Black Panther Review: Not Just A Movie

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Sunday February 18th I went to see Black Panther with a few friends & on February 25th in 3D with my parents. I as most of the world, have been hyping up this movie since I first saw Black Panther in Civil War. The first black mainstream superhero movie? I’m so down! It was a long year of waiting to see this movie in all it’s glory and the closer we got to the premier the more hype we all got. Now of course you had the comic book nerds who were hype about it, then you had the Marvel heads who were excited and you had the regular old black folks who were just excited cause he was black. I was in the middle of a Marvel fan and just a regular black person hyped to see the possibilities this movie could bring to the world. This movie delivered in more ways than one and I even got emotional during some scenes just seeing the excellence of our melanated people on the big screen having complex conversations and saving their world. Leaving the theater all I could say is I wish Wakanda was real!

Now this will be my review of the movie and I’ll just write a brief snopices of the movie and then talk about my favorite parts and what the over all message of this film was because this movie is deep and had layers. 

The movie opens up in Oakland, CA in 1992 which to some it might have taken them by surprise if they didn’t listen to interviews before seeing the movie. Now being that Ryan Coogler is from Oakland there might have been a reason Oakland was picked as the American city to stem from. We see the kids outside playing basketball and then it goes up to a building and two brothas are inside doing what you might think is like a drug deal or something sterotypical but thankfully is not. They then hear a noise outside to what they think is the police but then they get a knock on the door and when they open it the king of Wakanda T’Chaka and his Dora Milaje come in. We find out that the two brothas were Prince N’Jobu T’Chaka’s brother and Ulysses Klaue an arms dealer who were on a spy mission. King T’Chaka comes in and tells his brother to come back to Wakanda and face the council as he tried to sell vibranium to help black people all over the world overtake our oppressors. T’Chaka and N’Jobu get into a big fight and then T’Chaka ends up killing N’Jobu while Ulysees Klaue watches. T’Chaka then takes Klaue back to Wakanda to live telling him to never speak of what happened to N’Jobu.

Fast forward to present day Wakanda taking place about a week after the events of Civil War T’Challa is coming home to do the ceremony to become king and the new black panther. He and Okoye, the leader of the Dora Milaje fighting force, extract his ex-lover Nakia from an undercover assignment so she can attend his coronation ceremony, along with his mother Ramonda and younger sister Shuri. At the ceremony, the Jabari Tribe’s leader M’Baku challenges T’Challa for the crown, but T’Challa defeats M’Baku in ritual combat, becoming the new king, and allows M’Baku to live.

When Klaue resurfaces to sell a stolen Wakandan artifact to a buyer in Busan, South Korea, T’Challa’s closest friend W’Kabi—who lost his parents as a result of Klaue’s actions—urges him to bring Klaue to justice. T’Challa, Okoye, and Nakia go to the underground casino where the deal is taking place, to find that the buyer is CIA agent Everett K. Ross, who takes Klaue into custody against T’Challa’s will. Klaue tells Ross that Wakanda’s international image is just a front for a technologically advanced civilization, before being broken out by Erik, now an ex-U.S. black ops soldier who goes by the name “Killmonger”. Ross is seriously injured during the attack, and T’Challa decides to take him to Wakanda where their technology can save him rather than pursue Klaue. Shuri heals Ross with vibranium, while T’Challa confronts Zuri about N’Jobu. Killmonger kills Klaue and takes his body to Wakanda as a token, revealing his identity to the tribal elders and challenging T’Challa for the throne. Killmonger kills Zuri and then, after triumphing in ritual combat, hurls the defeated T’Challa over a waterfall. After ingesting the heart-shaped herb to gain the powers of the Black Panther, Killmonger enacts his father’s plan and prepares shipments of Wakandan weapons to be distributed to operatives around the world, supported by W’Kabi and his tribesmen. Nakia, Shuri, Ramonda, and Ross flee to seek the aid of the Jabari.

