Starring Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther hit theaters last night. Following the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016), T’Challa returns home to the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as his country’s new King. However, T’Challa is soon challenged for the throne by a tribe within his own country. When two outside foes join forces to destroy Wakanda, T’Challa’s alter ego, Black Panther must team up with the C.I.A. and members of the Dora Milaje, Wakandan special forces, to prevent Wakanda from being responsible for a world war.
When I was about 13 or so, I went to a friend’s house and we had a conversation with her mother. During the course of this conversation, somewhere out of the blue, her mother asked us two young black girls, “If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you want to go?” So, I thought about it and I was like, Greece and she maybe responded, Europe, or something like that. Her mother then asked my friend and I, “What about Africa? Don’t you want to go see Africa?” The crux of our response was, “Africa???!!! Why would we want to go to Africa? They’re all hungry with flies all over them and their stomachs sticking out? Nobody wants to go there?!” She then proceeded to educate us about how beautiful Africa was and how the media had manipulated us to think that these images were all there were to Africa. And up until that point, because I didn’t seek out any other images, and had given it no thought and simply accepted what I saw to be the truth, honestly, those were literally the only images I had ever seen related to Africa up until that point in my life. She asked why we thought Irish people want to see Ireland, German Americans wish to see Germany, Italian Americans wish to visit Italy, Jewish people want to see Jerusalem, etc., etc., and black people don’t have a desire to go to see Africa? She explained the legacy of slavery and the disconnection from one’s origins, etc., etc., etc. She was the first “woke” woman I ever met, and I’ve been woke ever since, God rest her beautiful, woke soul. Ever since that day, I have wanted to visit the Mother Land. Haven’t been yet, but Africa soon come! So to say I have a soft spot for all things African and African-related, would be an understatement.
I ducked and dodged every trailer, every interview, and every reference to Black Panther, as was humanly possible. I hadn’t seen one clip of it beforehand. I’ve read about the oh so sad white hate group(s) setting out to sabotage the Rotten Tomatoes ratings, I’ve heard a bit about the great pre-sale ticket numbers, I’ve heard about the groups raising money for black children to see a black superhero on film, etc., etc., etc. There’s been so much hype, there’s no way I can come here and tell you that I was not excited af about this movie and all the hype leading up to it. And if I had to come here and tell you how disappointed I was after seeing this movie, I would have remained forever ticked off until the end of time because of it, just so you all know.
Thank the Good Lord, Black Panther delivers all it promised and more! I loved it, and I’m not just saying that because I’m black. This movie is worthy of every friggin’ bloop it earned in production, in action, in acting, in costumes, in effects, in hair and makeup, in set design, in props, in score (loved the score!), in direction, in choreography, and in storytelling. If you go to IMDB and look at the many, many technical jobs this movie created, it is amazing. This thing we have right here… is something special.
Black Panther is a beautiful film, but it isn’t flawless. Now if you follow me at all, you know that I just started watching these superhero movies since I started this blog in April 2016. These movies are popular and if you want people to read your blog and not just to be writing for your own entertainment, you write about the things the masses are interested in. I’ve seen so many movies I would have never otherwise seen on my own in the name of this blog. This exposure has greatly changed my perspective on the Marvel/DC Universes of movies. I have gained a whole new understanding of superheroes and their place in the world and their place in the fantasy lives of the people who love these films and grew up with and love these characters. Like, I get it. Logan was the movie that won me over, and the same elements that drew me to Logan draw me in to Black Panther – a fantasy, action, superhero movie that intersects with reality. For myself personally, I enjoy movies that somehow connect to modern day social issues a bit more than the old, “We have to save the world!” storyline. And similarly to Logan, the release date comes so close after awards season closes – so hopefully, like Logan, Black Panther will stay in the minds of the Powers that Be when award season comes back around again. (We’ll see how that works out. There are a lot of movies to go through. Even without awards, nothing can take away the things that are great about any movie. What do they know anyway?)
I love that that the majority of the action in Black Panther takes place in Africa, giving the story line this grounded, “reality-based” foundation that makes it feel more credible than if the action took place on some other plane or dimension of existence or on another planet or in space. It becomes believable, as the thoughtful writing of Joe Robert Cole considers the historical pillaging of the African people, land, resources and culture. It also contains themes and messages for the modern black community, America and mankind as a whole, if one pays attention. It feels modern, futuristic and historical all at the same time. This is the true beauty of this movie.
If you’ve read my review of Marshall, I have already made my position on Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa/Black Panther) and his skills clear. The man is talented and his performance was solid. I believe his character could have benefited from a bit more humor. Just a bit. I understand T’Challa carried the weight of his people on his shoulders and there are a lot of characters in this movie that are focused upon, but this character needed more dimension. The role of Erik Killmonger is the perfect vehicle for Michael B. Jordan. Killmonger, in comparison to T’Challa, expresses a range of emotions and is much more fleshed out. The bald ladies (Ayo and Okoye) were terrific (I believe their real names are Florence Kasumba and Danai Gurira), along with the battle skills and feminine battle cries of all the female warriors. Winston Duke nails providing suspense, drama and comic relief. Upcomer, Letitia Right as T’Challa’s sister Shuri, gets an honorable mention as the STEM girl! More of the beauty of this movie is that we get to see black actors stretch themselves performing in roles outside of another friggin’ biopic (not that I don’t love them, but come on already…) or drama featuring a few black people. Black Panther is a whole different animal; pun intended. It’s an opportunity for these artists to show a different side of their chops, and they pulled it off well.
Black Panther earned 8.5 out of 10 bloops. And it’s not just about it being a movie with a whole lot of black people involved, and me being black myself. It is about being a lover of cinema. Regardless of whether you’re a Marvel fan or if you’re black or whatever you are or identify as – if you are a fan of film, Black Panther is a historical feat of diversity and blackness in cinema, in front of and behind the camera; the likes of which has never been witnessed before. As is the case with any film, all types of variables may cause one person to like it more or less than I did; life experiences, perspective, personal taste, and preferences, etc. But I gotta tell ya, it is because I’m black that I got just a wee bit choked up during Black Panther because I was so very proud to see African people positively and powerfully represented in mainstream film, finally. Even in the fantasy realm, I’ll take it.
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1 = worst ever, avoid at all cost
2 = very bad, forget about it!
3 = poor movie, not recommended
4 = not good, even for free – NO!
5 = so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6 = not bad, could have been better
7 = good movie, worth seeing
8 = great movie, don’t miss it!
9 = excellent movie, a must see!
10 = a masterpiece, go see it now!
What I’m seeing/reviewing next…
As soon as I know, you will know.
Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time
The Florida Project
Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World
The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist
Call Me By Your Name
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
The Big Sick
All Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Kong: Skull Island
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
I Am Not Your Negro