WAKANDA FOREVER! I remember hearing this being chanted throughout the film and as I was leaving the theater. As I watched, the first Black Superhero film at this magnitude, The Black Panther starring the late Chadwick Boseman, I couldn’t help, nor did I want to avoid, the sense of pride being a black man, but seeing the beauty in what Marvel Studios had done for one of my favorite comic book characters. The driving force behind Black Panther isn’t its visuals or superheroics, but more the symbolic nature and message of “knowing oneself”, accountability for your actions and not always following in the footsteps of your ancestors. The film’s pursuit of the idea that has been the underlying message within the superhero cinematic universe and overall suggests that the 1962’s Amazing Fantasy No. 15: “With great power comes great responsibility.” I feel that Black Panther was unique from the other Marvel Films, in that it pursues this in the context of its characters and its setting. Wakanda, in the comics, was beautiful to began with, but Ryan Coogler brought it to life. From the overall look and feel, to the languages and tribal decorum, Black Panther hits on all cylinders. Let’s talk about it. Black Panther is unmistakably a film from Marvel Studios, with all the humor, action, and callbacks to past movies that act as a connective tissue between the different entries in its megafranchise. But it strains against that template.
Throughout the movie, director Ryan Coogler delivers moments that feel as rooted and personal as anything in his previous films, while building environments that carry a real sense of atmosphere and place. Chadwick Boseman anchors as T’Challa the new appointed King of Wakanda and the Black Panther. The antagonist, and some are calling anti-hero, nicknamed Killmonger, is played by Michael B. Jordan. Lupita Nyong’o shines as Nakia, T’Challa’s close confidante and love interest who hopes to see her country take a larger role in the world. Danai Gurira gives what ought to be a star-making turn as Okoye, the fierce leader of Wakanda’s royal guard. Letitia Wright, in my opinion, steals the lion’s share of the movie’s laughs as Shuri, T’Challa’s genius younger sister and a technological leader who develops the tools and weapons deployed by her brother. Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis give more than capable performances as expected and Sterling K. Brown makes a powerful performance as a pivotal role in the current state of Wakanda and purpose of Killmonger. With Killmonger, Coogler and Jordan created, questionably, the most inspirational villain in the MCU. It’s not just Jordan’s physicality that gives this away, It’s the fire in his eyes and anger you see behind them. One of the most memorable lines comes from Jordan in his last conversation with T’Challa. I don’t want to spoil it, but when he says it, you will know the impact of the words. It is a testament to what we have overlooked for decades a country and supports a unified approach to freedom and unity. Which gets us back to the ideas in Black Panther.
The plot is straightforward. Set shortly after the events of Captain America: Civil War, the film begins as T’Challa prepares to take the mantle of king. When an old and dangerous adversary appears on Wakanda’s radar—carrying a stolen cache of vibranium, the fictional metal that is the source of the nation’s wealth—the new monarch springs into action, hoping to bring him to justice while securing Wakanda’s future and continued secrecy. But his path crosses with Killmonger, who hopes to use Wakanda’s power and technological prowess to spark a revolution of oppressed peoples around the world, exporting weapons and assistance to those who suffer under the boot of racial oppression. The film is by far one of the most compelling films I have seen as a comic book fan and overall critic. A positive and understandable thought is that Black Panther attacks ideologies that currently pose the greatest threat to our world and ultimately the film asks not just, “What is T’Challa’s responsibility to Wakanda?” but “What is Wakanda’s responsibility to the world?”
Harold Albert Bridgeforth aka Harry Bridge was born in Bridgeport CT to parents Harold Bert Bridgeforth and Sylvia Elaine Bridgeforth. At an early age Harold possessed advanced skills in the arts and showed an interest in acting and entertainment. After graduating from Stratford High School in 2001, Harold explored modeling and acting and graduated from John Casablancas Modeling and Career center in 2002.
Along with studying music, multimedia and graphic design at Devry University and Norwalk Community College, Harold studied Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido and Judo at Hwangs School of Martial Arts in Stratford CT. Competing in state and semi-national events. Harold obtained his 2nd Degree Black belt in Tae Kwon Do and won numerous tournaments including the Rhode Island State Championship in 2010 (Heavyweight Division).
After getting back into acting and landing several roles in independent films such as "Revenge" (Burgafilms)and Slaughter Weekend (2010), along with working with actors such as Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and 50 Cent on the film Righteous Kill (2008) and Lee Tergesen on the film Silver Tongues (2011) he was bit by the acting bug once more and has focused on working with film ever since.
Harold still acts, directs his own projects and works as an art director supplying filmmakers marketing materials. His award winning artwork has been featured in several films, productions, tv shows, websites and literature.