Black Panther

(Marvel Studios)

 

After his father dies, T’Challa earns the title of King, and faces a surprising enemy..

 

Rated PG-13, for prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief rude gesture.

Genre: Sci-fi action              

Viewer Appeal: Kids of ages 10 and up

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At Phoenix Comicon last year, the buzz on the floor was that Marvel was finally making a Black Panther movie. It's been almost a year since hearing that chatter in the autograph lines, but after seeing this film, we have to say: Black Panther was worth the wait.

 

Nowadays, most Marvel superheroes are introduced (unless you are a comic aficionado) by a movie explaining who they are and the history of their superpowers (Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America), and are then inserted into an Avengers kind of movie. But, the Black Panther is different, and in more ways than just his introduction.

 

If you’ve been following the Marvel movies, you’ll remember Black Panther from the most recent Captain America movie, Captain America: Civil War. He’s the superhero from the African country of Wakanda that emerged after the bombing in Vienna at the signing of the Sokovia Accords. While we know he’s the prince of Wakanda, little is known about the Black Panther.

 

So, the history…Wakanda is a small country in Africa that was hit by a meteorite millions of years ago. This meteorite contained vibranium (the same metal used in Captain America’s shield), and effected the plant life where it hit. The Panther goddess came in a vision to a warrior, showing him a plant which holds vibranium, and when eaten would give him the strength and instincts of a panther. He was the first Black Panther and brought peace to the region. Realizing the world was not ready for the power of vibranium, the tribes of Wakanda hid it for themselves.

 

And now the present…when the King of Wakanda died in Vienna, his son, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), returns to Wakanda, expecting to become the next king and Black Panther. Met by his mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), and his sister, Shuri (Leticia Wright), T’Challa is stripped of his Panther abilities and opens himself to a challenge from the other tribes. All bow out, except the leader of the Jabari tribe. After proving himself to the fierce competitor, T’Challa is crowned King and his abilities returned.

 

Black Panther the movie moves back and forth in time frequently throughout the movie, revealing to the audience recent history bit by bit. Part of this story is back sometime in the past 20 years, when a Wakandan living in Oakland, CA decides that the world would benefit from vibranium. He hires a black-market dealer known as Klaue (Andy Serkis) to “steal” vibranium from him. T’Challa’s father, the then current Black Panther, discovers what has happened and has the traitor killed. Shortly after becoming king, T’Challa gets word that Klaue has been spotted in South Korea, so he travels there with his general, Okoye (Danai Gurira), and ex-girlfriend, Nakai (Lupita Nyong’o) to intercept Klaue and bring him to justice. Of course, Klaue gets away, but is killed by one of his own, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who has an agenda of his own.

 

Some have noted that Black Panther is a “black” movie…the majority of its actors are black, as is the director. While Black Panther takes on issues such as prejudice and equality, they aren’t presented as simply racial issues, or American issues, but those that touch every society and class. People who have and are not sharing with those who don’t or are seen as less-than, whether it’s wealth, class, race, sexuality, or whatever. It’s a movie that can spark great conversation about numerous issues that we all face wherever we live.

 

Most people though don’t see Marvel movies expecting a moral lesson. What they really want to know: 1) is it filled with action? 2) how are the special effects? 3) is it entertaining? The answer to all three questions is yes. The action starts at the beginning, and goes all the way to the end, all the while developing a great story filled with moments of hilarity and thought. It’s a movie that has worth for more than its action and entertainment value, and is one that shouldn’t just bring conversation, but possibly spark action toward helping others.

 

Let's Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:

 

• Killmonger is focused in injustice done in the past, and, in anger, righting that injustice by promoting injustice toward others. T’Challa sees the same injustice but sees hope by including everyone in the solution. Which point of view is promoted in our society? Which is most beneficial? What can you do to be part of positive change?

 

•Not only does T’Challa see the injustice done to Killmonger, he also has compassion, despite Killmonger’s efforts to overthrow him. How do you handle those who are against you? What can you learn from T’Challa?

 

•A major them of Black Panther is helping others. How can you help those who are underserved or in need of a helping hand? Be specific.

--Jill Wuellner & Todd Wuellner

 

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