Hollywood movies

Marvel superhero movie ‘Black Panther’ is making history even before its release

The first black superhero in the Marvel cinematic universe, as well as the first to be helmed by an African American director.

We’re halfway through 2017, which means it’s time for Marvel and DC Comics to start teasing us with what they’ve got lined up for the next year. For Marvel Studios, this comes in the form of the teaser for what might be their most anticipated movie in years: Black Panther.

Not only does Black Panther boast an enviable list of talent (Chadwick Boseman, Angela Basset, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B Jordan), but it also tells the story of a black superhero, the first in the Marvel cinematic universe. Black Panther also happens to be helmed by Marvel’s first African American director, Ryan Coogler, whose previous credits include Fruitvale Station and the Rocky reboot Creed, both of which starred Jordan. The movie will be released on February 16, 2018.

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Black Panther (2018).

Black Panther is set in the fictional kingdom of Wakanda, a mysterious realm where technology and tradition have merged to build a veritable paradise. In the spirit of Marvel’s much vaunted love of continuity, both the hero and his kingdom have been introduced to viewers in Captain America: Civil War (2016). The latter not only showed us a glimpse of Wakanda in the post-credits scene, but also provided a lengthy encounter with its king and defender, T’Challa, the alter ego of Black Panther. Played by Boseman, T’Challa’s gravitas and air of tragedy, coupled with his obvious martial skills, immediately earned him a legion of fans.

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Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War (2016).

Black Panther takes place shortly after the events of Civil War. T’Challa, who lost his father to a terrorist attack in Civil War, is reluctantly learning the lessons of what it takes to be king. When he returns from his tragic trip to the US, he is confronted with every ruler’s nightmare: factions within Wakanda seek to challenge his power, at the same time that outside forces begin their aggressive probes into the country. Wakanda is rich in natural resources – the fictional metal Vibranium, which was used to make Captain America’s shield. Vibranium is the source of much of Wakanda’s wealth and technological development; it is also what makes it of such interest to international groups, not all of whom have good intentions.

The Black Panther comic.
The Black Panther comic.

T’Challa is the first black superhero in mainstream comics, making his debut in 1966. He stands apart from later creations Falcon and Luke Cage (both of whom have already made their screen debuts, the former in a Netflix series and the latter as part of Captain America’s team in Winter Soldier). T’Challa is not American. He represents, through his position as leader of an advanced African nation, the idea of what could have been, an Africa untouched by the horrors of conquest and colonialism, pillage and slavery.

Wakanda, despite being fictional, is a powerful metaphor for a better world and a cleaner history than the one we are familiar with. As a superhero, therefore, T’Challa is more than just his muscles and quick reflexes: he is a symbol of African, not just African American, pride, and brings to life a sense of glory and perfection that is rarely accorded to depictions of Africa even today.

Marvel’s well-considered decision to place T’Challa’s storyline in the hands of an African American director, therefore, is especially important. Coogler has commented in an interview that Black Panther is his “most personal movie” yet. The star cast, which reads like a who’s who of black actors in Hollywood, has also been vocal about the importance of the hero in a world where #BlackLivesMatter has come to the forefront of news cycles, and old divisions seem eager to rise again.

T’Challa’s political weight has been underlined constantly, recently by the Black Panther comics written by american journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates. Though the spin-off comic was cancelled after only two issues, the fact that Coates, a noted thinker and activist, would be asked to write a superhero shows not only the power of the comic as a vehicle of thought, but also the heft and importance of this particular character, one who’s long been seen as a symbol of black dignity and power.

With all this riding on Black Panther, it’s no wonder fans are eagerly waiting for 2018. The king of Wakanda has a huge weight on his shoulders, but odds are Boseman, Coogler, and the rest of the crew will not disappoint. If the trailer is any indication, they’re more than ready for the challenge.

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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

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Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.