An African’s Review of Black Panther

Dubbed Marvel’s ‘best superhero movie’, Black Panther has already received the status of ‘#1 movie in the world’! Whether or not you’re a comic book/movie fan, Black Panther’s innovative setting, authentic costumes and riveting storyline is worth your money, time and popcorn. Hollywood’s first black superhero movie was bound to cause a stir, but no one anticipated what a knockout it would be.

Without giving away any spoilers (although you should’ve watched it by now), the scene is set in the fictional land of Wakanda, a depiction of futuristic Africa with all the modern advancements incorporated into African tradition. The whole world sees Wakanda as a backward, third world nation, not realizing the land possesses an invaluable resource – vibranium, the key to the city’s entire power system. The storyline is centered around T’Challa, who returns to Wakanda after the passing of his father to reclaim his rightful place as king.

As an African, I appreciated the director’s efforts to depict authentic attributes unique to the African continent – from traditional costumes, local languages, and most importantly, local actors. It’s unfortunate, however, that the same effort wasn’t put into nailing local accents. That cheap Hollywood-version-of-an-African-accent (which doesn’t belong to any African country) crept up again. The inability to choose and perfect local accents made the characters less relatable. At times it felt actors were so focused on getting the accent right that it detracted from potentially powerful scenes.

But all of this is forgivable, given that Black Panther is more than a movie, it is a powerful cinematic voice addressing so many historical, and current socio-political issues. I praise it for its representation of African people and culture in a way that’s never been done before in Hollywood.

So, when it hit the shores of the dark continent Nubian kings and queens in full traditional attire, came to witness the people of Wakanda making scientific revelations in isiXhosa. With African drum processions on box office launch dates and ululations in the cinema the people of Africa paid their respects to the marvelous land of Wakanda.