Breaking box-office and various records world-wide, Black Panther is surely in contention to become THE movie of 2018. The first African themed superhero release in the Marvel Cinematic universe. It follows the story of T’Challa, who after his father’s death takes over as King of Wakanda, a fictional Kingdom which is rich in vibranium. With brilliant acting, a powerful, compelling storyline and amazing cinematography, it has what it takes to become the box-office hit of the year.
But a huge high five goes to the way women are positively portrayed in the movie. Traditionally when women are cast in movies they usually fall in the category of damsel in distress. This is usually the role where the female character falls into trouble and waits for the handsome male lead to save her. Or they are cast as the sexy, eye candy chick who helps the lead actor, but is void of a significant storyline, and is really just there to showcase her looks for the screen. But, that’s not the case in Blank Panther…
For starters, T’Challa’s love interest Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong’o is totally different. She does not need any saving, as she herself is a skilled warrior. A former Dora Milage member, she is now a spy for Wakanda, and loyally serves the Kingdom and her King. She helps T’Challa throughout the movie and is a real side kick, who sticks with him till the end, even when things get tough.
The Dora Milaje, is an army of beautiful, powerfully skilled women assembled from 18 tribes in Wakanda who are entrusted with the role of protecting the King. When I say powerful, I don’t mean in the juju sort of way many might think, but rather skilled soldiers who can give anyone a run for their money in the battle field.
The army is lead by Okoye, whose role is played by Zimbabwe’s very own Danai Gurira. Her character in the movie only comes second to the Black Panther himself, in terms of prowess and skills. What makes Black Panther different from so many other Hollywood movies is the way women control the flow of the story, they are not just cast as eye candy but actually have pivotal roles to play.
Blank Panther also smashes the stereotypical kind of beauty enthroned on us by the Western world. When you think of beauty you usually think of a woman with long soft hair, thin noses, Persian like eyes, light skin and so on, but the Dora Milage is an ensemble of beautiful bald headed women representing every shade of skin color Africa has. This portrayal is quite significant in the way people view African women, it shows the world a different kind of beauty. Our own African beauty.
Shuri, played by American actress, Letitia Wright is T’Challa’s little sister. She is a genius whose inventions help her brother and country defeat evil forces. Besides that, she also makes sure to join in the action, helping the Black Panther and the Dola Milage on the battlefield.
And of course bringing in a motherly touch, and giving advice to her beloved son is the Queen Mother of Wakanda, Ramonda, played by Angela Basset. Her advice plays an important part in T’ Challa’s decision making for the Kingdom.
This is probably one of the few movies, African women and the whole continent are cast in a positive light at such a massive grand stage in the entertainment industry, and we look forward to many more such movies.
By Chipo Kakora