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Black Panther: A hero we need right now

February 24, 2018 GMT

The Black Panther made his debut in a Marvel comic book way back in 1966 — at the height of the civil rights movement — when he appeared in an issue of The Fantastic Four. (The comic cost 12 cents then). More than 50 years later, the Black Panther is now the starring character in his own movie starring Chadwick Boseman as our African-American superhero. The film, directed by Ryan Coogler — the first African-American man to direct a movie with Marvel studios — has already broken box office records in its first weekend and hopefully will spark a new era of diversifying the portrayal of superheroes.

Black Panther focuses on T’Challa, the newly enthroned king of Wakanda, an advanced technological society, and how he doubles as the hero Black Panther, who is forced to take on the ruthless Killmonger (played by Michael B. Jordan), who has a mission of revenge. In his own way, Black Panther also is combating the forces of colonialism and racism, and given February is Black History Month, the film’s release is timely and relevant, almost serving as the final cherry on top when it comes to appreciating the accolades of black individuals over the course of history.

The characters, as written, directed and acted, are strong, powerful and smart. The movie not only focuses on breaking racial barriers (the cast and characters are primarily African-American, in contrast to past Marvel movies), but it sheds light on other important ideas, touching on environmental and gender issues. Some are calling it an anti-Donald Trump tale. Female leads Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira are empowering characters to women as well, depicted as smart and strong warriors. The graphics are stunning, and the storyline seemed to seamlessly connect with everyone in the audience who sat around me.

It’s easy to see why this movie has broken box office records, as it offers hope for a nation in time when we may need it the most. On its simplest, superhero-movie scale, Black Panther might serve as the perfect treat to end a stressful week. And as tempting as it may be, please do not try to pull off any epic backflips off any moving vehicles after leaving the theater.

Black Panther is rated PG-13 and runs 134 minutes. It screens in 3-D and 2-D at Regal Stadium 14 and the Violet Crown in Santa Fe.

Sakara Griffin is a senior at Santa Fe High School. Contact her at sakara8823@gmail.com.