Movie Reviews

The Black Panther 2 Trailer & Other Best Uses Of Bob Marley Songs In Movies And TV

Eyebrows were raised as the first official teaser for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was released at the San Diego Comic Con. Apart from the new characters and Chadwick Boseman tributes, the trailer featured some legendary music with an emotional reprise of Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry.”

This is, of course, not the first time that the reggae legend’s discography has been featured for some iconic needle drops in film and TV. From superhero stories like Luke Cage and Black Lightning to romantic comedies like 50 First Dates and Marley & Me, the visionary’s legacy lives on.

A haunting cover of “No Woman No Cry” balances the emotions of fear and hope in the teaser for the upcoming Black Panther sequel. As King T’Challa dies, Wakanda seems to have fallen into a crisis with foreign powers interfering in the nation’s existence. This is when the song starts getting more tense in nature until viewers get a faint glimpse of the resistance efforts and what seems like T’Challa’s successor. 

Right in the closing moments, the song transitions towards an anthemic version of Kendrick Lamar’s landmark hit “Alright.” The fusion of politically vocal artists like Marley and Lamar further add to the political themes of the Black Panther series, setting it apart from the rest of the MCU movies.

One of Will Smith’s most popular movies, I Am Legend revolves around a global crisis where seemingly only a man and his dog survive. As he wards off mutated creatures, Smith’s protagonist Robert Neville resorts to music at times to feel a little less lonely. The movie as well as the end credits are adorned with five songs by Bob Marley and The Wailers. 

“Three Little Birds” is probably one of the most feel-good songs in existence as Marley sings about waking up in the morning and finding three birds singing “sweet songs” to him. The song plays during a wholesome moment when Neville is washing his dog and listening to the Marley classic on his iPod.

The heartbreaking dog story, Marley and Me, is one of those movies that people can only watch once. In one of the lighter moments of the movie, the titular dog’s owner wonders what to christen him until a Bob Marley song plays on the radio. The rest is pretty self-explanatory. 

The song in this scene is “One Love,” a classic tune of coming together as one and living in peace. Lyrics like “One love, one heart. Let’s get together and feel all right” add to the universal nature of the song.

Several episodes of the Arrowverse show Black Lightning have intense scenes that feature contrastingly slow-paced and lighter songs. This is the case with an episode that finds the titular protagonist being processed at a police station. 

While he tries to control his powers of lightning, viewers can hear snippets of Bob Marley’s “Sun is Shining.” Like many of his other optimistic anthems, “Sun is Shining” details going out on a sunny day when the weather is clear. The song received further popularity in the 1990s with a remix by Danish DJ Funkstar De Luxe.

Probably because of reggae’s Caribbean origins, it is a common occurrence for Bob Marley songs to play in movies set in beach-like settings. As for the Leonardo DiCaprio-starrer The Beach, the melancholic yet hopeful “Redemption Song” plays during a funeral that takes place after a shark attack. 

Even though it plays in a mellow setting, the lyrics are as reassuring as ever. Marley asks his listeners to “emancipate themselves from mental slavery” while also touching upon slavery in the literal sense as he talks about the struggles of immigrant laborers in his homeland.

One of the wildest movies to be based on true stories, 50 First Dates focuses on a woman with short-term memory loss. As she ends up forgetting the man she loves every day, her partner keeps on impressing her in creative ways every single day like it is the first time.

A lighthearted comedy with several scenes of Adam Sandler playing the ukulele, there are plenty of feel-good numbers in this rom-com including “Could You Be Loved” and “Is This Love.” The latter is an inquisitive song in which Marley expresses his romantic intentions for his partner and wonders if the emotion that he feels is truly love. This suits a love story like 50 First Dates in which both characters have to reconsider their love for each other with every passing day. 

The 2017 space opera movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a wild crossover of many genres as is also evident from its soundtrack. During a scene involving the eccentric Bob the Pirate’s spaceship, “Jamming” can be heard playing in the background. 

Marley joins other artists like David Bowie, Charles Bradley, and Wyclef Jean for the diverse soundtrack. A reggae classic, “Jamming” is a celebratory tune as the title refers to partying and coming together in Jamaican patois. And indeed, it serves as the perfect song with its iconic intro and the atmospheric background vocals by The Wailers.

The soundtrack for the Marvel series Luke Cage has featured some classic hip-hop numbers but towards its sophomore season, a lot of reggae also found its way with three Bob Marley classics appearing in crucial scenes. The Jamaican heritage inherited by the season 2 villain, Bushmaster, might be one of the reasons behind this musical choice.

While “Redemption Song” and “Sun Is Shining” are popular tracks that have appeared in other shows, one of the Luke Cage episodes features a lesser-known hit called “Hypocrites.” Marley uses the lyrics to address how people might preach about leading good lives but only end up inflicting violence on each other. The song plays in a scene where the secondary antagonist Shades tails Bushmaster, evoking the endless cycle of violence and deceit present in the series.

The Nelson Mandela biopic Long Walk To Freedom drew popularity for its original single “Ordinary Love” by U2. Much like Marley’s music, the song features themes and hopes of humanity coming together for global harmony.

So, it is no surprise that even one of Marley’s songs appears on the soundtrack. Based on a speech by Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I (also known as Rastafari), the lyrics address war and racism and the need for equality among the discriminated races. Even though Bob Marley’s songs might have a feel-good sound, he still never shied away from addressing dark realities through his socio-political songs like this one.

Centering upon the concept of celebrities facing off in lip-syncing challenges, Lip Sync Battle has pitted diverse celebrities against each other with some showing up in unexpected avatars. In one of the episodes, basketballer Chris Paul faced off against rapper Snoop Dogg who not only performed a surprise rendition of “Don’t Stop Believin” but also expressed his love for Marley by lip-syncing on “Could You Be Loved.” 

Dogg, who once had a reggae alter ego called Snoop Lion, effortlessly evoked the late musician’s groove for a light-hearted performance. When it comes to Marley’s songs of universal love and peace, “Could You Be Loved” is a timeless gem from his discography. 

NEXT: 10 Biggest Reveals From The Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Trailer

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