This article contains spoilers for "Black Panther"
There is so much that could be praised about the "Black Panther." The incredibly beautiful scenery. The lineup of amazing actors like Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong'o, Daniel Kaluuya, Martin Freeman and Michael B. Jordan. The soundtrack that was just fire.
There is a lot to praise for this movie. But one thing that stands out and makes this movie so important is the cultural aspect of the movie. The movie celebrates countries we often overlook.
The portrayal of Africa was outstanding. Of course, Wakanda is a fictional place. But, it was inspired by various African cultures. From the clothing worn by the Wakandans to the music and chanting going on as they celebrate Prince T'Challa becoming king.
We get to see Africa's beauty in the midst of our president calling it a "shithole" country. The costumes worn were inspired by Africa. The shots shown as Black Panther flies over to get to Wakanda are actual shots of Nigeria. The people of Africa were extremely touched by the portrayal of their country.
South African journalist Sumeya Gasa told The Root she felt overwhelmed and emotional seeing well-rounded African characters on screen in a big Hollywood film. "We were humanized, and that matters. It feels so good, too good," she said.
"Tears stream down my face as I write this," said a Facebook user. "Black Panther was basically an enormous roller coaster of emotions, adventure and most of all, the affirmation of what I had felt since I left my country for Cambridge and came back. I cried for my people and felt immense pride in being Ethiopian and most importantly AFRICAN. We are truly resilient and beautiful."
The movie doesn't only shine a positive light on Africa; the movie puts black people from all over the world in a positive light. Not only is the cast primarily black; these are black actors that are known. These aren't actors you've never seen before.
"Black superheroes aren’t represented or even known as much as white ones. Think about how we didn’t even get a black Barbie until the late '60s," says Deprina Brooks. "This has been ignored for so long. So when it finally came to pass, everyone was like 'finally!'. Kids and other cultures that AREN’T white need to understand that you can be a superhero, too."
Usually, black people are portrayed in films as either slaves or thugs. Black Panther portrays them as heroes or people who are tired of being oppressed and want to rise above – as is the case of Michael B. Jordan's character Erik Killmonger.
The movie also takes real political struggles happening and portrays them in a way that isn't too in-your-face. Nakia is a spy for Wakanda who goes undercover to oppressed places and tries to help. She wants to open Wakanda up for refugees.
The people of Wakanda are opposed because they run their country on vibranium — the world's toughest metal — and they fear if other countries have access to their vibranium, it'll put Wakanda at risk. They just can't risk letting the vibranium fall into the hands of someone with not so good intentions.
This situation completely mirrors the one we are going through with our immigration policies. What this movie doesn't do is add in too much politics. They don't try to sway you to one side over the other.
"the conflict within Wakanda deals with the current issues we are dealing with. It is a conflict on whether they should do what is right — open their borders and share their potentially life-saving technology with the rest of the world — or maintain and protect their way of life by closing themselves off and ignoring the issues around the world. These issues are addressed without being too political or preachy," says Rebecca Rosado Lopez.
Black Panther was also one of the few times where women were able to shine through. Usually, with hero movies, the woman is the love interest or the damsel in distress. In this movie, the main characters were the women.
Yes, the Black Panther and Erik Killmonger are the protagonist and antagonist, but the Black Panther surrounded himself with strong women who helped him in every way.
In Wakanda, the Dora Milaje is King T'Challa's army compiled of women. They are loyal and fierce soldiers who fight right alongside the king.
"Finally, girls can say 'I wish I was as smart as Shuri or as brave as Nakia or Okoye,'" says Grace Hernandez. "It's time for a change in the world of superheroes and Black Panther provides that."
When W'Kabi, head of security of the Border Tribe in Wakanda and T'Challa's best friend, loses his faith in Black Panther, he begins to follow orders from Erik Killmonger. During the last battle scene between the Border Tribe and the Dora Milaje, W'Kabi asks Dora Milaje soldier and his love interest, Okoye, if she'd be willing to kill him. Without hesitation, she says "for Wakanda, yes" and holds her spear up to him until he surrenders, thus ending the battle.
Women usually do not have such a big role in these movies. They are usually there just to give the hero someone to save. The women here, they are strong and intelligent. Nakia literally saves T'Challa's life at one point.
All of the technology is created and maintained by T'Challa's little sister Shuri. Usually, you would see a man, who is kind of nerdy-looking, be in charge of technology. Shuri is obviously intelligent and passionate about her technology but she is also relatable.
The relationship between her and T'Challa is like any sibling relationship. Funny banter but they have each other's back. She also has a bold personality and dresses like a normal young girl. And when it comes to fighting, she has every gadget at the ready to help Wakanda and her brother.
The times are changing for everyone in 2018. It is time movies start portraying what is really affecting us and Black Panther definitely delivers.