Superhero movies have been dominating the box office, however the Oscars has had little love for the genre. That all changed this year with Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther receiving seven Academy Award nominations, including “Best Picture”. Ten years after the Academy recognized Heath Ledger as “Best Supporting Actor” in The Dark Knight, there has finally been a superhero movie receiving the nod for the most coveted award the Academy has to offer. Such a nomination signals a massive shift in the Academy. While such a nomination should be viewed as the superhero genre receiving a well-deserved nod from the Academy, Black Panther actually winning the award would be a shock. Here is a case for why the King of Wakanda deserves to receive the honor.
Check out our article on our Oscar winner predictions.[Spoiler Warning: This film will be discussed in detail below]
Black Panther Is Not Your Father’s Superhero Movie
On the surface, Black Panther appears to be another stellar installment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is both a type of origin story and a hero evolving into something greater by overcoming the sins of his father. Even though the audience was already introduced to Black Panther in Avengers: Age of Ultron, besides Wakanda being mentioned and that T’Challa already had powers and the Black Panther suit, there was not much explanation in the way of how and why. The beginning of this film gives the audience an idea of Wakanda’s grandeur and how T’Challa has his powers. It also sets up how Ulysses Klaue was an arch-enemy of the Wakanda people, who had eluded T’Challa’s grasp. While this is essentially an origin story, it goes so much deeper.
The beginning of the film leads audiences to believe that Klaue is the mess that T’Challa has to clean up in order to secure his claim on the throne and fix the mistakes of his father. However, this story is a set-up rather than the ultimate story. T’Challa comes to learn that the true enemy that was created by his father was actually Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan. In leaving Erik alone with his dead father, T’Chaka had banished the young boy from Wakanda for the sins of his father. Once Killmonger kills Klaue and brings him to Wakanda, he has done what the last king had never been able to do, and asserts his claim to the throne.
This is an extremely compelling story. Killmonger was orphaned by the former king of Wakanda, and left to watch how those of African descent have been taken advantage of again and again. Meanwhile, there is a glorious African nation in Wakanda that is more technologically advanced than any other in the world and may have been able to step in for centuries to stop this oppression. The nation that Killmonger hails from not only abandoned him, but abandoned their brethren as well. The societal critiques that are prevalent in Black Panther go well beyond a simple action packed flick highlighting the awesome power of a superhero. The film digs its teeth into race into a way that is unprecedented in the genre.
Wakanda is Beyond Beautiful
The Kingdom of Wakanda is stunning to see on the silver screen. A technologically advanced city that has jaw-dropping architecture and a vibrant life of its own. It’s not just the nation itself that is beautiful, but also the people who inhabit Wakanda. The Academy also recognized the film with a nomination for “Best Costume Design” for Ruth E. Carter’s work. The clothing worn infuses traditional African culture with modern touches. Each character that is shown has a readily apparent personality that just jumps off the screen.
In particular, the scene of T’Challa’s ascension to the throne through trial by combat has throes of individuals all singing and dancing together, garbed in their most vibrant clothing. The scene by itself is visually stunning and sets the stage for what is to come, and leaves the audience wanting to explore Wakanda more.
Black Panther is more than just a superhero flick. It infused audiences everywhere with a belief. The words “Wakanda Forever” have been on people’s lips, in tweets, and used in just about every other medium possible. The “Wakanda Forever” salute has been popping up everywhere for months. Back in February 2018 in a football match between Manchester United and Chelsea, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard celebrated Lingard’s match winning goal with the salute and the crowd went crazy. The film inspired an entire people with hope, and allowed them to celebrate their heritage and journey on this world.
The impact that the film had on the world should be taken into account when the winner for “Best Picture” is announced. It is a film that not only racked up $1.344 billion, but also had a tremendous influence on the world itself in a way that not many films are able to achieve. This superhero film doesn’t need to just be recognized for the incredible story, stunningly beautiful costume design, and all the rest that was reflected on the silver screen, but it needs to be recognized for the impact that it had. The reach that Wakanda has had. The glory of the King of Wakanda, the Black Panther.
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