Cast member Chadwick Boseman poses at the premiere of "Black Panther" in Los Angeles, California, January 29, 2018..
(photo credit: MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS)
Spoiler Alert: Black Panther spoilers ahead, in case you haven’t seen the film and intend to (which you should).
If you haven’t and you don’t plan to, let me give you the rundown. Black Panther is based on the Marvel comic book character that premiered in 1966 and has a spotty history in terms of publication and popularity. Black Panther is a superhero from the fictional African nation of Wakanda, a supposedly third-world nation that secretly is home to a highly advanced society driven by the vibranium meteorite that crashed there generations ago. Vibranium is a fictional metal that is highly vibration-absorbent; the Black Panther suit is made of vibranium and his super-strength is gained by eating an herb mutated by the presence of vibranium.
Black Panther is a mantle passed from father to son in the royal line of Wakanda and was held by King T’challa at the start of the movie. When T’challa defeats a challenger from another tribe to become king, he does not expect to be challenged soon after by his estranged cousin who was raised in the US after his father was secretly killed for treason, nicknamed Killmonger after his record in US black ops.
Killmonger challenges T’challa after arriving in Wakanda, shaming the country for remaining prosperous but isolated and hidden, while its people around the world are suffering from discrimination — many of whom are trapped in poverty and subjugated politically and socially. He defeats T’challa and immediately orders the exportation of advanced weaponry to operatives around the world, to enable the uprising of all black people and their seizing of power, killing whomever stands in their way.
Naturally, T’challa and his allies defeat Killmonger and stop his plot, but the villain does force the king to rethink Wakanda's isolation and motivates him to finally bring its true nature into the light. He speaks to the United Nations and is seen telling his sister of his plans to establish an outreach center in a black community, the very community where Killmonger had been abandoned after his father’s murder.
While Killmonger may be driven by anger and vengeance toward the wrong solution, he identifies a very real issue in the world.
How much responsibility are the fortunate to take for the less fortunate, especially those of a shared cultural or racial background? In the film, T’challa argued that Wakanda is his responsibility, but not all black people are. Similarly, no European nation takes responsibility for all people of European descent. The same is true of Asian, Latin American and African nations. This is the position taken by every nation in the world today.
Israel takes responsibility for every Jew on the planet. The charter of the state of Israel talks of the “Jewish people” and the ingathering of the immigrants. Israel views itself as the defender of all Jews. Israel was founded to ensure that “Never Again” is not just a rallying cry, but also a sure promise. The IDF is the last resort in the event of another widespread attack on the Jewish people.
If Killmonger had been a Jew, he would have returned from America to his homeland and been able to draft into the existing army, instead of overthrowing the government. Israel is the reality that a populist such as Killmonger dreams of, a nation that stands to protect all its people, whether they are citizens or not.