Liberty at the Movies: Black Panther

As promised, here is my review of Black Panther.

Black Panther is not just a movie but a phenomenon, and the best first outing for a new MCU character at least since Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014 and maybe since Iron Man kicked-off the MCU in 2008.  The film is not just entertaining, but it also examines serious political issues.

Any movie where the hero is told that “it’s hard for a good man to be king” right before taking the crown is worth checking out.

Black Panther takes place after the events of Civil War where we first met T’Challa. In Civil War T’Challa’s father was killed, so T'Challa now must assume both the throne of Wakanda and the powers of the Black Panther.

Centuries ago, Wakanda was hit by a meteor which contained vibranium, a powerful element that has allowed Wakanda to develop an advanced society. Vibranium is also present in the herb a new king takes to obtain the powers of the Black Panther.

Wakanda keeps their technology secret, appearing to the world as as a backwards, impoverished country and that is the source of the conflict in the movie.

The nemesis in the film is Erik Stevens, aka Killmonger. Stevens is actually T’Challa’s cousin. As a young man, he saw his father killed by T’Challa’s father because T’Chaka found out that the brother wished to use vibranium as a weapon to help oppressed people rise against their oppressors. Killmonger wants to take T’Challa’s for similar purposes.

Killmonger succeeds in dethroning T’Challa, and even gets help from some of Wakanda's people who agree that Wakanda needs to end its isolation. T’Challa is aided by his genius sister and his female bodyguards.


Of course, T'Challa defeats Killmonger, but Killmonger does achieve a victory of sorts as T’Challa chooses to end Wakanda’s isolation and share it’s technology with the world. However, instead of using the technology for militarism T’Challa decides to use it to help educate and increase opportunities. In other words use the fair-market and charity. So (at least in the movies) a good man can be a king if he does not lust for power and rejected militarism in favor of voluntary exchange and peace. But that’s just in the movies.

Killmonger reprints a trend of Marvel movies of villains with understandable and even sympathetic motivations— starting with Vulture in Spider-Man Homecoming and even Helena in Thor:Ragnarock, these villains have legitimate grievances that reflect real-world issues.

Black Panther features great performances, including by Academy Award winners Forest Whitaker as tribal wiseman Zuri and Golden Globe winner Angela Basset, as TChalla’s mother.

Black Panther features an engaging story, great action, beautiful scenery, and deals with some real-world issues.

The movie is still in theaters but you can buy it here and help Campaign for Liberty.

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