At this point, there's no way to deny it: Black Panther is a hit. Ryan Coogler's film has taken the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a brand new direction, and audiences seem to appreciate all of its bold swings. With that said, there's one thing that we can't help but notice about Black Panther: it's insanely similar to Thor: Ragnarok.
Those are the similarities that we intend to focus on with this article. Despite the film's unprecedented box office success for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the movie also echoes many beats and story elements from its direct MCU predecessor. On that note, let's dive in and talk about how both Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok handle fatherly relationships.
The Hero Dealing With The Death Of His Father
In fairness, parental relationships often seem to play prominent roles in superhero movies on both sides of the aisle; after all, look at the Martha scene from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Having said that, the comparison between Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok is striking. Both involve elder sons of an advanced kingdoms dealing with the passing of their respective fathers in very similar ways. For T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), he must return home to Wakanda and deal with the fallout of his father's murder in Captain America: Civil War. Similarly, the bulk of Thor: Ragnarok's story follows Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth) as he copes with the death of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) on the side of a cliff before the arrival of Hela (Cate Blanchett), and the implication that he must finally ascend to Asgard's throne.
Both Feature A Gladiator Fight
In the world of superhero-themed action movies, there are few better ways to show how badass your hero is than to have him or her engage in a gladiator fight. Luckily for Marvel fans, both Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok feature scenes in which the hero is stripped of his defining power and thrust into combat for a crowd of cheering onlookers. In Black Panther, this happens (multiple times) at the waterfall when T'Challa has his herb-induced powers removed prior to a battle to reassert his status as king. On the other hand, in Thor: Ragnarok, we saw a loose adaptation of Planet Hulk in which Thor faces off against The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) after being captured upon his arrival on Sakaar. Black Panther's gladiator fight is played considerably straighter than Ragnarok's more comedic scene, but they're both arena-based melees nonetheless.
The Return Of An Evil, Previously Unknown Family Member
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has long been accused of having a bit of a villain problem by many fans, but Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and Hela (Cate Blanchett) both managed to stand out during their debut appearances in Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok. Beyond that, however, they both stand out among the other Marvel villains that we have seen recently because they are both long-lost relatives of T'Challa and Thor, respectively, and they both arrive after spending years locked away (figuratively in the case of Killmonger and literally in the case of Hela) to reclaim their kingdoms and fundamentally change the realm that the hero has come to know and love. We have seen familial villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before, but the ways Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok incorporate their respective baddies into the equations are incredibly similar.
The Hero Has A Vision Of His Dead Father
In screenwriting, the hero's low point is often referred to as "the dark knight of the soul." It's the moment in which all seems lost until our protagonist finds the strength and courage to overcome his enemy and save the day. Most Marvel movies feature a moment in which the hero overcomes the dark night of the soul, but Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok both do it in similar ways. Specifically, both of these Phase 3 Marvel films do so by having T'Challa and Thor see visions of their dead fathers, and those encounters give them the power that they need to return to the fight and beat Killmonger and Hela, respectively. Of course, this similarity isn't necessarily a bad thing; it just means that Black Panther and Ragnarok play with similar themes of legacy and family.
Both Films Deal With The Implications Of Colonialism
As weird as it may seem, the worlds of Wakanda and Asgard help make two similar points during the events of Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok, and they both have to do with the concept of colonialism. In Thor: Ragnarok, audiences finally learn the real fallout of Odin's early years as a conqueror and his use of Hela as a virtual weapon of mass destruction in his conquest of the Nine Realms. It's all about a nation choosing to forget its bloody past, which leads to a repetition of past mistakes. On the other hand, Black Panther presents audiences with a fictionalized version of an African nation that has gone entirely untouched and unnoticed by its outsiders for the entirety of its existence. They are different stories with different core morals, but they both come from similar thematic places.
Both Films End With The Hero Accepting His Place As King
Last, but certainly not least, we come to the ways in which Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok conclude their stories and pave the way for the events of Avengers: Infinity War. As both films follow heroes who hail from mystical kingdoms (Wakanda isn't magic, but it's advanced beyond our comprehension), they each end with T'Challa and Thor respectively learning to accept their places on the thrones. On that note, it is obviously worth mentioning that these two kingdoms find themselves in radically different places when these films end (Wakanda is ready to take its place as a central power on Earth, while Asgard has been very thoroughly destroyed), but the mental states of T'Challa and Thor still mirror each other in notable ways that could have huge implications when Thanos (Josh Brolin) arrives on Earth.