At the home of the Jabari Tribe, the group find a comatose T’Challa, rescued by the Jabari in repayment for him sparing M’Baku’s life. Healed by a heart-shaped herb brought by Nakia, T’Challa returns to Wakanda to complete his combat with Killmonger, who is now wearing a Black Panther armor of his own. Shuri and Nakia join the Dora Milaje and Jabari in battling W’Kabi and his army, while Ross pilots a jet to shoot down the planes carrying the weapons before they can leave the country. Within Wakanda’s vibranium mine, T’Challa uses sonic mining technology to disrupt Killmonger’s suit and fatally stab him. Killmonger declines an offer to be healed and imprisoned, choosing instead to die free.

Rejecting Wakanda’s isolationism, T’Challa establishes an outreach center in Oakland to be run by Nakia and Shuri. In a mid-credits scene, T’Challa appears before the United Nations to reveal Wakanda’s true nature to the world. In a post-credits scene, Shuri continues to help Bucky Barnes with his recuperation.

Ok now I’m going to go in-depth about the characters/actors & the deep layers this movie had and the conversations I think we all need to be having right now. 

Actors/Charactors:

Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther:

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“We must find a way to look after each other, as if we were one single tribe”-T’Challa 

We first saw Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/The Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War. From the first time I saw him in that movie I fell in love with both the character & actor. Now seeing him in his own movie I was floored! He was incredible in this film and the way Chadwick embodied Black Panther was amazing. He gave his all in this movie and I am so excited to see him in other movies outside of the superhero world like we saw him in the James Brown movie and 42 about Jackie Robinson. His character T’Challa/The Black Panther might now be one of my favorite superheros next to of course the black Green Lanter. As the leader of the Wakanden people after his father died it gave me some Lion King vibes. What was understandable about him was he was feeling the pressure of being this perfect leader and how he has to live up to that. But once he learns more about Eric Killmonger and how his dad killed his uncle he was pissed with him. Which helped T’Challa to see his father for the flawed person he was and helped to see the error in Wakanda’s ways for keeping all this technology and power away from the diaspora when they know it could help our people. Over all this character was great at being a leader without over powering his all women Dora Milaje, his ex-girlfriend Nakia or his little sister Shuri and working together with their strengths to make Wakanda a better place.

Danai Gurira as Okoye:

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“Wakanda Forever!”- Okoye

THIS WOMEN IS A BOSS!!! As leader of the all female Dora Milaje she kicks ass and brings her fierce warrior self in this movie. She would do anything for Wakanda and her king no matter who they are and I commend her for that. She also knows her way around a sword and like she said “Guns: So primitive.” I also like the way she had a little romance with W’Kabi which was really cute as this movie was full of black love. As far as the actress goes Danai Gurira is just incredible! I don’t watch the Walking Dead but just from this movie I am excited to see more of her fierce acting skills in more movies in bad ass roles. Also we all need a Dora Milaje out here to help us take down this racist, sexist, white suprematist world we sadly live in because they were killin it!!!

Letitia Wright as Shuri:

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“Don’t scare me like that, colonizer!”-Shuri

BAD ASS!!! The women in this movie are just so aww inspiring! Shuri the little sister of T’Challa and the technology goddess of Wakanda. She basically was on her black girl magic for the whole film and was out here making STEM & coding programs poppin out here. (shout out to all the black girl nerds out here) She saved T’Challa so many times in this movie and that was a real testament to the power of black women and how we are always out here protecting and saving our black men and really the world. But the great thing about this film was they didn’t down play her role and made it just as important if not more important to the power of the Black Panther. She was also hilarious with her one liners and the way she would joke with her brother was so great. And the way she took on Killmonger and when she needed a little extra help her brother was right by her side. Shuri & T’Challa are sibling goals! The power of this character also comes from the actress herself Letitia Wright a new comer to the film world. This I hope opens move doors for her in the future and makes her a house hold name.

Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia:

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“If you weren’t so stubborn you would make a great queen.” “I would make a great queen because I’m stubborn– if that’s what I wanted.”- T’Challa & Nakia

Nakia played loved interest to T’Challa and she did well. She was a fully realized character and not just his boo. Without Nakia being the voice of reason the whole movie T’Challa might have stayed dead then where would they be. The way she wanted so bad to bring Wakanda to a more global stage and help our people all over the world was admirable and I feel if they had listened to her ideas they might had been able to work something out with Killmonger. My favorite scene of her was in the beginning when she is helping to save those girls in the back of the truck who were probable being sold into slavery. I was like we need Nakia to go take down boko haram & the slavery going down in Libya. I also loved that she didn’t wanna be just another queen being docile and just listening to the monarchy. She was like I am a warrior and I will go out here and help the people. Lupita Nyong’o of course did her thing. After she won that Oscar for 12 Years A Slave she has just been building up to this moment. From Queen of Katwe to Star Wars to magazine covers she has been doing it for black folks especially dark-skinned folks for a minute. I saw an interview with some folks in Kenya going to see the movie who were dressed in their traditional clothes & they were so excited to see her and have her representing them in this movie. It was amazing & she is amazing!

