Black Panther

By Rina Weaver

Black Panther is a stand-alone superhero film based on Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s character Black Panther, whose origins are set in the fictional African nation of Wakanda. King T’Challa, the protagonist of The Black Panther, is a very sympathetic superhero. Whether or not he’s a superhero, this man, much like the actor who played him, exudes warmth and leadership. T’challa is a one-of-a-kind hero in the greatest possible way.

T’Challa is the King of Wakanda first and a hero second. T’Challa’s coronation ceremony is one of the first moments in the film. The Black Panther’s superhuman abilities are first removed from his body, rendering him a mere human being, according to the rite. The rival tribes are then asked if anyone wants to challenge him for the title of King. M’Baku, the Jabari tribe’s leader, challenges him. And they both fight for the right to be King. There’s no CGI, no sophisticated weaponry, and no meaningless flexing in this fight. The tone is solemn and serious. A human fight. M’Baku was a bit of a nuisance at this point. He’d talked down to T’Challa with arrogance, and he could have been a thorn in his side for years. Nevertheless,  T’Challa wanted M’Baku to yield because he cared about all Wakandans, not just those who backed him. That’s the mark of a true ruler! Despite his role as King of Wakanda, T’challa never let it get the best of him. Shuri jokingly bowed and referred to her brother as “my king” the first time she saw him following his coronation. T’challa, on the other hand, shrugged off tradition in favor of a friendly greeting. It was a sweet moment that demonstrated how his ascension to power will have no effect on his siblings’ relationship.

Rarely does a villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe possess such depth that Killmonger does. He serves as a model for future supervillains. Killmonger’s wrath over the degradation of his race, appropriation of his culture, and the history of Black Americans is relevant and elevates the concept of a sympathetic villain to a new level, unlike many others who have pretty absurd/formulaic causes. T’challa accepted Killmonger’s challenge since he knew it was his cousin’s right. The Queen Mother wanted Killmonger sent out when he was hell-bent on claiming the throne. T’Challa, on the other hand, understood that Killmonger, as the son of a royal, had every right to seek a challenge. T’Challa could have simply followed his mother’s advice and had his cousin escorted out by the guards, but he chose to honor the Wakandan way, even if it meant jeopardizing his life. After T’Challa stabbed Killmonger, he fulfilled his uncle’s promise to show Killmonger the brilliance of a Wakandan sunset.  When Killmonger ingested the heart-shaped herb, he was taken back to his former apartment in Oakland with his father. His father claimed that the sunsets in Wakandan were the most beautiful in the world. Rather than abandoning his cousin on the train tracks, T’Challa attempted to atone for his father’s misdeeds by fulfilling his uncle’s vow. Even after all of Killmonger’s nonsense, T’Challa offered to heal his cousin after he stabbed him. This moment showcased the strength of T’Challa’s character. Just a few minutes ago, Killmonger was trying to kill him, but the king offered to save his life! He recognized his cousin was just a product of his environment—one created by his own father—and didn’t blame him for that.