Review: ‘Black Panther’ empowers community with black heroes, female warriors

Album art courtesy Top Dawg Entertainment.

Album art courtesy Top Dawg Entertainment.

By Elyssa Seltzer

“Black Panther,” now the top-grossing film with a black director and cast, has taken Hollywood and the country by storm. The film is one of the first major superhero movies to address racial politics, directly addressing issues in communities across the country.

The movie opens with a scene of several young boys playing basketball in Oakland, California. All of a sudden, one boy curiously looks up to see strange lights in the sky. Later, it’s revealed that these lights belong to a spaceship flying to to the fictional African country of Wakanda, where the rest of the film takes place.

Though Wakanda is geographically isolated, its technological advancements allow the nation to rely on an invaluable fictional metal called Vibranium. In trying to protect this valuable resource, Wakanda shuts itself off from the outside world. This decision becomes controversial, however, as others challenge the presiding Black Panther, T’Challa, for the title of Black Panther.

Black Panther includes not only powerful black superheroes but also strong women. The Black Panther’s allies consist of a group of female warriors, who demonstrate their strengths, smarts and bravery throughout the film as they help defeat enemies in battles. After decades of superhero movies featuring overwhelmingly white male actors, Marvel Films aced the modern black superhero as well as female representation.

The historic representation of the black community makes “Black Panther” a movie that reaches new levels of diversity in both directing and casting.

Despite the frequently violent scenes, “Black Panther” is not just a superhero movie—as the citizens of Wakanda cross their arms and exclaim, “Wakanda Forever!,” it’s a celebration too, and one that displays both black strength and national unity.