How Have You Not Seen Black Panther Yet?

No, seriously, this review is super late to the party, like every other thing I do. Hubby and I watched this in theaters the Saturday after it released for a late Valentine’s Day date. We had to catch a “late” viewing (9:20 PM!!!) of it because most of the showings were SOLD OUT. But we were determined, though we hadn’t been out past 9 pm since I was pregnant and like, not super pregnant.
Here lie spoilers…
The movie opens with a neat CGI animated telling of the origin of Wakanda, for the Black Panther/Marvel newbs like me.
It wasn’t exactly the high point of the movie, the effects were okay, but nothing I haven’t seen before but the backstory was definitely necessary for me as I had never read a Black Panther comic. The rest of the movie, though, had me hook, line, and sunk!
I genuinely think every character in this movie, except Ulysses Klaue who is killed off before the movie’s climax and never reveals a backstory, is sympathetic and likable. There is a depth to them that I have not seen in a superhero movie ever. Even in Wonder Woman which I also loved. I think the idea of a utopic society like Wakanda where gender equality appears to have progressed further than the rest of the world allows for a really excellent relationship dynamic, where the characters can build off of each other rather than eclipse the others.
Brief movie synopsis: Of course, the story follows the Prince turned King of the utopian Wakanda, an African country rich in the fictional vibranium hidden away from the rest of the world and as a result incredibly progressive and technologically advanced, named T’Challa, the Black Panther. T’Challa returns home after his father is killed in an attack and assumes the throne after a challenge ritual to determine the next ruler of Wakanda. He learns that an artifact containing vibranium has been stolen and concerned about Wakanda being discovered leads him to investigate the whereabouts of the artifact. During this investigation, he comes face to face with his uncle’s American son, Erik Killmonger, a radicalized military veteran with a chip on his shoulder the size of Wakanda. He battles T’Challa for the throne after revealing his heritage and wins. T’Challa is believed to be dead but washes up on shore downstream from the capital. He regains his strength and powers from a magical flower saved from destruction by Nakia, his love interest, and heroine in her own right. He returns to his home for the final battle with Killmonger who also has Black Panther powers and the Wakandans battle each other simultaneously, divided by duty and loyalty. Killmonger is defeated in the end in an incredibly gut-wrenching and vindicating scene.
Remember, this is a superhero Disney/Marvel movie. It will not win an Oscar for Best Film for anything but it is truly an enjoyable movie especially for watching with kids. But this movie does not shirk from the race debate. Killmonger is driven to insanity by the oppression of black people, not only throughout time but in the present, and wants to create a world where the power balance is flipped.
There is also the rather obvious inclusion of only two white actors in a time where the debate on minority actors in significant movie/TV roles is really starting to have an impact. Black Panther does not belong to white people, his story is thoroughly rooted in being black. And that is okay. In the same way that other races can enjoy movies based on the history of white regions like medieval Ireland or Scandinavia, white people can enjoy Black Panther. And hopefully, walk away feeling a little more sympathetic to the argument of representation in the media. It is definitely strange to go into a movie and not really see yourself in it. Unnerving because it so very rarely, if ever, happens in mainstream entertainment.
And now a LotR joke:
 

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Meme surfaced on Facebook shortly after the premiere. If you know the source drop it in the comments and drive traffic their way!

Now that the armored rhino in the room is out of the way, I can talk about how badass Okoye is! Seriously, I want Wakanda Forever tattooed somewhere on my body. She is confident, she is strong, she is opinionated. She is everything I want my daughter to be. And she is every Alpha Male’s worst nightmare which is just awesome.
There was also this great complexity to her character, her tenderness to her lover and the rhinos he is raising (which in the end contributes a significant role to their triumphing against the King’s men), and her hatred of her duty when she refused to betray the throne that Killmonger had just overthrown. The character’s internal conflict was so expertly done by Danai Gurira I wanted to applaud.
The whole cast was perfect. Shuri, played by Letitia Wright and another favorite, made girls in STEM look super cool and I genuinely hope lots of little girls see themselves in her and embrace their inner nerds. Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger was hands down the strongest actor in the movie and really should win an Oscar for his portrayal but again, superhero movie, probably not going to rake in many awards.
Overall, we laughed, we learned, and we had a really great night at the movies. Isn’t that kind of the whole point?
Let me know if you enjoyed Black Panther as much as I did in the comments below!
Wakanda Forever!
UPDATED:
Check out these Black Panther centered discussions much more substantial than mine.
Dreams of Wakanda
What the Dora Milaje Means to Black Women
Why ‘Black Panther’ is a Defining Moment for Black America

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