Black Panther continues on from the end of Captain America: Civil War. T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) is the son of the King of Wakanda, a seemingly third-world African nation. When his father dies, T’Challa returns to Wakanda, which has a closely guarded secret. Although it seems underdeveloped, the country is actually the most technologically advanced in the world and has an unlimited supply of the priceless metal Vibranium, which powers its technology. T’Challa’s coronation takes place, but not without incident, because a rival chieftain named M’Baku (Winston Duke) challenges T’Challa for the throne.
Following his coronation, T’Challa goes to America. He has received information about the infamous arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), whom the Wakandans have been trying to capture for 20 years. The information reveals that Klaue, along with a ruthless and dangerous ally named Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), killed several people during a robbery in which they stole a priceless African mask made of Vibranium. T’Challa and Wakandan General O’Koye (Danai Gurira) capture and arrest Klaue. But Klaue escapes from jail in a daring raid, during which CIA operative Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) is shot in the back. T’Challa takes Ross back to Wakanda to be healed with Vibranium-powered technology.
Life becomes even more complicated for T’Challa when Killmonger arrives to challenge him for the throne. This has dire consequences.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Superheroes; civil war; child soldiers; revenge and betrayal
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
Black Panther has extended scenes of intense action violence, some of which is brutal. It also shows property destruction, many violent deaths, ritual violence and self-mutilation. For example:
- Several kidnapped women are huddled together in the back of an army truck, which is part of a convoy. Black Panther attacks the convoy and fights the guards with superpowers. Bullets ricochet off Black Panther’s body. One of the captured women uses a pole to bash a guard and a second woman spears a soldier through the abdomen.
- Several armed men rush into a museum and immediately shoot people dead while taking several hostages. One of the armed men takes a hostage aside and tells him he can go. As the hostage runs away, the man shoots the hostage in the back and kills him.
- During a ritual fight two men savagely slash each other. One combatant is brutally stabbed in the abdomen and the chest before being lifted over the head of the winning combatant and thrown hundreds of metres down a waterfall.
- During a fight in a casino, people fire handguns and fight with each other. There’s the sound of bones breaking. People are shocked with electric spears. A man is speared through the foot, and another man is blown over a balcony.
- There is a reckless car chase through busy city streets. Cars crash, and people shoot at each other. A man uses steel claws to cut the wheels from one speeding car, causing it to crash. He holds metal claws to the head of a man, intent on killing him, but stops when he see hundreds of bystanders filming him with their phones.
- Several masked and armed men enter a police station by blasting a hole in the wall. A grenade is thrown and a superhero throws his body over the grenade to absorb the explosion. A policeman is shot in the back. We see a bloody bullet wound and hear that he’ll die unless he gets special treatment. A small device is pushed into the bloody wound to stabilise the man.
- A man shoots a man while a third man holds a gun to a woman’s head, threatening to kill her unless the first man puts down his weapon. The first man then shoots the woman in the head before firing at the third man.
- In a flashback scene a man kills his own brother by stabbing him in the chest with steel claws.
- A man tells how he mutilated his own arms and chest with patterned scars, each scar representing a murder he has committed in preparation for ritual combat.
- One extended scene shows a battle between two groups of African warriors armed with shields that radiate a powerful force field. They also have swords that can slice through stone. The battle also involves aircraft and anti-aircraft guns. At one point, a man holds a sword to a woman’s throat and threatens to kill her. He then draws the sword across the woman’s throat, killing her. No blood is shown.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Black Panther has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:
- The African warriors could be quite scary to young children. There are warrior women who are fierce in appearance, with sword-like spears, shaved heads and necks covered in gold rings. Two men engage in a ritual fight wearing masks with ghost-like eyeholes and mouths full of long pointy teeth.
- The African drums in the soundtrack have a menacing sound that might scare younger children.
- A bare-chested man has patterned scars carved into the skin of his chest and arms.
- The movie’s final epic battle involves several gigantic armour-plated rhinoceroses that are summoned by a horn and used to charge at people. One of these creatures is stopped by a woman who steps in front of it, and it licks her face affectionately.
- After a man drinks a potion, his veins and skin turn purple, glow and pulsate. The man lies down on the ground, and his body is completely covered in red dirt as if he’s in a grave. After some time the man bursts out of his grave gasping for air.
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, Black Panther has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example, after drinking a potion a man has a flashback. We see him as a boy sitting on the ground crying while holding his dead father in his arms.
The scenes mentioned above are likely to scare children in this age group.
Younger children in this age group might also be scared by some of the scenes mentioned above.
Black Panther has some sexual references. For example:
- There are some remarks with sexual connotations about a man shooting his gun prematurely and the bullets not penetrating.
- Characters talk about a man who went to America and had an affair with an American woman, who then had a child. The man was killed and the child was abandoned by the rest of his family.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Black Panther shows some use of substances. For example:
- A woman drinks drugged coffee that leaves her unconscious.
- Two men drink a potion that gives them supernatural powers.
- People drink in a casino bar.
Nudity and sexual activity
Black Panther shows some nudity and sexual activity. For example, after committing a violent crime, two people become sexually excited as they escape in the back of an ambulance. They kiss each other passionately as the scene ends.
Smart phones and luxury car brands are displayed and used in Black Panther.
Black Panther has some coarse language, name-calling and crude behaviour.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Black Panther is the latest movie featuring Marvel characters and the first to feature this black superhero. It’s aimed at older teenagers, adults and fans of Marvel movies. The movie’s actors, soundtrack, score, and scenery combine to make it entertaining and the storyline has real substance. There are several strong characters, including the female leads.
Black Panther isn’t recommended for children under 13 years, and we recommend parental guidance for children aged 13-15 years. That’s because the intense and brutal violence is shown in a way that’s likely to make the violent scenes seem more real to younger viewers.
These are the main messages from this movie:
- World inequality and disadvantage must be addressed. We are all one people so we should look after each other.
- Wise people build bridges, and foolish people build barriers.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include selflessness. You could also talk about how a nation’s wealth and resources could be distributed to help those who need support.