Few comic book movies have made quite the impact that Black Panther made last year for Marvel Studios. It wasn't just a movie that crossed the $1 billion dollar mark at the box office, and it wasn't just an action-packed battle royale like the Avengers films. Black Panther is a deep character study into oppression in Africa and how it resonates with the outside world. Most importantly, it prided itself on substance over style as it delivered a huge cultural message for society.
Which is why it's become the first superhero film to be nominated for the Best Picture award at the upcoming 91st Academy Awards next month, a historic achievement in itself. Now, many critics and fans, as they love what director Ryan Coogler did, wouldn't challenge the nomination, but we actually think there are just as many pros as there are cons regarding why the rise of Chadwick Boseman's King T'Challa should take home the win.
Now, we can all agree it'll be a surprise if Black Panther does end up copping Best Picture, but you can't deny it doesn't deserve it. It has a 97 percent Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and the critical acclaim across the board has been monumental. Everyone in the industry, including other actors and studios, stood up and took note.
The script from Coogler and Joe Robert Cole had an emotional heft and depth to it like no other comic book movie had, which isn't even a knock on the genre. We've got cerebral films like The Dark Knight (which won the Best Supporting Actor award for Heath Ledger's performance in 2009) and deep dives into politics, like Zack Snyder's Watchmen. But Black Panther was more than a fallen king fighting back against a tyrant like Michael B. Jordan's Erik Killmonger.
It represented black people coming out to the world, the magic of a continent and true change. It became a vehicle for social justice in an era where racial tensions and prejudice are at an all-time high. It felt like an extension of the Black Lives Matter movement, sinking its teeth into Hollywood and reminding the entertainment industry that it's not just about black people, but people of color on the whole. #WakandaForever became a platform, a movement, a campaign for inclusivity and diversity. That extended behind the cameras, as Coogler ensured that, behind-the-scenes, things would be handled by people of color.
In a time where the majority of superheroes are white, there isn't a Blade film to latch onto, and the other black characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are merely supporting characters, such as Anthony Mackie's Falcon and Don Cheadle's War Machine. Black Panther as a superhero, however, was front and center, engaging us, causing a stir, provoking discussions about slavery and colonization, and how those things have rippled throughout society for years. In fact, the film was so powerful that Killmonger's speech at the end about wanting to be buried at sea with his forefathers after he failed to liberate oppressed countries left us all thinking of him less as a villain and more as a rebel we sympathize with and relate to.