Black Panther is an action packed Marvel Movie about how a new king, T’Challa, must learn how to take care of his people of Wakanda without his father by his side. In a twist of fate T’challa’s long lost cousin, Erik Killmonger, appears and takes the throne from him after taking part in the ritual of fighting for the kingdom. The movie is then based around T’challa trying to win back his rightful place as king in Wakanda. Upon watching the movie, the audience is quickly able to identify that a multitude of international relation content lies in this film. In Black Panther, the author and filmmakers focus on the theories of international relations including Defensive Realism, Offensive Realism, and Liberalism.
Wakanda is a very powerful country that has the incredible resource, vibranium, that causes the country to have a plethora of technological advancements. The ancestors of Wakanda have always embodied a realist perspective to preserve their own countries stability. In a realist perspective, the people believe that they should focus on the needs of their people rather than cooperate with other countries for common goals. The people of Wakanda emulated that by never broadcasting their resources in fear that other countries would try and conquer them and end their lavish lifestyles. Looking deeper into the realist theory, you are able to then identify that the people of this country follow the defensive realistic perspective. Defensive realism is the policy of restraint, where the state tries to avoid war so that there is less fear of unintended or uncontrollable counterproductive war. This is highlighted in the movie because Everett K. Ross, a CIA agent in the U.S.A. thought that Wakanda was a poor African country before being transported there for medical reasons. This highlights their use of defensive realism because obviously the country does not use force to show their military power since other countries believe that it is poor and weak. This obviously lessen the fear of counterproductive war because other countries do not believe that they are a threat that has to be countered to avoid a hegemon.
Erik Killmonger is the son of the late king’s brother. He fights to take over Wakanda because he believes that it is unfair that African Americans have been oppressed while Wakanda had the ability to liberate them. He has this perspective because he grew up in California after his father was killed and no one returned him to his father’s home country so he witnessed the horrors of racism. Although Erik Killmonger believes that he wants to liberate the African Americans around the world from racism, his actions speak louder than words and his are quite different than his proposed reasoning behind it. In the movie he says that he wants to share the treasures of Wakanda with the world, however he would be a fraction as selfish and violent if that were true. Like the previous people of Wakanda, he is most closely related to a Realist however, instead of being defensive, Killmonger is offensive. Offensive Realism is the belief that military force should be used to maintain a powerful reputation to others and their countries because the main goal of a Realist is power. He is an offensive Realist in the fact that it is quite obvious that he believes in the use of force to accomplish his goals. This is demonstrated by having the people of Wakanda fight each other to remain the king and it is easy to infer that he would do the same to countries all around the world. He exuberates the Realist approach by believing in being the unitary actor or Hegemon of the world. A unitary actor or hegemon is where one state has the power to defeat all the other states and is the only dominant power. He exposes this goal by trying to kill all the flowers that will give other kings the power of the black panther.. It is quite clear that he had no intention of aiding other countries because even though his reign was brief, he never exhibited empathy towards anyone and although he was trying to send technology to other countries, his intentions were never for anything but his own personal gain.
On the other hand, by the end of the movie T’Challa with the help of his companion Nakia, demonstrates a Liberalist point of view. A Liberal believes in the cooperation between states to accomplish common goals and to aid others especially concerning human rights. In the final scene of the movie, T’Challa mirrors this viewpoint by telling his sister that in the future Wakanda will no longer be isolated and will share their resources to help improve the lives of others from different countries. T’Challa also exhibits the beliefs of a Liberal because in the end credits scene, he is talking to the UN about how the country of Wakanda will help aid them and no longer be in the shadows. This demonstrates Liberal theory because Liberals believe that international institutions are the key to peace and by joining the UN, one of the most renowned institutions, Wakanda is willing to cooperate and help build these institutions stronger.
In conclusion Black Panther had a plethora of international relation connections that not only made the movie more intelligent but also made it more engaging. It improved the movie because not only were T’Challa and Erik Killmonger fighting for the throne, they were also fighting for their countries future actions. This is because as explained above, they had two very different theories that they believed in which means that if one took control of the country, the other would disagree with an abundance of the decisions and actions that the country would take part in. International relations can teach a person about how and why individuals and countries act in certain ways so by learning about these motives and beliefs, a person will be able to better grasp the reasoning behind their actions. This movie may not have been real life, but the theories and concepts it has embedded in the plot can teach the audience about the world around them.
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