Michael B. Jordan as N’Jadaka / Erik “Killmonger” Stevens:

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“Nah, just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships. Because they knew death was better than bondage.”- Killmonger

BEST MARVEL VILLAIN EVER!!! So the last 20th Century Fox Marvel comic movie I saw Michael B. Jordan in was the Fantastic Four which I guess makes sence because the first time we say Black Panther was in a Fantasic Four comic. Anyway he did do a good job in that movie but the movie itself was just lack luster & I haven’t seen Fruitfull Station or Creed yet so just going off this movie HE HAS GOT TALENT! He nearly stole the show if not for all the amazing women in the movie. He emboyed Killmonger and brought a very important conversation to the movie I feel wouldn’t have been there if not for this character. Plus the way this movie set up the villain even in the previews for it made it seem like it was going to Klaw as the bad guy so when we learn he was just a pone in an even bigger plot that was cool. At the end of the day I do understand in some ways what Killmonger was mad about and what he wanted to do I just think he went about it the wrong way. Sad he had to die before seeing his dream come to life though but that speech at the end was powerful.

Angela Bassett as Ramonda:

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“Show him who you are.”- Ramonda aka Queen Mother

Angela Bassett is Queen Mother! In the only role fit for Ms. Angela Bassett she was Queen Mother Ramonda. She really played that part so well. Angela Bassett gave a lot of emotion in this movie having to deal with her husband dying and her son was a lot for her character. She also tried to keep order in the kingdom but it was hard at times. To keep her husband’s traditions alive but also support her son through all the hardship he was experiencing all while being graceful and regale was amazing! She looked flawless too and I know every women out there is about to get them a Queen Ramonda hat and be rockin their crowns.

Winston Duke as M’Baku:

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“One more word and I’ll feed you to my children– just kidding we’re vegetarians.”- M’Baku

Fiecreness & Comedy! M’Baku came for T’Challa but lost and then when T’Challa needed him the most he was there for him & Wakanda. Him and the Jabari Tribe were so dope. The way they didn’t find the way the vibranium was being handled made them go off into the mountains to live a more traditional lifestyle where they worship the gorilla god Hanuman was telling and it will be interesting to see what they think of the new globalization of the Wakanda and the vibranium. Anyway M’Baku was also hilarious. The way he barked at Ross when he tried to talk and then tried to scare him by tell him he’d eat him was so funny. Winston Duke was incredible in his role and I look forward to seeing him in more films.

Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi:

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He went from the sunken place to Wakanda. I loved him in Get Out and I wasn’t sure what role his character would play in this movie but once I found out I was wasn’t sure if I liked him or not. He was pretty much a sell out but also he like Nakia had his reasons and was pretty fed up with the way the kingdom was being led. So on the one had I do understand it but also I think the way he went about it was wrong. It was cool though to see him and Okoye’s love for each other so much so that she helped to stop him from distroying his own people.

Forest Whitaker as Zuri:

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Zuri was sadly put between a rock and a hard place. He was young when everything happened between the king and his brother that he didn’t really know what to do so he helped him keep it a secret. As we saw though all secrets end up coming out eventually. So when it came time for the truth to come out it made a tailspin of things happen that unfortunately caused his death. I personally felt that was not fair to him only because he didn’t do anything wrong he was just following orders. Anyway as a character he was the spiritual leader of Wakanda and helped to pass the powers down to each new king. Forest Whitaker of course played his role really well and was an inspiration.

Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross & Andy Serkis as Klaw:

From Middle Earth to Wakanda. These two were the only white folks in this movie (except the mesume worker) and they played their parts well. Starting with Klaw like I said he was just a pone in a bigger plot yet he did have his own war to wage with Black Panther from way back when he went to Wakanda. He was funny at times too but was also kind of throw away character so when he died it was no big. Then you had Everett K. Ross and he I feel like was there to have a white person in the movie honestly. But I also feel he played and showed an important role I think all white folks who wanna help out with Black/POC and Indigenous causes can do. He was there without taking up space. He helped in the way he knew how but without taking over the fight. That was all white allies need to do is just be in the space help in ways you know how but don’t take up space or try to take over. And if you know me at all you know I love Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit world so I already liked these guys a lot.

  Costumes, Hairdresser & Cinematography:

So of course the costumes of this movie were everything! Ruth E. Carter did her thing. The way the Dora Milaje were dressed in red with gold accents and the rings around their necks which was a node to the Kayan women. Then you had all the traditional garb that they wore during the ceremony scenes was so beautiful especially when surrounded by the water falls. Then you had the way the royals dressed and the head-dress crown Queen Mother wore and the lip plates they wore like many tribes in Africa. Also the way natural hair was in full glory in this movie I was here for it. You had braids, locks, balds, fros and everything in between. It was glory! Oh and can we talk about the men in this movie? From Black Panther to Killmonger to M’Baku and W’Kabi they were amazing and very hansom. Then you had the biggest highlight of this movie Wakanda its self. AWW-INSPIRING!!! The technology of the city and the way they had their underground rail ways run by vibranium and just the way it made it look like a real African country just with higher technology. When they were in the market place and everyone was wearing their traditional clothes with their hologram beads in their hands. And I know everyone wants one of those vibranium bracelets so they can heal themselves and have all that technology on their arm. Also that waterfall was all that! Man that was a view! I’m already afraid of heights so when they paned down at times it was a little much but just so beautiful. The mountains were beautiful, the fields were amazing. I just love it! It made me wanna go to Wakanda. Just the beauty of this movie on all levels in so revating!

The Meaning Behind the Movie:

So this movie was deep but not that deep. Yes there is a deep message in the movie about the diaspora and the way we treat each other from different parts of the world. It also had a lot to do with how Blacks in America and Africans on the continent view each other. Wakanda was a country on the continent that wanted to keep all that knowledge, technology and power to their selves but when Killmonger came he stirs up a conversation that was very much-needed. It posed the question that what if there was an African country that was never colonized with this amount of resources and technology to be able to help the world what would we do with it? Keep it to ourselves or use it to help our brothers & sisters all over the world? For me personally just going by history and what we’ve seen with countries with these incredible empires and all this history, technology and resources like Ancient Kemet, Nubia, Maya, Aztec, even places in India, Asia where stolen from. That’s why when Killmonger went to the museum to steal the dagger he was schoolin that British women on how her people and Americans went over to Africa and stole our important and ceremonial artifacts to have up in their museums. They did that to indigenous Native American tribes as well. Due to knowing that those in power so easily steel our culture right from under us would it be a good idea to share our power and knowledge with them like our ancestors did? I don’t think so. On the other hand though I did like that they decided to help the inner-city youth because unfortunately these kids were just born into this system they didn’t create it and I think it was pretty selfish of Wakanda to keep all those resources and knowledge from the next generation. Now personally I think they should have done this stuff on the DL and not broadcast it to the rest of the world. I’m very much a globalist but also a separatist and it can be hard to decided at times which one I wanna go with because on the one hand I want the world to work together and be allies of each other but on the other hand history has proven that certain places just don’t know how to do that and get along with out exploiting someone. But then that’s just human nature unfortunately because we as humans have been exploiting each other since day one.

This movie also asked the question of wether African Americans feel any connection with the continent anymore & wether Africans really want us there. Having a father who studied Anicent Kemet when I was growing up and has visited the continent three times and is very fond of the place you’d think I’d wanna go over there. I’m not saying I don’t but I’m not sure I have a big connection to Africa. I appreciate African people and their culture but I don’t really feel a full on connection to that place. Yes I know my ancestors came from there but I also am more connected to the ancestors who made it over here and connected with the Native American and built this land to what it is today. People from other countries say Black Americans don’t have any culture or history and we do. Our culture influences the whole world and our history is why so many different groups of people come to America to this day. So to me I’m not all that interested in the whole “back to Africa” thing lots of Blacks are doing right now but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to at least visit there one day I just don’t need it to validate myself and my culture.

