When I first heard of Black Panther a year or two ago, I confess: I was not excited.
I’d been feeling burned out on comic book movies. (With Wonder Woman and Jason Momoa’s upcoming Aquaman as the recent exceptions.)
In the Marvel Universe, I hadn’t seen Civil War, the latest Thor, Dr. Strange, Ant Man, Spiderman: Homecoming, Guardians Vol. 2, or anything later than Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Because it’s felt like we’re getting a solo movie for all of these^
…at least all the dudes.
Since I’ve never been a comic fan–if the library didn’t have it, I probably didn’t read it–I had never even heard of the Black Panther. But I saw a real trailer and realized that in a “hero” saturated landscape, this was a movie worth seeing.
There have been many excellent articles written about it (the attached link has five from Colorlines) and what the movie means in a broader cinematic and cultural context. Here are several reasons why I personally loved it and think it deserved more money than Star Wars.
(The following is as non-spoilery as possible, but I hope you’ve already seen it.)
T’Challa is a good man. (Which is NOT the same as being a “nice guy.”) He listens to and respects the women in his life. He treats his enemies with innate decency. Most impressively of all, T’Challa has the courage to tell his hero when his hero was in the wrong.
The word that comes to mind is “gentle.” (Which is amazing considering the amount of hand-to-hand combat in the movie.) He is not less of a man, or less of a leader, for being kind. While morality is often treated as a crutch in movies, his conscience and goodness are a large part of the reason why people are willing to follow him. Chadwick Boseman deserves lots of kudos; he played T’Challa with grace, self-possession, and humor.
With the recent #Time’sUp and #MeToo movements becoming part of the Hollywood consciousness, a hero like Black Panther/T’Challa is exactly the sort of man I’d like to see more of on the big screen.
Complex Women of Color
Oh my god, the women in this movie. Yes x1000. That casting director should get hired a lot more often.
In order: Shuri, a technical genius. Nakia, a spy risking her life to help African women. General Okaye. Queen Ramonda.
Thought one during the movie: I would follow Okoye into battle.
Thought two: if you could vote for somebody to become queen, then I vote Angela Bassett should be queen of everything, forever.
Yes, these women are so beautiful it’s a bit like staring directly at the sun. (Wakanda’s gene pool is phenomenal.) What I truly love about their characters is how strong and multi-faceted they all are. They talk about loyalty, duty, and family. They make jokes. They feel like real people. Which is…not as typical as it should be.
It was just so damn pretty
The saturated color, the costumes, the actors, the setting…it was all stunning. The effects were beautiful too. And the musical score added to the overall ambiance.
New mental vacation spot^
The main conflict is isolationism (the traditional Wakandan stance) versus globalism. In a world with Nationalism on the rise, it felt like an appropriate conflict. Can you turn inward and ignore the troubles of your neighbors?
How much do we truly owe one another?
Colonization led to many horrible inequities that still exist today. While a nuanced discussion of such a huge topic is a bit much to expect from a blockbuster–much less one based on a comic book–this one is a great conversation starter.
This felt fresh
As I said before, Star Wars felt like a retread. It didn’t really go anywhere new this time around. (Sad to say for such an initially ground-breaking franchise.)
There are times when it feels like every movie coming out takes place in America and stars attractive cisgender, straight, white men. When women are included they’re usually both white and poorly drawn caricatures. Rarely do female characters resemble any of the brilliant, funny, and fierce women I have met in my life. People of color are often relegated to the sidekick role or feel like a token character.
It’s boring and I’m over it.
That must have been intentional. It’s too funny not to have been a casting choice.
Dear Hollywood: people will obviously pay lots (and lots) of money to see movies starring people of color. People want to see movies that are well-written and well-acted. People also like to watch movies that don’t feel 100% like a movie they’ve seen before. This shouldn’t be a surprise.
because I want to see more scenes like this:
What was going on with Martin Freeman’s accent? Why couldn’t he have been an MI6 agent instead of CIA? It was distracting.
As someone in the STEM field who has worked in educational outreach/ nonprofits, the outreach scene was poignant. Fighting may create change, but a more positive and lasting change comes from empowering people to build better futures for themselves. Globally, education is the best tool we have to do that.
I loved T’Challa and Shuri’s relationship. That scene in the lab was hilarious and the sibling dynamic felt very true-to-life.
There you have it. I might not have been excited at first, but I’m singing a different tune now: