Our bodies and souls are so, so ready for the new Marvel film adaptation of Black Panther. We've watched the trailer at least a dozen times already, and are eagerly counting down the days until we get to enter the fictional world of Wakanda.
Black Panther also stars a who's-who of actors in Hollywood. Forest Whitaker, Daniel Kaluuya, and Angela Bassett? The talent in this movie alone is astounding. But fellow star Lupita Nyong'o gives us another reason to be completely stoked on this film: it does away with the trope of petty female infighting.
"[Director and screenwriter] Ryan [Coogler] made a point of avoiding the expected female-rival narrative," Nyong'o told Teen Vogue. "In this genre, where spandex is involved, oftentimes the women are pitted against each other. In our story, there are so many different women holding their own space. Women may be in competition with each other, sure, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s an absence of love or respect."
Nyong'o plays Nakia, a skilled fighter and love interest for T'Challa, the Black Panther. Newcomer Letitia Wright plays Shuri, the Black Panther's sister and brains behind Wakanda. Nyong'o stressed that while these fierce characters may have their disagreements, they don't engage in the kind of petty word-swiping that brings down a lot of other similar movies."You see them work together, and you see a dynamic that is really encouraging," said Nyong'o. "Making this film awakened me. I walked away from this experience feeling extremely supported, and I felt challenged."
If this role challenged Oscar-winning Nyong'o, it's safe to say that it is a seriously powerful movie. Superhero movies are, as she describes it, "our modern folklore," and folklore tells us a lot about who and what we value as a culture. These stories reflect the things we care about most, and when superhero movies take the time to do away with outdated tropes, we're better off for it. At the end of the day, these movies make a lot of money because a lot of people see them, and people deserve to see characters and situations that look a lot more like themselves and their relationships. Women deserve to see ourselves treating each other with the dignity and respect that we do in our everyday lives.