By Bronwyn Raby-Whenham
After Black Panther was said to be the most anticipated solo film of 2018, it gained more than $241 million in the box office after its four-day holiday release. This beat more than double the predicted amount, proving that it’s already a huge success.
As the first Marvel film with a black superhero as the lead, it clearly differs from most other superhero films. In the trailers Wakanda seems otherworldly, with its technological power and a glimpse at a kind of culture we don’t often get to see in films, yet it is still set on Earth and takes place in an isolated nation in Africa. With a majority black cast, it’s already marking a change for the future of Marvel. Lupita Nyong’o said of the film, “I didn’t feel like TV was so diverse, but I just took it in stride. What’s really exciting about this is if I can project my humanity onto people who don’t look like me, from cultures that aren’t like mine, why on earth shouldn’t it be the same in reverse? What we’re talking about is the prominence of this particular film and how it is entering into a more mainstream cultural consciousness”. Black Panther might just set a new motivation for Marvel to showcase superheroes of different backgrounds too, giving a different representation for superhero protagonists. The actress who plays Shuri, Letitia Wright, also had something to say of Marvel’s decision to put the spotlight on minority superheroes, “I’m excited for what Black Panther is about to do, not just for young black boys and girls, but for everyone. There’s a black superhero, but then we’re going to have more Asian superheroes and more from India.”
Black Panther – or T’Challa – played by Chadwick Boseman, is the next new hero in the franchise. Though his first introduction was in Captain America: Civil War, where we witness his father’s death and T’Challa becoming the new leader of Wakanda, this film sees T’Challa having returned to his isolated African nation to become the king. It appears however that there are some obstacles in place which make his succession more complicated; Ulysses (Andy Serkis) and Erik (Michael B. Jordan) are aiming to take down Wakanda and T’Challa, though of course as is typical for a Marvel film, their plan also puts the entire Earth in danger of a world war. There is are quotes from the trailer that appear to hint at the upcoming moral turmoil that T’Challa will experience, as we hear “You get to decide what kind of king you’re going to be” as well as another character saying “It’s hard for a good man to be a king.” This appears to foretell the hard choices that T’Challa will have to make. As a king, and a hero, it’s possible that morality and duty may conflict. This wouldn’t be the first time that Marvel has shown the ambiguity of morality, and how dark it can get. Superheroes often kill villains or work alongside them to achieve the greater good, but as a king T’Challa may find some conflict within himself. Despite the darker elements that Marvel brings its also clear in the trailer that there are badass moments too, with Black Panther destroying moving cars with nothing but himself and his probably high-tech suit. The trailer also shows snippets of Black Panther’s fierce female characters, one of them being Shuri; the smartest person in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At only 16 years old, she makes all of Wakanda’s advanced technology.
Black Panther also has a highly regarded soundtrack produced by Kendrick Lamar, in which eight of the soundtrack songs have already charted on the Billboard Hot 100. In a statement he said “Black Panther is amazing, from its cast to its director. The magnitude of this film showcases a great marriage of art and culture. I’m truly honored to contribute my knowledge of producing sound and writing music alongside Ryan and Marvel’s vision.” So, from Black Panther’s record-breaking sales to its successful soundtrack, the ‘most anticipated solo film of 2018’ seems it hasn’t let down. I’d say it’s definitely one to take a trip to the cinema for.