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Black Panther: Not Just Another Superhero Movie

Last weekend, millions of men, women and children flooded movie theaters worldwide, many even dressed to impress in their favorite African-inspired garb, to take part in the cultural event that broke records and made history.

The highly-anticipated opening of Black Panther, the newest Marvel film directed by Ryan Coogler, smashed the box office with global ticket sales soaring above $387 million, making it the top-grossing film in history by a Black director and a predominantly Black cast.

The star-studded cast includes Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyongo, Forest Whitaker, Danai Gurira and more in this profoundly empowered telling of an African story.

This concept of an African story centered on African superheroes is one that has never been done before, but has been demanded by many for quite some time. Those who have waited to see themselves, their culture and their people represented on the big screen in a positive and uplifting light, are in for quite a treat.

The film, appropriately released in the midst of our celebration of Black history, uses the tale of Wakanda, an African kingdom that is untouched by colonization and prejudice, with technology and resources never-before-seen by the rest of the world and that boasts Black superheroes, fierce women warriors and an unapologetically unique culture, to send a message that Black people can save the world, too.

While entertaining a classic battle between good and evil, combined with each character’s search for righteousness in the midst of it all, Black Panther tastefully delves into issues of racial injustice, immigration and gender roles by referencing realities that plague our own society, such as mass incarceration, cultural appropriation and systematic oppression.

In the end, it comes down to deciding if Wakanda should use its vast resources to help those struggling in this broken system or shut them out once and for all. A question we are all too familiar with as our own nation has been grappling with it for the past few years. The answer is worth seeing for yourselves.

The film’s subtle use of sarcasm and quite a few laugh-out-loud moments, combined with its underlying commentary on society, made the movie easy to follow and easy to love. Its stellar graphics, unbeatable cast and storyline not only reminds audiences of our undying obsession with superheroes, but also conveys a crucial truth to all boys, girls, men and women everywhere: superheroes can come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Wakanda forever!

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Tigist Layne

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