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Wakanda forever: ‘Black Panther’ is the movie we’ve been waiting for

Courtesy of Wikimedia

It has been 10 years since “Iron Man” marked the beginning of a Marvelous cinematic empire, and while there have been ups and downs since that time, “Black Panther” is undoubtedly one of the best movies to come out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
To put it simply (and spoiler-free), “Black Panther” tells the story of Wakandan prince T’Challa as he takes the throne in the wake of his father’s death, which occurred in “Captain America: Civil War.” While balancing the weight of being the king of Wakanda and being the Black Panther, T’Challa must also handle the threat of Erik Killmonger, a villain who is played quite well by Michael B. Jordan. While facing such dangers, T’Challa is surrounded by family, friends and countrymen, and despite the film undoubtedly centering on the Black Panther of Wakanda, it also engages the audience with other interesting characters. Of course, the storyline and characters are far from the only redeeming factors of this film.
Directed by Ryan Coogler, “Black Panther” maintains the best aspects of the MCU and adds in what other films have been sorely lacking. The action scenes are just as engaging as the all-out brawls from “Captain America: Civil War” and even involve some positively fascinating Wakandan technology. The suspenseful storyline is sprinkled with more laughs than “Ant-Man,” and the “What Are Those?” meme even makes a special appearance. Like Loki, the main villain has a relatable back story and a somewhat likable personality, but Killmonger’s story ties back to modern issues, hitting much closer to home. It seems like Coogler effortlessly picked out the best aspects of the MCU, threw those into the script and then added a few extra ingredients for ~pizzazz~.
Some of that ~pizzazz~ includes strong female characters, people of color and representaton of traditonal African culture and an Anderson native.
Scarlett Johansson better stand aside for the combined power of Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett and Letitia Wright. Even when the title character is off-screen doing secretive, spoiler-ridden things, these women are not only holding down the plot of the film, but raising it to new heights. The MCU has been lacking in strong female characters, and while “Captain Marvel” is likely to amend that, these remarkable actresses have already started to change that fact. Nyong’o portrays a spy who values her personal attachments over her country, Gurira portrays a general who values her nation over her personal attachments and Bassett portrays a strong queen who is keeping her nation together in the wake of her husband’s death. And Wright? She portrays Shuri, a technological genius princess who speaks in memes and calls stealth tech shoes “sneakers.” If she’s not the best thing to ever happen to the MCU, then mankind has some severely skewed views.
On the “Black Panther” IMDb page, the number of white people in the main cast can be counted on one hand. This film essentially took almost every film in the MCU, made the characters more interesting then replaced them with actors and actresses of color. Such a diverse cast is definitely not what makes “Black Panther” so great, but having the highest grossing box office total for a black cast and a black director does invoke a bit of warm fuzzies. Martin Freeman also does a phenomenal job of playing the Token White Character, but unlike Winston Zeddmore in “Ghostbusters,” his presence does serve a legitimate purpose. However, the majority of Freeman’s scenes are riddled with innocent, comic relief one-liners, and it is brilliant. Of course, nothing could be as brilliant as the effortless fusing of traditional African culture with advanced Wakandan technology. Dirt streets filled with colorful, hand-made goods juxtaposed with vibranium-powered monorails are candy to the eye. Colorful and carefully planned costumes are mixed flawlessly with advanced weaponry. Rhinos are ridden into battle alongside jets that would put Tony Stark to shame. Bluntly put, the costume and set designers of “Black Panther” are geniuses and deserve an Oscar.
Chadwick Boseman is actually a native of the lovely Anderson. Granted, none of the other Marvel films really needed an Anderson native to be the star, but if “Black Panther” is going to offer a close look at the best that Anderson County has to offer, then who are we as Clemson students to deny it? Boseman not only represents the greatness of the black community, but the Anderson County community. Also, there’s something magical about seeing a film in the same town that the star is from, and as Clemson students, going to Anderson to see a movie is definitely not hard to do.
It has been over two weeks since “Black Panther” was released, and if you haven’t gone to see the wonderful displays of strong female characters, diversity and just general badass-ery, then at least go to show off your pride of Clemson and its surrounding towns. Support “Black Panther,” the Anderson community and most importantly, support every change that this movie has brought to the MCU, and hope that these changes remain.

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