“Black Panther”, one of the most highly anticipated superhero movies of all time, was extremely successful during its opening weekend, especially among San Luis Obispo High School students. Due to its star-studded cast, political undertones, and nonstop action, many students have deemed this Marvel movie one of their favorites. Expressions interviewed some of these students to understand what specifically drew them to this film.
Expressions: How did you first hear about the film?
Senior Nate Higgins: I’ve been hyped about this movie for months. I’m pretty sure I read about it first on Twitter.
Senior Rutik Shinglot: Twitter really does a good job at hyping up movies; this one seemed different from most Marvel movies.
Senior Luca Zovich: I’ve been waiting for “Black Panther” ever since I heard that the character was going to be in “Captain America: Civil War”.
Expressions: Do you think the movie over delivered or simply met expectations?
Higgins: I was pleasantly surprised at how they were able to make their statement while still being an entertaining superhero movie, so I guess I would say they exceeded expectations.
Shinglot: Obviously, I expected a political statement within the movie, but the way they delivered it was remarkable and I was very impressed.
Zovich: Yes, the movie surpassed almost all expectations.
Expressions: How did this movie differ from past Marvel films?
Zovich: The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been releasing a lot of movies with superhero team-ups recently, so it was nice to watch a comic book movie based on only one character. However, while “Black Panther” was a nice relief from the constant mashups, it was more than just a solo movie: it didn’t provide so much as a backstory but expanded on the background of the Black Panther. The movie spent a lot of time providing a richly detailed world through with the plot could flow, and the addition of Wakanda to the MCU added a nice depth of sorts. Also, the character of Erik Killmonger (played by Michael B. Jordan) was by far the best character written and delivered.
Expressions: Who was your favorite character in the movie?
Higgins: I thought Killmonger was a really cool villain because it was easy to see his side and he actually brought up a lot of good points.
Shinglot: Erik Killmonger.
Zovich: I would have to stick with the Black Panther himself being my favorite character, just because of how awesome of a superhero he is, but I would definitely say that the best character would be the villain, Erik Killmonger.
Expressions: Do you feel that the villain Killmonger was different in tone than past Marvel villains?
Shinglot: He certainly was more relatable and more of an anti-hero than a villain. His intentions were very realistic and pure, but his childhood and upbringing corrupted the way he went about getting his goal.
Zovich: Absolutely. Not only was he incredibly well written, the acting job by Michael B. Jordan was very impressive. Furthermore, he is the MCU’s first truly relatable villain. While almost anyone would disagree with his methods, his message and purpose was haunting and thought-provoking. I was thoroughly impressed with Black Panther’s villain.
Expressions: Do you think that the film’s political undertones enhance or detract from the movie?
Higgins: I think that the political statements were the most important part of the movie; from the racial aspects to the idea of isolationism and whether successful countries should focus on themselves or show interest in helping to improve the rest of the world. I think that the struggle to find clarity in a world of gray raised questions that could be thought provoking to any audience.
Zovich: I remember discussing this with some friends. There was a multitude of blatant comments on political and social injustices throughout our world’s history, and while they were delivered in a humorous and comfortable way, the truths behind each one were sometimes heartbreaking. They were delivered throughout the dialogue in a respectful manner, so as to not distract from the flow of the story, but I would say that a few of the more powerful images that they brought forth only enhanced the message of the villain and the conflicts throughout the movie.
Expressions: What do you think this movie will be remembered for?
Higgins: Being the first popular superhero movie with a mostly black cast.
Shinglot: While the all black cast and cultural references were memorable, this movie will be remembered as being able to appeal to a younger audience with a super hero while incorporating a very deep message about globalization which an older audience can appreciate. The balance between appealing to the inner eight year old in me and the intellectual is done very well.
Zovich: I think this movie will mostly be remembered for being the first widely successful superhero film involving an almost all black cast (the “Blade” trilogy wasn’t nearly as successful). Its message struck true with many social and political conflicts that are happening today, and it had a glorious amount of elements derived from real African cultures. Chadwick Boseman was a great lead and played the character perfectly. Director Ryan Coogler has created a wonderful addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and deserves to be widely celebrated for his accomplishment with this movie. Finally, Michael B. Jordan’s performance has Erik Killmonger will forever be one for the books.