Anyway since this movie has come out I seen some videos of people taking this movie way to seriously and kind of messing up the moment we are having as Black people all over the world. They go on about the deep messages in this movie and the way it basically a capitalistic movie with the white CIA agent in it and why are we so into this movie that’s doing nothing for the Black community. They are looking past the representation that this movie brings for black people, black women, dark skinned black people and an uplifting message. But no if your not unhappy as a black person then your not “woke” and are just a pone of white supremacy. Lame! Stop it it is still a superhero movie. What did you really expect?

What This Meant to Black People & The Global Community:

This is Marvel’s 19th film and they have been cranking them out one almost every year. There all good, funny, superhero movies but this one was different. All the other Marvel films that have been made up to this point with that one token black character which is the sidekick of the main superhero. Then the main Avengers are all white put at least there is a women in the likes of Black Widow and most recently Wanda Maximoff. Now sadly Marvel up to this point didn’t have the rights to the X-Men world and even in that world Storm wasn’t seen as that big a character in the movies as Wolverine, Professor X and Magnito basically took over. They had even said they were going to make a Storm origin movie but sadly got too busy with Wolverine and didn’t get the chance. And even in superhero movies & comics in general there has been a lack of diversity with maybe the one black charactar.

Now a lot of people are saying this is the first black superhero which is not excatly true. You have of course Storm, Blade, Luke Cage, Sam Wilson, Nick Fury, Black Lightning, Amanda Waller, John Stewart, War Machine, Miles Morales, Blank Man, and so many others. And thanks to platforms like the CW, Netflix and Disney XD heros like Black Lightining, Luke Cage and Miles Morales are getting their own shows & cartoons which is awesome. Oh and even though not an actual DC or Marvel superhero we still got to give props to Zack Taylor the first black teenage superhero in the TV show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

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I think what was different for this black superhero is just the way they went about putting this one out. They put it under the Marvel banner and it drew crowds of all ages, races and cultures and the hero just happened to be black from a fictional African country that was never colonized. They put their money where their mouth is and really came through for a lot fans who have been waiting for this moment.

But at the end of the day even though this is a movie for all people and it’s amazing to see so many different people happy about a black person real or fake, and we know this movie was a big step for black people, black women and POCs all over the world. To see all the little kids dressing up as Black Panther or the Dora Milaje is just so inspiring. In todays world we live in and especially under our current admin it is so hard to find good representation of black people in movies, music or TV. Being a kid of the ’90s and just growing up in the household I did I was very fortune to see postivie images of myself all the time in the dolls I played with, to the TV shows I watched to the music I listened to. Sadly today kids don’t have that as much and so it’s just beautiful to see that the next generation is able to see themselves as amazing, aww inspiring, fierce black people.

I saw a interview with Chadwick that when he was in Korea he was greeted by the press there all dressed in their traditional dress. This is really a movie for all people of color who ever felt displayed thanks to colonialism to feel proud of their culture the way we get to. And honestly I hope this makes a chain reaction happen where other superheros of color get to be displayed on the big screen for all people to see.

The Music:

From the trailers to the movie it had some great music. The way they put Gil Scott Heron in the first trailer was so dramatic and powerful. Top Dawg Entertainment did the soundtrack for this movie. It was done by Kendrick Lamar and featured other rappers & R&B artist mostly doing trap music. It did have some African sounds sprinkled through out a lot of the songs and music videos like the SZA ft. Kendrick Lamar song All of the Stars. Another stand out song for me was Pray for Me by the Weeknd ft. Kendrick Lamar and other solo Kendrick Lamar songs. I also loved the score for the movie was amazing! I love all the African sounds, drums, and singing mixed with some more superhero sounding sounds. One sound is the singing during the ceremony when T’Challa becomes king also the African man singing at different parts of the movie.

 

 

Well that is my review of Black Panther. I will definitely be purchasing this movie when it comes out and I am already ready for this movie to win all the awards next year!

https://www.npr.org/2018/02/16/586513016/black-panther-costume-designer-draws-on-the-sacred-geometry-of-africa

“More connects us than separates us — but in times of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one tribe.”- Black Panther

Till Next Time…WAKANDA FOREVER!!!

 

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