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28635045805_a6a328b34e_b (1)It is not often that a movie is surrounded by so much hype before it is even released. Marvel’s “Black Panther,” however, has been discussed almost non-stop since it was announced in 2014.

“Black Panther” is the eighteenth movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is directed by Ryan Coogler with Coogler and Joe Robert Cole writing the screenplay. The film takes place shortly after the events of the blockbuster “Captain America: Civil War,” and the story centers on the young king of Wakanda, T’Challa, who takes the throne after his father’s death in “Civil War.” As no tale of royalty is complete without palace intrigue, T’Challa faces an old enemy who seeks to challenge T’Challa’s claim to the throne. T’Challa, his younger sisterand the elite female warriors of the Dora Milaje must work together to prevent a world war.

The movie has been hailed as a cultural milestone almost since its inception. “Black Panther” has an almost all-black cast and is set in the fictional country of Wakanda, an advanced but ruthlessly isolationist African country. The film stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, whose alter ego is the titular Black Panther. He is joined by Michael B. Jordan who plays Killmonger, Danai Gurira as the leader of the Dora Milage and Letitia Wright as T’Challa’s younger sister and genius level inventor, Shuri.

The cast and crew alike have been outspoken about the role in culture that they hope the film will hold. “It couldn’t have been done on a bigger level,” said Jordan. “If Marvel is behind it, then it’s got to be okay. Moving forward, everybody’s going to start to have the courage to tell bold stories that people didn’t think were lucrative, didn’t think that anybody wanted to see. All of that, I feel, is getting ready to dissolve.”

Gurira agreed. “I’ve had a passion for telling African stories for a really long time, being American-born and Zimbabwe-raised. That biculturalism is something that I try to address in my work as a playwright, but nothing can address it like a Marvel movie,” she said. “I had a childlike glee after my meeting with Ryan. I kind of floated around, found my car somehow. You think you’re alone in the struggle until you meet someone and then you think, ‘Oh, wow, we’re all in it together? And y’all are doing this already? And I just have to be in it?’ It was just so beautiful.”

“Black Panther” opens on Thursday, February 18, 2018, and ticket pre-sales are already off the charts. The film is facing a lot of pressure from excited fans, and Marvel’s past success have set a high bar. The studio has risen to the challenge before, however, and one can only hope they do so again.

 

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