Emotional Courage Found Within the Black Panther


An individual who changes their identity has gone through personal development and who shows signs of maturity has encountered emotional courage. They are the people who are determined to fight for a cause that is greater than themselves and in return, have the ability to change fate and the world. These foundations of emotional courage all occur within the movie, Black Panther, where our main character T’Challa and main antagonist Killmonger both face problems of separation mentally, physically, and spiritually. Black Panther is a film where it demonstrates how an individual using their emotions and determination can change society within a matter of minutes. It shows us themes like what the West’s views on Africa are like, people challenging the power structures of Wakanda, and how old traditions are in conflict everyday change. T’Challa and Killmonger almost share the same emotional courage as they both had similar events take place like the deaths of their father, wanting to change the old traditions of Wakanda, and how T’Challa’s character development inevitably beats Killmonger during their final confrontation. 


One of the themes we meet as we watch the movie is the death of fathers or the absences of them. Both T’Challa and Killmonger have lost their fathers from unnatural causes as they were both murdered. Near the beginning of the movie it introduces us to the main topic about an individual experiencing separation, it tells us that T’Challa’s father, T’Chaka had died from a terrorist attack and T’Challa will be crowned as the new King of Wakanda. When we encounter Killmonger's story, his father N’Jobu was murdered by his own brother and T’Challa’s father T’Chaka. They both experienced a separation of their father, but the difference is how and when they were killed. T’Challa grows up with his father, he is shown his father's guidance and knowledge while also experiencing parental care like love, care, and discipline. As T’Chaka said “A man who has not prepared his children for his own death has failed as a father”, insinuating that even though he had unwillingly left T’Challa, he did not leave him unprepared for his new role as King of Wakanda and as the Black Panther, the protector of Wakanda. However, unlike T’Challa, Killmonger is the complete opposite. His father, N’Jobu left Killmonger at an early stage in his life. Killmonger was forced to face life alone without the parental care and guidance like T’Challa did. T’Chaka left his son ready to face life after he had left but N'Jobu died before he even could aid his son. Even then T’Challa is not really left alone as he still has his family and recently met his father in the ancestral plane after a few days of his father's death while Killmonger has nobody that cares for him. These events eventually led Killmonger to T’Challa, confronting him for the title of King through ritual combat, and overpowering him. Killmonger's emotional courage lets him beat T’Challa because he had worked hard to get where he is now and wants to complete his father's original mission, to liberate black people's oppression in western society and let black people rise above others.


Throughout T'Challa's journey, we learn that there people who want to change in Wakandan tradition. It is first introduced when M’Baku enters ritual combat against T’Challa to gain the chance to become the King. He claims that technological advancement has changed Wakanda in such a drastic way that it sickens him. M’Baku challenges T’Challa because he believes that he is not fit to become King as he says “And now you want to hand the nation over to this prince who could not keep his own father safe.” When Killmonger first fights T’Challa, he wants to change the old ways of Wakanda by spreading vibranium weapons all over the world in order to liberate black operation. By doing this, Killmonger would expose Wakanda’s secret of being a technologically advanced country that runs off of vibranium. Another character, W'Kabi the border tribe leader and a trusted friend of T’Challa soon betrayed him because he wanted to see changes within Wakanda. These examples show us that T’Challa is currently blinded by following his father's footsteps of protecting Wakanda by not helping the world and concealing themselves in plain sight. T’Challa, the King of Wakanda is separated from his own country because he could not see what the problems Wakanda faced until he was beaten by Killmonger through ritual combat and brought back to the ancestral plane for the second time. There T’Challa confronted his father and his ancestors asking why they turned their backs on the whole world, claiming that fear had blinded them and that in return blinded himself as well. T’Challa finally faces the emotional courage to change Wakanda and the world for the better through character growth and development because of the separation he found between him and the world. But for Killmonger, the plot is different from him. When Killmonger ascends to the ancestral planes, he is not where the previous ancestors are but instead is found in his father's apartment. He encounters his father, N’Jobu when he looks over his notes about Wakanda. N’Jobu asks his son if there would be any shed of tears for him but he responded with “People die every day. That's just part of life around here” telling us that Killmonger has chosen this way of life and cannot come back anymore. He is in a different place from his ancestors, lost and abandoned in his father's apartment, separated from the world and his ancestors. 


After T’Challa’s confrontation with his father and ancestors, his personality had grown stronger because he had found the emotional courage to rise up and claim back the throne of Wakanda. If he lets Killmonger gain control over Wakanda, he will wreak havoc across the world because to him, only the strong survive. He believes in survival of the fittest system which defines his emotional drive to see the world burn. But now that T’Challa has found his calling, we come back to Wakanda and challenges Killmonger again to the sake of Wakanda and the world. T’Challa’s emotional courage helped him beat Killmonger because he wanted to fix the wrongs he, his father, and his ancestors had done to both Wakanda and the world. This emotional drive ultimately leads towards the death of Killmonger because even though he too had the emotional drive to get his revenge on the world, he could not let go of the actions done to him in the past. T’Challa wants to make the world a better place by being true to himself even though he could risk getting backlash around the world and by making the harder decisions whether his options are easy to choose or not. At the end when Killmonger is slowly dying T’Challa offers him aid but he refuses because as he says “Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, 'cause they knew death was better than bondage.” Even when facing his last moments in life he stays true to himself and his ideals.  In the end, T’Challa won because he attempts to write the wrongs done in the past. He is an individual who changed himself for the better of the world and Wakanda while staying true to himself. Killmonger lost because he didn’t change himself to better anyone else but himself. While he did find the emotional drive to fight, he did not find true emotional courage to beat T’Challa. This is evident because when he went up to the ancestral plane, he was back where he started. He was lost and unable to be found, separated from everything. In a way, T’Challa also was separated from everyone else before his character arc as he blindly followed what others did before him. T’Challa’s emotional courage is guided by his experience of separation. Not being connected to his people and Wakanda and following others instead of being true to yourself let T’Challa learn his past mistakes and grow as a person. However, Killmonger does not change as a character during this movie. He stays true to himself but in a selfish manner where he only does what he does out of hatred for the world taking what he loved.