Anticipation surrounding Black Panther has been high from the moment the cast was announced back in 2016. With trending hashtags like #BlackPantherSoLit keeping the spirit of the historic movie alive for two years, the hype has only grown with each trailer and image release that graced the internet. After having attended its European Premiere, I can verify that the movie did not disappoint. From its character development to the fight scenes and humorous nature effortlessly weaved into various moments, Black Panther can be classed as one of Marvel’s best.
It boasts an array of actors including seasoned veterans of the industry such as Angela Bassett and Forest Whittaker, but it also warmly welcomes and allows spotlight to shine on Hollywood newcomers, Letitia Wright and Winston Duke.
Whilst I didn’t expect anything less than a great performance from King T’Challa himself, I was pleasantly entertained and inspired by the female warriors in his life. From his younger sister, Princess Shuri, to his head of special forces, Okoye, both getting as much attention as Chadwick Boseman on the big screen, there’s something to learn from the women in his life who played anything but a passive role in Black Panther.
1. Where there's a great man, there’s also a great woman
Black Panther would not be the amazing superhero he is without his biggest and most loyal supporters; behind this great man was an even greater army of women. Chadwick Boseman’s character was surrounded by the fiercest all-female special forces known as the Dora Milaje who have pledged to serve the throne and keep him safe. His mother, played by Angela Bassett, is his wise counsel and his younger sister is the smartest person and coolest girl in the world. King T’Challa has the wisest, smartest and strongest women in his corner that keep him safe and give him great advice even if he doesn’t always listen. When he does though, it goes to show who really runs the world.
Michael B. Jordan on the importance of Black Panther & black representation in movies
2. Not every woman needs a love interest
Whilst falling in love is all well and good, Princess Shuri, played by Black Mirror actress, Letitia Wright, may possibly end up being everyone’s favourite character. The Guyanese-British actress stole many moments of the film with her character’s unintentional humour, tech savvy prowess and her high level of intelligence that is second to none. Not even the Iron Man genius himself, Tony Stark, can compare. Considering society places a lot of emphasis on women needing to be in relationships to feel accomplished, Princess Shuri is single-handedly responsible for making sure that Wakanda’s technological advancement is unrivalled. With no love interest in sight she is the true definition of a highly accomplished woman living and loving her best life without a man.
3. We should always fight for what we believe in
It wouldn’t be a true Marvel film if there wasn’t a battle scene or two and Black Panther is no exception to this rule. We see both Lupita Nyongo’s and Danai Gurira’s characters, Nakia and Okoye, physically and emotionally fight for what they believed was right despite what others may have thought. These two characters are not only the strongest warriors in Black Panther but they go against the stereotype that women make decisions solely based on their emotions.
4. Sometimes, the wig and the heels need to come off when you mean business
If there’s one scene that has had fans, particularly black women, clapping with glee, it’s the fight scene in which we see Okoye remove her wig and throw it in the face of an attacker whilst Nakia takes off her heels to slash another attacker’s face. Other than these moments displaying what can only be described as effective defence moves, Okoye and Nakia truly turned “leave the fighting to the men” completely on its head. It just goes to show that sometimes we just need to remove some items to get the job done and still look flawless whilst doing it!
5. The world doesn’t fall apart when men and women share the spotlight
In a world where men often dominate top positions in almost all fields of work, it’s refreshing to see what gender diversity can do. King T’Challa certainly respects and values the women he is surrounded by and he doesn’t overshadow or silence their opinions despite the fact that he could do so because of his royal status. Whilst the film is clearly centered around Black Panther, it’s hard to not notice that Princess Shuri, Nakia and Okoye are characters in their own right who bring their varying personalities to the dynamic of the movie. All three command every scene they’re in and are a great example that it’s possible for women to have brains, brawn and beauty!
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