Political Themes and Crafting the Sympathetic Villain of Black Panther

The fact that Black Panther is the first black solo hero movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, features a predominately black cast, and written and directed by black men was always going to be statement. That would have been enough, but they chose to use this platform to lean into a theme. Screenwriter Joe Robert Cole spoke to Screen Crush about how he and director Ryan Coogler decided to approach the story.

We started writing it I guess a year and a half ago. There's a dynamic between African Americans and Africans that we wanted to explore and try to figure out how to navigate in a personal way. That was one of the things that our early discussions and throughout, that we were trying to calibrate and figure out within the parameters of the story. So we didn't know per say, that at this moment in time where there's a heightened awareness of some of these things [it] would exist, but I think the issues brought us to want to tackle the kind of, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Some of the thematic issues that were approached or dealt with in the movie in terms of race, those things are not new, those things are centuries old. So the moment that we're landing, happens to be a very heightened moment, which I think is awesome.

Political Themes and Crafting the Sympathetic Villain of Black Panther

The Marvel movies have had a villain problem for quite a few movies, but that is not the case for Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger. Cole talked about how he crafted Killmonger and made him one of the most sympathetic villains in a long time despite the ridiculous last name.

Yeah. I think the best villains are ones that have a strong point of view, a point of view that people can relate to and even agree with. With Killmonger, it's not necessarily the point of view, but how far you take it that crosses over in the territory of villain. He's acting from a place of pain. And by the end of the movie, I think T'Challa ends up at the same place that he does, but acting out of empathy.

To get into what actually happens at the end of the movie is definitely a spoiler, but know that Coogler and Cole crafted an excellent villain for T'Challa to go against. They don't pull their punches with their message, and they assume that the audience is smart enough to follow along. It's a fantastic screenplay that deserves the praise it's getting.

Summary: T'Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.

Black Panther, directed Ryan Coogler, stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, and Martin Freeman. It will be released on February 16th.

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About Kaitlyn Booth

Kaitlyn is the Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. She loves movies, television, and comics. She's a member of the UFCA and the GALECA. Feminist. Writer. Nerd. Follow her on twitter @katiesmovies and @safaiagem on instagram. She's also a co-host at The Nerd Dome Podcast. Listen to it at http://www.nerddomepodcast.com
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