Female power in “Black Panther”

The new generation of action movies feature strong women

Jill Morton, Opinion Columnist

The film “Black Panther” premiered in theaters just a week ago and has since dominated the box office and the hearts of fans everywhere. In this Marvel superhero movie, a king moonlights as the Black Panther and fights crime primarily in his home country of Wakanda. 

The movie broke tons of records,  such as having the fifth highest opening for a film of all time according to Vanity Fair.  

The shocking thing is that even though the main character of the story is a male, a lot of the action and fighting is actually done by the three secondary female characters.  

In recent years, there have been tons of movies with female leads or at least powerful female roles. A few examples of films that include them are “Star Wars,” the “Hunger Games” and “Wonder Woman.” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is the third highest grossing movie of all time and it has a female lead.  

A lot of people used to say that nobody would want to watch an action movie about a girl. Apparently that’s not the case anymore. Women can be just as tough as men in these action blockbusters.  

One great thing that the “Black Panther” and “Wonder Woman” do well is how they represent women. The women in these films are warriors, not like the sexual objects that they are reduced to in a lot of movies. When “Wonder Woman” first came out, I remember seeing an article that talked about how the costumes were based off traditional Roman armor as opposed to lingerie. In her film, “Wonder Woman” is wearing a suit of armor, not just fancy underwear, which is very different than what has seemed to become the norm. 

Right at the beginning of “Black Panther,” the Black Panther goes on a little rescue mission for his love interest. He’s fighting all the bad guys with ease until he sees his girl and then freezes. As soon as this happens, his second in command, a woman, comes to the rescue and finishes fighting off the rest of the bad guys by herself while he’s still standing there immobilized by his girl’s  captivating beauty. 

This is a great scene because it sets the tone for the whole movie. In the two hour film, we see over and over again the women saving the men or, at the very least, fighting alongside them.  

“Star Wars” is another great example of how a film can empower women. At the end of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” we see a young woman, Rey, fighting a nemesis, Kylo Ren, all by herself. Decades ago, this would not have been written and featured in a movie. 

As a female, it’s pretty satisfying to see these tough women fight for what they believe in. When I was little, I saw a lot of movies about princesses always waiting for their prince to save them. That can be a bad idea to introduce to young girls. 

If a little girl only ever sees ladies on TV as damsels in distresses who do nothing but wait for some handsome main character to come and save her, why would she think there are any other options for her when she grows up? I grew up watching Disney princesses like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White who sang and snoozed around until a random guy they’ve never met sweeps them off their feet and whisks them away to a fictional happily-ever-after. Pretty weird if you think about it.  

It is such a breath of fresh air to see strong women who are the new heroes that everyone looks up to. After being awed by the moves and integrity of the women of Wakanda, I can’t wait to watch even more female-led action movies in the coming years. 

Jill Morton is a columnist for Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].