Guys, I have been desperate to get back to the movies. It’s just past Oscar season, and I recently forced a friend of mine to see Call Me By your Name. Can we pause for a moment and discuss just how brilliant Timothy Chalemet is? Good lord. That’s another review for another time. For now, let us discuss all that is Black Panther.
So I traveled out and gathered ‘round some of my dude friends. All of which conspicuously dressed like they were Jake Gyllenhaal in disguise. (I never realized there was a white boy uniform for the movies?) It took a while to get inside, and I was thankful we bought our tickets early. Even though over a week had passed since the movie premiered, the theater was filled to the brim.
Cut to the movie. The cinema darkens and we’re told to silence our phones just before the feature begins. We dive into the tall tales of days past to help wrap our minds around this fictional world of Wakanda and how the Black Panther comes to be. Think Disney’s Hercules, but more interesting. Eventually, we cut to the present and begin our journey with not quite crowned King T’Challa who has just returned home to his pseudo third world country that is actually a highly technologically advanced African nation. However, as will all superhero movies, conflict ensues that puts the Wakanda and the entire world in danger. Que fight scenes, cool gadgetry, that good ‘ol marvel humor, and some seriously politically charged dialogue. But that doesn’t begin to scrape the tip of the iceberg that is Black Panther.
There is a reason you’ll be hard-pressed to find a review that bashes this movie. Because it’s actually a good movie. It’s intelligent and strong as well as relevant and relatable. It’s a movie that this world needs.
Let’s start with the most important. The amazing POC characters. Every actor carries with them tons of depth and charisma. There was something in each of them that someone could find in themselves. That they wanted to find in themselves.
The leading ladies weren’t just there to be damsels in distress. Instead, these were strong, capable women that helped T’chaka become the king he was destined to be. They were sharp and smart and capable of making their own decisions, some of which differed from their counterparts. It was excitingly refreshing.
Shall we discuss Killmonger? The politically inclined Erik Killmonger was possibly my favorite and the most unique villain I’ve come across in a hot minute. He was cunning, sexy and human. He was real, and at first, quite likable. Michael B Jordan was a Basquiat inspired semi-hipster with an almost too square to be hip vibe. Killmonger seemed like someone I’d want to hang out with until I realized he was in it for the world domination. His character was smooth and righteous. He made me feel something more than most superheroes could ever do.
One of my favorite underlying threads of this already politically charged movie was how Ryan Coogler took on the debate between passive resistance and the call for black activism.
The message was clear and all too relevant for today’s society. It’s what makes this movie a powerhouse and something you think about long after you’ve left the theater.
There wasn’t much about this film that I didn’t like, but if I were forced to point out the flaws of Black Panther, I would have to admit that the pacing was slow going at first. It’s a long movie, but I didn’t feel like I was crawling out from under a rock when I left. And I understand and appreciate how developed the world of Wakanda is and why we needed the depth in world building.
I’m not sure I can consider this a negative mark on the movie, but some may and I should attempt to acknowledge that. Because Black Panther doesn’t have a superpower, per say, he has to rely more on his sister’s inventions. Because of this, we end up with what most are coining as the “Bond effect” instead of a bonafide superhero flick. Which of course paved the way for your typical action scenes and typical fight montage. All of which still had a purpose.
Some of the CGI was a little lackluster. Not that I would have really noticed, but the 3 graphic design majors I just happened to be with attempted to pick it apart. As we walked back to our respective vehicles, I rolled my eyes as I listened to them hem and haw about a fight scene here and a gathering scene there. I was far too caught up in the storyline to notice those logistics.
In the end,
Whether you feel this movie was the greatest Marvel film of all time or not, you can’t deny it’s provocation. The movie wasn’t just designed to entertain, it was designed to be plugged in, to make the watcher think of its relevance regardless of superhero.
GO. SEE. THIS. MOVIE. And once you’ve seen it, go see it again for all the amazing stuff you missed the first time around. Support these actors. Support this story and support all threads of conversation and consciousness that this movie brings to light. It’s rare that a movie can make this many waves. And it’s worth every moment in the theater.
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Have you seen Black Panther yet? What other movies are you excited to see? Let us know in the comments!
Listen. The message of this movie is clear. Support black actors, movies, communities and lives. Black superheroes do exist and should be recognized. Thanks, Marvel.