Black Panther is much more than a superhero movie

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A visitor checks out a Lexus car, similar to a one used in the Black Panther film, that is on display outside an invitation-only screening, at the King Abdullah Financial District Theater, in Riyadh, on April 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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A visitor checks out a Lexus car, similar to a one used in the Black Panther film, that is on display outside an invitation-only screening, at the King Abdullah Financial District Theater, in Riyadh, on April 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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An actor poses with a replica of a vintage cinema camera as visitors enter an invitation-only screening, at the King Abdullah Financial District Theater, in Riyadh,on April 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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Moviegoers wait to attend an invitation-only screening, at the King Abdullah Financial District Theater, in Riyadh, on April 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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A Saudi man poses for a photograph during a cinema test screening in Riyadh on April 18, 2018. (AFP / Fayez Nureldine)
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A Saudi arrives to attend a cinema test screening in Riyadh on April 18, 2018. Blockbuster action flick "Black Panther" play at a cinema test screening in Saudi Arabia on April 18, the first in a series of trial runs before movie theatres open to the wider public next month. (AFP / Fayez Nureldine)
Updated 18 April 2018

Black Panther is much more than a superhero movie

  • The young king’s name in the movie is T’Challa, who rules the fictional African nation of Wakanda, a land that has has unmatched wealth, technological development and prosperity.
  • To protect itself, the rulers of the country have always kept the country’s greatness a secret, refusing to open its borders, engage in either war or humanitarian efforts

DUBAI: Black Panther may be a Marvel superhero movie, but it’s hard to describe the story without it sounding darn-near Shakespearean. A young king takes the throne after his father’s tragic death. When he finds out the truth about his father’s legacy, and the mistakes his father made as a leader, he must grapple with the fate of his country—keeping it out of the hands of a charismatic and dangerous man who arrives to take the throne and change its direction.
The young king’s name is T’Challa, and he rules the fictional African nation of Wakanda, a land that has, due to a special natural resource found only there, has unmatched wealth, technological development and prosperity. To protect itself, the rulers of the country have always kept the country’s greatness a secret, refusing to open its borders, engage in either war or humanitarian efforts.
What makes Black Panther so potent is the question T’Challa is faced with — what is a powerful country’s role in the world? — has no easy answers. Even better, the film’s central antagonist, Killmonger, who arrives in Wakanda to change the country into a direct interventionist, makes thought-provoking points of his own, as the best villains do, forcing T’Challa to consider a different path forward.
There are many reasons why Black Panther became a global phenomenon. As the first Marvel superhero film to feature a predominantly black cast from a young black director, it showed audiences something they’d never seen before. That representation will mean so much to communities that Hollywood has traditionally underrepresented, and to young viewers looking up at the screen to see a hero that looks like them, across the world.
What will make this film resonate is that, while providing plenty of action spectacle, beautiful stars, art direction, costumes and superheroism, it is a film with a lot on its mind, asking many questions about how the world should approach its future, and how it should reckon with the many sins of its past.
While the film doesn’t provide enough satisfying answers, the debates it has sparked, and will continue to spark, are what make it an essential film, especially in a country embarking on a new future, and asking these same questions itself.


Hana Abdullah Alomair, Saudi film director

Updated 30 May 2020

Hana Abdullah Alomair, Saudi film director

Hana Abdullah Alomair is the director of Netflix’s first Saudi thriller original series, titled “Whispers,” which is due to begin streaming in 190 countries on June 11. 

A Saudi writer, filmmaker, and movie critic, Alomair won the Silver Palm Tree Award for best script at the Saudi Film Competition in 2008.

She gained a bachelor’s degree in Arabic-English translation from King Saud University in 1992 and four years later a master’s degree in the same field of study from Heriot-Watt University, in Scotland.

Her documentary “Beyond Words” was screened during the Gulf Film Festival in 2019 and was selected for the main competition in this year’s Muscat International Film Festival.

A member of the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts, she has worked as a head writer in writing workshops for several TV series. She was a jury member at the Saudi Film Festival held by Rotana in 2013. Her second
flick, “The Complaint,” was selected in the main competition of Tessa’s Festival for Asian and African Films in Morocco in 2014 and it won the Golden Palm
Tree Award for best short fiction film in the Saudi Film Competition in 2015.

In 2016, Alomair, together with Hind Al-Fahhad, scooped the prize for best script for the short film “Peddlers” at the King Fahd Center Short Film Competition.

She recently published a book about the Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa, and in 2017 wrote a play called “Qat Oqat.”

Last year, she wrote and directed her latest short film “Swan Song,” which won the Golden Palm Tree Award for best actor in the Saudi Film Festival.