Australian Council on Children and the Media

Black Panther

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Not recommended under 13, parental guidance recommended 13 to 15 due to violence and scary scenes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Black Panther
  • a review of Black Panther completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 22 February 2018.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 13 to 15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Viewers aged 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Black Panther
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Action violence
Length 134 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Black Panther continues on from the end of Captain America: Civil War. After the death of his father (the former King of Wakanda) T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to his apparently ‘third-world’ African country. However Wakanda has a closely guarded secret.  While depicted as underdeveloped, the country is in fact the most technological advanced in the world and contains an unlimited supply of the priceless metal Vibranium which powers the technology. T’Challa’s coronation takes place, but not without incident, because a rival chieftain named M’Baku (Winston Duke) unsuccessfully challenges T’Challa for the throne.

Following his coronation, T’Challa goes to America after receiving information regarding the infamous arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), whom the Wakandans have been trying to capture for twenty years. The information reveals that Klaue, together with a ruthless and dangerous ally named Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), killed several people during a robbery in which they stole a priceless African mask made of Vibranium. T’Challa and Wakanda’s General O’Koye (Danai Gurira) manage to capture and arrest Klaue, but in a daring raid Klaue is broken out of jail. CIA operative Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) is shot in the back in the process. Not wanting to let Ross die, T’Challa takes him back to Wakanda to be healed with Vibranium-powered technology.

Life becomes even more complicated for T’Challa when Killmonger arrives to challenge him for the throne, with dire consequences.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Superheroes; civil war; child soldiers; revenge and betrayal

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains extended scenes depicting intense action violence (some of which is brutal), the destruction of property, multiple violent deaths, ritual violence and self-mutilation. Examples include:

  • Several kidnapped women are huddled together in the in the back of an army truck which is part of a convoy. The convoy is attacked by Black Panther who fights the guards with superpowers.  Bullets fired at Black Panther ricochet off his body. One of the captured women uses a pole to bash a guard and a second woman spears a soldier through the abdomen.
  • Several armed men rush into a museum and immediately shoot a number of people dead while taking several hostages. One of the armed men takes a hostage aside and tells him he can go. As the man runs away the armed robber shoots the hostage in the back, killing him.
  • During a ritual fight two men savagely slash each other. One combatant is brutally stabbed in the abdomen and the chest before being lifted over the head of the winning combatant and thrown hundreds of metres down a waterfall.  
  • In a fight in a casino handguns are fired and there is stylised fighting including bones being broken (we hear the sound). People are shocked with electric spears, a man is speared through the foot and a second man is blown over a balcony.
  • There is a reckless car chase through busy city streets with cars crashing, and gunfire exchanged. A man uses steel claws to cut the wheels from one speeding car, causing it to crash. He holds metal claws to the head of a man, intent on killing him, but stops when he see hundreds of bystanders filming him with their phones.
  • Several masked and armed men enter the police station by blasting a hole in the wall. A grenade is thrown and a man (superhero) throws his body over the grenade to absorb the explosion. A policeman is shot in the back and we see a bloody bullet wound and hear that he will die unless given special treatment.  A small device is pushed into the bloody wound to stabilise the man.
  • In one scene a man shoots a man while a third man holds a gun to a woman’s head (the first man’s partner), threatening to kill her unless the first man puts down his weapon. The first man then shoots his own partner in the head before firing at the third man.
  • In a flashback scene a man kills his own brother by stabbing him in the chest with steel claws.
  • A man tells how he mutilated his own arms and chest with patterned scars, each scar representing a murder he had committed in preparation for ritual combat. 
  • One extended scene depicts a battle between two groups of African warriors armed with shields that radiate a powerful force field, and power swords capable of slicing through stone. The battle also involves advanced weapons including aircraft and anti-aircraft guns. At one point during the battle a man holds a sword to a woman’s throat threatening to kill her. He then draws the sword across the woman’s throat, killing her; no blood is depicted.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The African warriors could be quite scary. There are warrior women who are fierce in appearance, with sword-like spears, shaved heads and necks covered in gold rings. Two men engage in a ritual fight wearing masks with ghost-like eyeholes and mouths full of long pointy teeth.
  • The African drums in the sound-track have a menacing sound that may scare younger children.
  • A bare chested man is depicted with his arms and chest covered in patterned scars carved into his skin.
  • The film’s final epic battle involves several gigantic armour-plated rhinoceroses which are summoned by a horn and used to charge at people. One of these creatures is stopped by a woman who steps in front of it, and it licks her face affectionately.
  •  After a man consumes a potion his veins and then skin turn purple, glow and pulsate.. The man then lies down on the ground and his body is completely covered in red dirt as if in a grave. After some time the man bursts out of his grave gasping for air.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • After drinking a potion a man has a flashback and we see him as a boy sitting on the ground crying while holding his dead father in his arms. 

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

The above-mentioned scenes are also likely to scare children in this age group.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be scared by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Smart phones
  • Luxury car brands

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Reference is made to a man shooting his gun prematurely and the bullets not penetrating; both comments had definite sexual connotations. 
  • There is discussion about how a man went to America had an affair with an American woman with a child born. We hear how the father of the child was killed and the child abandoned by the rest of his family.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • After committing a violent crime, a couple become sexually excited as they escape from the crime in the back of an ambulance.  They are passionately kissing each other as the scene ends.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A woman is given drugged coffee that leaves her unconscious.
  • A potion is given to two men to give them supernatural powers.
  • Drinks are served in a casino bar

Coarse language

There is some coarse language and name-calling in this movie, including:

  • savages, white boy, clown
  • shit (used a couple of times), arse, what the hell
  • In one scene a young woman gives a man the “rude finger” while walking away.

In a nutshell

Black Panther is the latest film featuring Marvel characters and the first to feature this black superhero. It is aimed at older adolescents, adults and fans of these films. The films actors, soundtrack, score, and scenery combine to make it entertaining and the storyline has real substance. There are a number of strong characters, including the female leads. The intensity and brutality of the violence are depicted in a way which is likely to make the violent scenes seem more real to younger viewers, so the film is not recommended for children under 13 and parental guidance is recommended for the 13 to 15 age group.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • World inequality needs to be addressed. We are all one people so should look after each other and there should be no disadvantage
  • The wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers. 

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • selflessness
  • The distribution of a nation’s wealth and resources to help those who need help and protection.

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