There are countless ways to tackle a story. You can go character-first. What does this character struggle against, and how does he or she grow? You can go at it from a plot perspective. What drives the plot forward and keep things going? You can also go at it from a thematic standpoint, writing an entire story around a specific message or tone you’re trying to get across.
With a lot of the Marvel Studios films, it seems safe to say that a good number of them are character-driven, with the writers looking to make each film lead to growth. Some could arguably be seen as plot-driven. However, with their latest (and arguably most complex) film, Black Panther, it sounds like they went the thematic route.
Speaking with our very own Nancy Tapia, Black Panther screenwriter Joe Robert Cole discussed how they tackled the story for the film.
“We read all of the runs. We read every run, and got inspiration from them all. Then we tried to place them into a contemporary story and explore the themes that we felt were relevant, kind of bridging African American and African, and talking thematically about being your brother’s keeper. That’s a theme that we wanted to talk about it. There were different themes we wanted to talk about, and we used the story as a context to explore those things, and figure out what the story would be that would be fulfilling in terms of that.”
While I haven’t seen the film myself yet, from everything I’ve heard, it may very well be the most sophisticated yet in terms of storytelling. With that in mind, I can’t help but wonder if it has to do with this approach of them looking to tackle certain themes in the narrative.
What do you think of this approach? Do you think it’s something that was unique to Black Panther, or is there another film in the MCU that seems that it set out to engage in certain themes? Let us know your thoughts down below!