In the great Marvel versus DC debate, I’m a solid DC fan. Batman has been my hero since 1992, and the new Superman and Wonder Woman movies have placed me firmly in the camp of the Justice League over the Avengers. However, I’m glad to announce that I have finally found my Marvel superhero. That hero is King T’Challa of Wakanda, aka Black Panther.
Played brilliantly by Chadwick Boseman, T’Challa isn’t your typical hero. While he has gifts from the goddess Bast of catlike reflexes and great strength, he is still remarkably human. He has weaknesses, he has flaws, and he has a wicked sense of humor. His pride in his country, his family, and his heritage is strong and at the forefront of his character, only adding to the relevance of his character in the present time.
Let’s talk female characters. There have been a number of strong females in superhero cinema, but I don’t think there have ever been so many in a single film. The strongest warriors in Wakanda, the Dora Milaje, are female, led by General Okoye (played by Danai Gurira). T’Challa’s mother, Queen Romonda (Angela Bassett), is a strong familial matriarch proud of her two children; the younger of whom is Shuri (Letitia Wright), the lead scientist and inventor of Wakanda, who is constantly making improvements to not only the Black Panther armor and gear, but to all parts of Wakandan life. Last but not least, there’s Nakia, brought to life by the astonishing Lupita Nyong’o. She’s a spy, a great fighter, and a humanitarian; a well-rounded character who happens to become the hero’s love interest (though they already have some history), rather than being shoehorned in with no personality or development.
No superhero movie is complete without a good villain, and Black Panther manages to have two. The secondary villain, Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), is the typical psychotic villain. From smashing glass to belting out a song while bound to a chair, Klaue is insane, violent, and unpredictable. In stark contrast, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) is thorough, methodical, and vicious, while simultaneously being easily the most sympathetic and relatable character in the entire film. The challenge battles fought between him and T’Challa are not to be missed, while both sides battle for the fate of not only Wakanda, but the entire world.
As a DC fan, I’ve set my standards for Marvel movies very high. Black Panther surpassed them all. Visually stunning, Black Panther grabs you and holds on from the opening scenes to the final battle, and incredible music by composer Ludwig Göransson brings the film to thrilling life.
If you haven’t seen Black Panther yet, do yourself a favor and see it now. And be sure to stick around for the credits; T’Challa’s speech to the UN is extraordinarily relevant in today’s troubled times.