female special forces – Dora Milaje led by Okoye –Danai Gurira send a message that women are integral to the social fabric of Wakandian society.
Spoiler Alert – Marvel fans, if you are expecting that Black Panther will save the world – tune in to the next movie (maybe). This one is about saving Wakunda before the bad guys can destroy the world. The bad guys being Erik Killmonger played by Michael B Jordon and T’Challa’s once loyal friend, W’Kabi, and his followers. For me, the Erik Character is more tragic than genuine bad guy; having his father taken away at a young age and feeling betrayed by family shaped his character and one is left feeling that he no longer has a chance to change his destiny. His allegiance is only to himself; given the power and opportunity, he is a danger to society. As a commentary on the importance of the father figure, it hits home.
I was struck by the view that a successful high tech city must look like the quintessential thriving metropolis resplendent with skyscrapers and neon everywhere. W’kabi’s (bad guy) community contrasts sharply against this lit city; he is placed in a “primitive” setting and uses the gigantic and terrifying Rhinos in battle.
A huge win on the attention to fashion and hairstyling. This movie would not have the same appeal without these culturally defining elements. Nakia’s outfits were stunning and complimented by natural hairstlyes, Nakia’s bumps, the Queen Mothers’ grey locks, M’Baku’s militant fade and the complete shave of the Dora Milaje. One of the best lines in the movie was from Okaje lamenting the fact that she had to don a wig. I predict this movie will help the growing trend towards natural hair styles and the creation of people who are more comfortable and appreciative of natural hair.
For me, this was a thoroughly enjoyable movie, and I give it 9.1 out of 10 Vibranium beads.