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Get-out claws

Black Panther aims to rescue the world from danger

Nakia believes the country should reach out a helping hand

THE new ruler of the African nation of Wakanda may be able to draw on his special powers as Black Panther, but his country is just a whisker away from a big cat-astrophe. In Marvel Studios’ Black Panther – released at cinemas on Tuesday (13 February) – T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), who has succeeded his father as king, quickly becomes aware of threats to the country’s way of life.

While following age-old traditions, Wakanda is technologically advanced and makes good use of its resource of vibranium. The miraculous metal not only helps the trains run on time but also strengthens the suit that Black Panther wears when taking on villains.

One of those villains is South African arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis). He would do anything to get hold of vibranium. So would Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who joins Ulysses in a trigger-happy theft of African artefacts from a British museum and whose connection to Wakanda is too close for comfort.

Touting himself as a good guy fighting back against colonialism, Killmonger plans to gain control of the vibranium in Wakanda and use it to make weapons. His supporters want to be conquerors.

Meanwhile T’Challa is wrestling with questions about right and wrong in his own backyard. Wakandan spy Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) is unhappy that the country lives in isolation. She believes it should reach out a helping hand to refugees and play its part in the international community.

What is more, T’Challa is wondering whether his father was quite as good as he previously imagined. The former king’s decisions may have put Wakanda and the world at risk.

T’Challa is disconsolate. But Nakia tries to offer encouragement.

‘No man is perfect – not even your father,’ she says. ‘You can’t let your father’s mistakes define who you are.’

Actor Chadwick Boseman says that he felt he could bring ‘a lot of real-world conflict’ to his character. And among the real-world problems T’Challa faces are what to do about the mistakes of the past and how to handle the future.

All individuals have a backstory. The choices and actions of others, including their mistakes, have had an effect on who we are today. So have the decisions we have taken, including the ones that we shouldn’t have made – those based on selfishness, hard-heartedness or prejudice.

None of us is perfect.

But one piece of age-old wisdom promises that our mistakes don’t have to be the end of the story. It says that when we put our trust in the love that God showed to humankind through his Son, Jesus, we discover a new kind of life. The Bible insists: ‘Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends’ (2 Corinthians 5:17, 18 Good News Bible).

Through his words and actions, Jesus revealed that nothing could keep down the love that God has for us. If we open ourselves to it, it can change the way we look at the past and give us a hope that stretches into the future.

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