Comic books originated in 18th Century Japan, but really came into their own after they gained popularity in the United States of America from the 1930s. This form of literature, which comprises art juxtaposed with text and speech bubbles, creates a flowing narrative for the reader.

The 1930s is when superheroes became popular in comic books with characters like Superman and Captain Marvel.

The fame of the former would spawn a whole generation of other superheroes with various abilities, often fighting super villains in a good vs evil manner.

From the 1940s, following the success of the comic books, a number of the characters were to then grace the silver screen. This turned out to be a great move and birthed a number of incredible films.

Now, on to “Black Panther”.

The character was created in 1966 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. He was introduced to the MCU in “Captain America Civil War” and since then fans have been waiting for the “Black Panther” solo project and will not be disappointed.

Without giving too much away, the film is about T’Challa becoming the king of the fictional African country Wakanda, that was never colonised.

The country has advanced technology after a meteor hit and they managed to manipulate a rare metal known as vibranium. They shut themselves off to the world as they did not want their precious resource or expertise getting into the wrong hands.

Following the death of his father T’Chaka, as the new king, T’Challa, faces a conflict, both internal and external of standing by the traditions of his country and protecting his people as the Black Panther or opening up to the world.

The film, directed by Ryan Coogler is absolutely incredible.

It stars a primarily all black cast of mixed nationalities, American, African and Caribbean. The film deals with themes that are easily related to black audiences. It speaks on family issues, it touches colonialism, the Diaspora, culture and tradition vs modernity and globalisation.

In their portrayal of Africa, the filmmakers did their research and created a culture that was believable and did not come across as a gimmick. They incorporated elements from actual African tribes like the Sotho and the OvaHimba.

The cast, including Zimbabwean actress, Danai Gurira, who plays Okoye, the General of Wakanda’s army did an incredible job of balancing the serious issues that the film dealt with without making them heavy.

To achieve this, the film was interspersed with lighter moments such as those brought by Letitia Wright’s character Shuri, who was for me the stand out star.

One of the important takeaways is that it imagines an African country that developed untouched by colonial influence. Wakanda, according to Chadwick Boseman, who plays Black Panther, is inspired by the Mutapa Empire, which was centred at Great Zimbabwe, but spread to parts of modern day South Africa, Zambia, Botswana and Mozambique.

Although it is a fictional movie, there is a lot for black people world over to feel proud of about and learn from the film.

by Chris Charamba – The Herald