In the fifth episode of the Netflix series Master of None, main character Dev mentions how movies or tv shows traditionally can’t have more than two black people as main characters, and the show wasn’t exactly lying. For a while now, there’s been this idea in Hollywood that movies with black casts wouldn’t perform well internationally. But with Black Panther, Marvel have shown that this mindset is wrong.
The only characters in Black Panther that are white are agent Ross, played by Martin Freeman, and Ulysses Klaue, played by Andy Serkis. Chadwick Boseman returns in his role as T’Challa, the Black Panther. As he ascends to the throne he must decide between what is best for his people or what is best for the world. Boseman inhabits the character, perfectly emanating what a leader should be.
Letitia Wright from Black mirror also impresses as T’Challa’s sister Shuri, the mind behind all of Wakanda’s technological advancements.
One of the biggest wins for the movie comes in the form of the villain Erik Killmonger played by Michael B. Jordan. Killmonger is a character burned by his heritage, who wants to take back everything he feels he deserves including the throne of Wakanda finally, giving the Marvel Cinematic Universe a villain to be feared.
Black Panther may be the latest instalment in the MCU, but it doesn’t seem like it. In any other Marvel movie, the action takes centre stage, but in Black Panther this is not the case. The action scenes seem almost out of place in a film which has a much deeper meaning to it. It stands for equality in race and gender but also tackles the morality of leadership.
In an interview with the New York Times, President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige said that when making the movie he always reminded director Ryan Cooger how the “biggest statement this movie can make is to be a success around the globe.” And that’s exactly what they’ve done.
Black Panther has plenty of action to keep the usual MCU fans happy, but it also stands for something else. So many of the movie’s central characters are female, the movie doesn’t only pass the Bechdel test but demolishes it. When T’Challa speaks with his dead father in Djalia, a form of afterlife, he tells him to surround himself with those he trusts and thus most of the people he chooses to go into battle alongside are women.
The fight scenes are also better than the MCU’s usual fare, in particular when T’Challa must go without his powers through a Wakandan ritual of blood-combat to retain his throne. But of course, the big CGI finale is still there and still visually impressive but almost felt out of place in a super-hero movie where the story took centre stage.
All this leads to the movie currently sitting at approximately €327,183,440.00 at the box office worldwide, clearly showing that the world really doesn’t care about what race the characters are.