_David_Hayes_, _Herald_Contributor_

Recently, Marvel studios released “Black Panther” to overwhelming success. Tickets sales have been high, and as a superhero movie, it’s solid; the plot is good, the cinematography is incredible, and the acting is some of the best I’ve seen. The reason “Black Panther” has achieved such success, however, is that it’s more than just a superhero movie. As an African-American, this movie represents so much more. 


While viewing the film, I had an indescribable yet comforting and empowering feeling that I had never experienced before. After 19 years, this was the first movie I have seen where the superhero was someone who looked like me. This movie celebrates Africa and the people of it. I felt connected and an extreme sense of pride, coupled with a sense of empowerment that I never would have imagined possible. Here was a movie where the strong hero and brilliant supporting characters represent me and everything I could hope to be. It’s a unique feeling that has yet to fade since watching the film last weekend.



Chadwick Boseman shines as King T’Challa of Wakanda, who also possess the power of the Black Panther. He is an inspiring main character, with his strength and intelligence ultimately used to decide what is best for his people. The supporting cast is also phenomenal, most notably all the roles portrayed by women of color. They are as strong as the protagonist and illustrate just how powerful women are. Without their support, it’s clear that King T’Challa would be nowhere near as successful as he is. The villain, Eric Killmonger, portrayed by Michael B. Jordan, is not as cold or two-dimensional as conventional antagonists. He feels cast out by the system, and his actions are motivated by the desire to see his people on top rather than oppressed. His people have all faced adversity for centuries, and his anger and motivation are understandable, especially in today’s society. For years, people of color have been oppressed and discriminated against because of the color of their skin, which is evident today with police brutality and an increased racial divide throughout our country. The burning desire to finally end the wrongs people of color have faced makes Killmonger a far more compelling villain than those before him. 


The country of Wakanda is a beautiful African nation, filled with amazing landscapes and an amazing representation of Afro-futurism at its finest. It is a small African country able to withstand the influences of the outside world, and become the most technologically advanced country on the planet. The film’s score, curated by Kendrick Lamar, uses African sounds and beats to embody the themes and feelings present throughout the film. The costume design aids in creating a strong sense of pride and empowerment, as the costumes worn are very detailed and reflect the diversity of tribal nations within Africa.


The film does not stray from the racial animus that is still seen in our society today. Killmonger’s motivation is based on the desire to end the oppression of people of color that has occurred since the beginning of slavery. His convictions lie with those he sees facing frequent adversity due to their skin color, which is seen throughout the film. The people of Wakanda are not ignorant to racial animus either, as clearly displayed when Danai Gurira’s character, Okoye, calls CIA agent and white male Everett Ross a “colonizer.” The bitterness in her voice calls back to the centuries of oppression endured by the African people. They are fully aware of how white Europeans enslaved them and forcefully colonized their land, making their distrust of the outside world far more understandable.


The feelings from this movie were not only experienced by me, but by every person of color, as we finally have a movie that represents us in a positive way. Black Panther allows viewers to connect with it and leaves them with feeling that they too can be great. We can be kings and queens, leaders and role models; we can be our own heroes, and that message speaks volumes. I encourage everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, to go see this movie for themselves; see if they can understand its deeper meanings and get some feeling out of it, or at the very least, go enjoy possibly the best film Marvel has yet to make.