‘Black Panther’: The Best Super Hero Film Since ‘Wonder Woman’

If you aren’t one of the hundreds of thousands who flocked to theater this past week, boosting the ‘Black Panther’ box office to a record-setting $235 million, then here’s why you still need to see it.

There’s nothing cooler than the idea of a magical world hidden right here on earth, and that’s exactly what happens in Black Panther. The enchanting kingdom of Wakanda, which has been shrouded form the view of the rest of the world by the original “Black Panther” centuries ago, is a technologically advanced paradise on earth. Located deep in the heart of the mountainous Africa, Wakanda has flourished ever since a meteor filled with powerful metal, Vibranium, lands on earth and spreads its elements into a native herb. One of the courageous and wise warriors of a local tribe eats one of the heart shaped herbs and becomes king and is so powerful that he is able to unite his own tribe with four others that have all been warring. The resulting kingdom is Wakanda. And now, living in peace and obscured from the rest of the world, the Wakandans have developed scientific and medical technologies, using vibranium, that are way farther advanced than anything seen outside of their kingdom.

It’s a little bit Superman — krytonite — a whole lot Wonder Woman with its hidden-from-the-world realm and fantastical female warriors — and a little bit of secret paradise, Brigadoon. And, like in Wonder Woman, the inhabitants of Wakanda, debate whether they should share their gifts with the outside world to combat evil or protect their treasures for fear of them being exploited the the wrong way. This debate is forced on the new king of Wakanda, following the murder of his father, T’Chaka. But first, can I just say — what is a country as advanced as Wakanda still doing with a ruling monarchy?! Wouldn’t all that brilliance in the sciences and supposedly arts have led them to a democratic system? And even more weirdly — wouldn’t they have abandoned ritual combat to determine their king? And hey — is this a purely patriarchal society? Women have revered positions in Wakanda — leading the military and the sciences and technology, but not deemed worthy enough to rule? Like what happens if the king had only daughters — would they also have to throw down in ritual combat, even against male challengers?

These questions will not be answered by Black Panther, but that won’t ruin your good time watching Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther, T’Challa, Michael B. Jordan as his nemesis, Erik Killmonger, Lupita Nyong’o as the daring Wakanda spy, Nakia,Letitia Wright as T’Challa’s brilliant little sister, Shuri, Danai Gurira as the fierce General, Okoye, and Daniel Kaluuya as the wayward, W’Kabi. The often funny, crisp dialogue between the characters will entertain you every bit as much as the Black Panther’s impressive fighting skills and ability to crouch on the roof of a speeding car. And wow, that Okoye sure knows how to wield a spear!

Like Wonder WomanBlack Panther proves that a superhero film can be smart and funny and not just a series of special effects and stunts. It also proves that an African American director, Ryan Coogler,  with an almost entirely black cast can have total and utter crossover and international appeal, breaking any ridiculous myth that they couldn’t. Now, I can hardly wait to see a big Black Panther takeover at Oscars 2019. So, if you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you do

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