Welcome back to another edition of Flip or Flick! For this week’s blog, I am discussing Ryan Coogler’s 2018 film Black Panther and the graphic novel Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet: Book One by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze.
The graphic novel by award-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates tells the story of King T’Challa navigating the politics of war-torn Wakanda where citizens have turned against the monarchy. Vigilantes and shaman leaders instigate chaos among the people and T’Challa struggles to face his own insecurities as a leader. The 2018 hit film by Marvel Studios stars the late Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa. Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole’s screenplay loosely follows some of the themes in the 2018 graphic novel, but largely tells a story all its own. Themes of loyalty, family, ethical political leadership, and colonialism are apparent in both stories but even more so in the film.
A key difference between the text and the film is that the main villain in the film Erik Killmonger (portrayed by Michael B. Jordan) is not in the novel. Instead, two shamans named Tetu and Zenzi are the characters who are instigating an uprising against the king. The female warrior tribe of the Dora Milaje is present in both adaptations, however, they are characterized very differently. It is important to note that Princess Shuri, the spunky younger sister of King T’Challa in the film, has died when the graphic novel begins. She is Queen Shuri, and her death seems to be one of T’Challa’s biggest regrets as King.
So, Flip or Flick?
FLICK! Chadwick Boseman’s performance in this film is absolutely captivating. Watching it after his passing gives new meaning to his regal words and the legacy he constructs on and offscreen. The eclectic graphic novel is powerful in its own right, but it simply does not pack the same emotional punch as Coogler’s adaptation. This film ushered in a new era for Marvel films with a more diverse cast and content. The story is incredibly engaging and deviates just enough from the typical superhero movie conventions to shock and inspire audiences. Vibrant colors and an incredible soundtrack produced by Kendrick Lamar bring this afro-futuristic film to life.
You can stream Black Panther today via Falvey Library using this link.
Anna Jankowski ’23 CLAS is a Senior Communication Major from just outside Baltimore who works as a Communication & Marketing Assistant at Falvey Library.