Wakanda Forever!


Nia McNab and her friends saluting “Wakanda Forever” in front of the Black Panther poster. (Photograph taken by Alejandro Escobar).

The recent movie buzz has been centered around Marvel’s “Black Panther,” which came out on February 16. The movie features a mainly African-American cast led by Chadwick Boseman, who plays T’Challa, the king of Wakanda and the Black Panther; he is also from Anderson, South Carolina, not far from our hometown! Even though it is a Marvel superhero movie, is there a deeper meaning to this popular film? Spoiler Alert: if you still haven’t seen the movie, but you are planning on watching it, be careful not to bite through your retainer when Michael B. Jordan pops up on screen!

“There was definitely a deeper meaning in the movie. It talks about wanting to have everybody together instead of just separating each other and not helping one another. They establish an intercommunity. At the beginning, they were two separate communities that didn’t really think about each other except for what was on the surface; eventually, they connected and kind of said, ‘Okay, we can look down deeper than what is on the outside,’” says freshman Stephen O’Bryan.

The character of Black Panther was created in 1966 to give the superhero community a little diversity. Ever since its creation, the hero has changed the way people view black characters. Although, in the beginning, because of the racism that was circulating throughout the U.S., it did not have as much of an impact as it has had recently. The 2018 version of the Black Panther movie has stirred up conversation among viewers because there is more to the movie than just another superhero.

“It was a nice inspiring movie, bringing African American superheroes to light. You don’t really see a lot of those. The deeper meaning behind the movie was basically saying that there are other people out there who truly need help. The resolution in the end of the movie is that you really do need to help people, and you do need to own up to the responsibilities and problems that you created,” says junior Nia McNab.

The movie primarily takes place in Wakanda, a country in Africa that has been untouched by western influences, and vibranium is the sustaining resource. The conflict in the movie is that some of the Wakandans believe the vibranium should be used to help suffering African countries and people. Other Wakandans, though, believe that they should stick with the tradition that they know so well: isolation. They would like to help the other suffering countries, but do not want to risk letting in western ideas.

“I try to do almost the exact opposite of what the whole city did. I try to help people as much as I can, but I think the thing to do is to try to find a balance between helping people and staying to yourself. The Black Panther is important in today’s society. It shows that we are shifting from more of a prejudice television to an equality reality TV. It used to be predominantly white, but now there are more shows featuring black casts,” says senior Josh Whisler.

The opening scene of the movie introduces the conflict. Killmonger’s father, who was the prince of Wakanda, was sent to America as a spy. While he is in America, the prince observes the poorly conditioned neighborhoods that African Americans are living in, the ongoing discrimination, the drug wars, poverty, and over-policing in black neighborhoods. After experiencing all of these issues, the prince believes that Wakanda should be helping.

“I think the movie would have been important in society 30 years ago also. Back in the day, they weren’t really that accepting of different races with their cultures and beliefs; now, today, you have all of these different cultures and beliefs and it’s accepted. You still have some cultures that are not accepted, but eventually they will be,” says McNab.

Killmonger, the villain of the movie, grew up experiencing the issues that his father was trying to stop before he died. The former king, T’Challa’s father and Killmonger’s uncle, failed to take Killmonger back to Wakanda with him after confronting and killing the prince. By growing up in poverty instead of Wakanda, Killmonger grew up seeking revenge and wanted to become king of Wakanda.

“The whole city was kind of like, ‘Oh, we’ll stay to ourselves and not mess with anyone else,’ but then they realized in the end that they needed to help other people. I felt like there was a fine line between helping others and hurting others; one guy thought they needed to help others. In a way, doing so, they would have hurt others as well. You have to be able to find that balance,” says junior Emma Fretwell.

Wakanda had the resources to help poor African countries, but they did not want any western influence. If they wanted to help the other countries, they would have had to discontinue their way of isolationism. When Killmonger finally got to Wakanda, he wanted to end isolationism, so that he could make money by arming the minorities in other countries to help them overthrow their governments.

“I think this movie is a lot different than other Marvel movies. It is a lot deeper than the others. The other ones were just the surface. You know, ‘Yeah, I like it. It’s funny to watch and action packed,’ but this one has a deeper meaning. It really went into depth with ethnic backgrounds and things like that,” says O’Bryan.

In the end, Wakanda ends their isolationism so that they can help struggling blacks across the world after Killmonger brought to light all of the problems that they were facing. Overall, the movie was fantastic, and it is loved by many; however, most people don’t think about the true meaning behind the Wakandan vibranium technology.

“I love this movie. I have already seen it two times and when it comes out on DVD I’m going to buy it! My favorite part was when the guard said, “If he touches you one more time, I will impale him on this desk.’ I would definitely see the movie again,” says Whisler.